By Tamara Lush
TAMPA, Florida — A decorated Florida police officer who killed nine people during a crime spree after he was fired for lying is scheduled to be executed Tuesday night.
Manuel Pardo's attorneys are trying to block his execution, arguing in federal appeals that he is mentally ill, something his trial attorney believed more than two decades ago.
"I think that anyone who would get up and ask a jury sentence him to death is insane," lawyer Ronald Gurlanick has said.
Over three months in early 1986, Pardo committed a series of robberies, killing six men and three women. Most of his victims were involved with drugs, officials said, and Pardo contended that he was doing the world a favor by killing them.
Gurlanick thought Pardo was insane and tried to use that as a defense, arguing he couldn't tell right from wrong.
Over Gurlanick's objections, Pardo insisted on testifying, telling jurors that he enjoyed killing people and wished he could have murdered more.
"They're parasites and they're leeches, and they have no right to be alive," he said in court. "Somebody had to kill these people."
In a news conference following his conviction, Pardo said that instead of choosing to model himself after Hitler, he could have idolized Martin Luther King Jr. or John F. Kennedy.
"But they were pacifists," he said. "I'm an activist."
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Copyright 2012 Associated Press