STARKE — “Lord, hear our prayer,” sang a group of activists as they stood before the Florida State Prison on Tuesday evening. Rain clouds loomed over the prison as more than 40 people gathered to protest the lethal injection of death-row inmate William Happ.

Happ has been on death row for 24 years for the abduction, rape and murder of 21-year-old Angie Crowley in 1986.

The execution was the first to use midazolam hydrochloride, usually a sedation drug, Reuters reported.

When the clock struck 6 p.m., the scheduled time of Happ’s execution, protesters took turns ringing a bell while chanting phrases like “Stop killing people — kill violence.”

“We are here to stop the death penalty, and that is exactly what we will do,” said 27-year-old Kurt Wadsworth Jr., a former University of West Florida student who spent the last four months protesting capital punishment.

Wadsworth puts the situation into perspective by thinking of his brother, whom he visits in prison.

“I would never want my brother to die, regardless of what he’s done,” he said.

George Diller, a 73-year-old UF French prose professor, also protested.

“I just started thinking about what a barbaric act this is,” he said. “In my opinion, life without parole is a perfectly adequate punishment.”

A version of this story ran on page 1 on 10/16/2013 under the headline "Protesters argue execution in Starke"

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A short precision:

George T. Diller is a Professor of Medieval French Literature, currently teaching a course on the 13th-Century French prose Lancelot cycle.

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