BUCKINGHAM, Fla. -- With less than one year in office under his belt, Governor Rick Scott signed his first death warrant. Manuel Valle murdered a Coral Gables police officer more than 30 years ago and now he's scheduled to be executed August 2. His family in Buckingham said they're finding closure with the news.
"When its your family, its eye for an eye. That's the way I feel about it and I'm waiting. August 2nd," said Inez Afanadora, Officer Louis Pena's ex-wife.
Afanadora and her daughter Jeneane Skeen say they've been waiting 33 years for justice to be served.
"Did you ever think you would see this day?" said Genevieve Judge, WINK News reporter. "I did actually. I probably have the most faith out of anyone in my family," said Skeen.
The family of Officer Pena said their late husband, and father, was taken by someone who was no stranger to the criminal system.
"This was no saint. Manuel Valle was a bad guy to begin with and didn't want to go back to jail. Thats the only reason he did what he did," said Skeen.
April 2, 1978, Officer Pena was killed after he stopped a stolen car that ran a red light in Coral Gables. Valle shot and killed Pena during that stop. He was sentenced to the death penalty but never faced execution because of case delays and appeals.
"He appealed everything and anything he could. Theres a roach on the floor, lets appeal," said Afanadora.
"We have never had a governor sign the death warrant. Governor Scott is the first one to do it so thank you very much," said Skeen.
Thursday Governor Scott signed the first death warrant since taking office, setting the stage for Valle to be executed in August.
"Valle took him. He murdered him. He pre-mediated murdered him and for that I don't like him," said Afanadora.
Pena was an officer for 12 years and is survived by Afanadora, Skeen, two other daughters and a son. All of them live in southwest Florida. They said this let's them begin to move forward.
"I think it brings a chapter of closure for the whole family. Friends and family have been waiting and waiting to see how its going to end," said Skeen.
His partner, former Coral Gables Officer Gary Spell, was with Pena when he was killed. He said he's concerned August 2 will come and go with no justice.
"I know that death warrants have been signed before and there have been other stays and delays so I understand the process," said Spell.
Since 1976, 69 people have been executed in the state of Florida. Valle is scheduled to die by lethal injection August 2, nearly 20 years to the day, he was sentenced for ending a life too soon.
"I thank God as I'm saying my prayers. I say thank you lord Jesus its finally over," said Afanadora.
If Valle's execution is carried out as scheduled, he'll be the first person executed in Florida since February 2010. Officer Pena's family plans to attend the execution at the Florida State Prison in Starke.