John Michael Buzia—white, age 39

Sentenced to death in Seminole County, Florida
By: A judge, after an 8-4 jury recommendation of a death sentence.
Date of crime: 3/14/00
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Buzia attacked 71-year-old Thea Kersch with an ax and left her for dead at her home, where he had sometimes worked as a handyman. When her husband, 71-year-old Charles Kersch, arrived home, Buzia attacked him with the ax in the garage and killed him. He stole their car, cash, and some blank checks. He was arrested shortly thereafter trying to cash one of the checks. Thea Kersch identified Buzia at trial. Buzia admitted the attacks during the trial. His mitigation was that he was on a crack cocaine binge at the time and that he had performed good deeds while in prison.
Prosecutor(s): No information found
Defense lawyer(s): No information found
Sources: Orlando Sentinel 3/26/03, 4/4/03, 8/19/03

Richard England – Latino, age 29

Sentenced to death in Volusia County, Florida
By: A judge after an 8-4 jury recommendation of death
Date of crime: 6/26/2001
Prosecution’s case/defense response: England and Michael Douglas Jackson robbed and beat 71-year-old Howard Wetherell to death with a fire poker. After the murder, England took a shower with Wetherell’s body and defaced a painting with the word “pervert…” The prosecution argued England killed Wetherell because of his hatred towards homosexuals. England continuously claimed his innocence, and at one point the judge had to duct tape his mouth shut for his outbursts. In mitigation, England’s sister testified Richard was severely beaten as a child. England was first imprisoned at age 16 for killing another homosexual man and was on probation when Wetherell’s murder occurred.
Prosecutor(s): Ed Davis
Defense lawyer(s): Rob Sanders, Gerald Keating
Sources: Daytona Beach News Journal 7/10/04, 7/17/04, 7/24/04; The Miami Herald 5/29/04; Florida Department of Corrections:

Quawn Franklin – black, age 24

Sentenced to death in Lake County Florida
By: A judge, after an unanimous jury recommendation of a death sentence
Date of crime: 12/29/2001
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Franklin shot night watchman, Jerry Lawley, in the back as Lawley pled for his life during a robbery. Franklin was on a conditional release from prison for robbery. This murder was the last event in a 10-day crime spree by Franklin that included robbing, kidnapping, and killing a pizza deliveryman and for robbing and almost beating an elderly woman to death. (Franklin was convicted in an earlier trial for these crimes and sentenced to six life sentences.) The defense did not contest Franklin’s responsibility for the murder, but argued he should receive the same sentence his co-defendant (who was a 13-year-old girl), 35 years in prison. In mitigation, the defense presented that Franklin had a troubled childhood, when he was removed from his home and sexually abused at a juvenile home.
Prosecutor(s): Bill Gross
Defense lawyer(s): Mark Nacke, William Grossenbacher
Sources: Orlando Sentinel 4/23/04, 4/27/04, 6/4/04

Johnny Hoskins—black, age 28 (re-sentence after appellate reversal)

Sentenced to death in Brevard County, Florida
By: A judge after an 11-1 jury recommendation of death
Date of crime: 10/92
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Hoskins raped and strangled his 80-year-old neighbor Dorothy Berger, then transported her body to Georgia and buried it in a shallow grave.  Hoskins’s death sentence was twice reversed by the Florida Supreme Court because the jury was not provided with pertinent evidence about his mental condition.  This death sentence was his third, and the first time even one juror voted to recommend a life sentence.
Sources: Hoskins v. State, 702 So.2d 202 (Fla. 1997); Florida Today 7/29/04 (2004 WL 60375238).

Richard Johnson – white, age 23

Sentenced to death in St. Lucie County, Florida
By: A judge after an 11-1 jury recommendation of death
Date of crime: 2/14/2001
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Johnson raped, strangled and killed 35-year-old Tammy Hagin after he met her at a night club. John Vitale, Johnson’s roommate, testified he helped Johnson get rid of the body after the killing. Johnson and Vitale bought a cooler, chains and cinder blocks to attach to the body so it would sink to the bottom at Savannas State Park. After Johnson was arrested, Vitale wrote letters to Johnson’s friends, family and prosecutors confessing he committed the crime. Vitale testified he wrote the letters because he loved Johnson even though he did not murder Hagin. The defense argued in mitigation that Johnson was physically and sexually abused.
Prosecutor(s): Lynn Park, Rick Seymour
Defense lawyer(s): Robert Stone Sources:
South Florida Sun-Sentinel 6/12/046/22/04; Florida Department of Corrections:

Christopher Dale Jones—black, age 22

Sentenced to death in Okeechobee County, Florida
By: A judge after a 7-5 jury recommendation of death
Date of crime: 7/17/01
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Jones and three cohorts burglarized Hilario Dominguez’s home to rob him. Jones beat the victim severely with a pistol, and then shot him in the heart as be begged for his life. Jones’ apparent motivation for the murder was to eliminate the victim as a witness. Jones had two prior grand theft convictions. Jones declined a life sentence plea bargain. The defense attempted to shift the primary blame to the other cohorts. In mitigation, the defense offered primarily Jones’s grandfather. At the penalty phase Jones told the jury he didn’t care whether he lived or died.
Prosecutor(s): Bernard Romero, Ashley Albright
Defense lawyer(s): Sherwood Bauer, James Harpring
Sources: ; Miami Herald 7/22/01; Tampa Tribune 7/23/03; telephone calls with prosecutors Romero and Albright 1/14/05

Troy Merck Jr. – white, age 19  (re-sentence after an appellate reversal of the death sentence)

Sentenced to death in Pinellas County, Florida
By: A judge after a 9-3 jury recommendation of death
Date of crime: 10/11/91
Prosecution’s case/defense response: James Newton went to a night club to celebrate his birthday, and when he left the party he found Merck leaning on his car and requested he move. Merck proceeded to pick a fight with Newton and started attacking him with a hunting knife. Merck stabbed Newton 13 times while he yelled “Happy birthday.” The victim could have lived up to five minutes before he bled to death. Merck was on probation at the time of the killing and has been convicted of five robberies. Merck has also been violent in prison and threatened to escape. Merck has been convicted twice before of this crime but his sentences were overturned on appeal. During previous sentencing, Merck gave the thumbs-up sign and broke into song. In mitigation, the defense argued Merck is an alcoholic and had a rough childhood.
Prosecutor(s): Richard Ripplinger, Brian Daniels
Defense lawyer(s): Michael Schwartzberg
Sources: St. Petersburg Times 3/20/04, 8/7/04; Tampa Tribune 8/7/04; Florida Department of Corrections:

Theodore Rodgers, Jr. – black, age 61

Sentenced to death in Seminole County, Florida
By: A judge, after a jury recommendation of 8-4 for the death penalty
Date of crime: 2/14/2001
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Rodgers shot and killed his wife, Florence Henderson, at a daycare center where she worked. Rodgers killed her because he thought she was having an affair with her ex-husband. Children who were present at the daycare center testified Rodgers came to the center with a gun and shot Henderson as she attempted to run for the front door. Rodgers claimed they were struggling for the gun and did not mean to shoot her. Prosecutors argued Rodgers’ had a violent history with a previous robbery and manslaughter conviction. During sentencing, the defense argued Rodger should not receive the death penalty because he had a poor background and mild retardation.
Prosecutor(s): Linda Drane Burdick
Defense lawyer(s): Rowana Williams
Sources: Orlando Sentinel 10/23/03, 6/17/04; The Tallahassee Democrat 6/18/04; Florida Department of Corrections:

William Kenneth Taylor – white, age 42

Sentenced to death in Hillsborough County, Florida
By: A jury unanimously recommended a death sentence
Date of crime: 5/2001
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Taylor shot Sandra Kushmer and almost beat her brother, Billy Maddox, to death. Taylor took Kushmer and Maddox to their mother’s home after meeting them at a bar. After the attack, Taylor stole Maddox’s credit cards, checks, and assumed the brother’s stockbroker identity. The prosecution argued Taylor should receive the death penalty because he murdered for money and had a violent history, spending 23 of the past 26 years in prison. At the time of the murder Taylor was on federal probation. During the punishment phase, the defense argued Taylor should not receive the death penalty because he suffered from mental disorders and had a rough childhood.
Prosecutor(s): Scott Harmon
Defense lawyer(s): Deborah Goins
Sources: Tampa Tribune 6/15/04, 9/30/04

John Troy—white, age 31

Sentenced to death in Sarasota Co., Florida
By: A judge, after an 11-1 jury recommendation of a death sentence.
Date of crime: 9/11/01
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Troy went to the apartment of a neighbor, 20-year-old Bonnie Carroll, raped her, bound her, and stabbed her to death with 44 knife wounds. Then he went to the home of an acquaintance, Tracie Burchette, and beat her badly with a two-by-four and stole her car—she recovered and identified him at trial. Troy had prior convictions for three armed robberies and an aggravated assault. He was on parole at the time was these crimes. Troy did not contest guilt. His mitigation evidence was that he had a terrible childhood, had spent most of his adult life in prison, and was high on cocaine and angry with his girlfriend at the time of these crimes.
Prosecutor(s): Debra Johnes Riva
Defense lawyer(s): Adam Tebrugge
Sources: Sarasota Herald-Tribune 8/19/03, 8/21/03, 8/26/03, 8/27/03, 1/24/04

Robert Walker—white, age 31

Sentenced to death in Brevard County, Florida
By: A judge after a jury recommendation of death
Date of crime 1/27/03
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Walker kidnapped, beat, bound, stripped, and shot David Hamman in a drug dispute, and then dumped his body. No information is available concerning the defense approach to the case.
Prosecutor(s): Jim Earp, Glenn Craig
Defense lawyer(s): Kenneth Studstill
Sources: Florida Today (Brevard County) 2/24/03 (2003 WL 7157577), 3/6/03 (2003 WL 7142104), 6/10/03 (2003 WL 7146185), 8/5/04 (2004 WL 60375998), 12/16/04 (2004 WL 60382037)

Ronnie K. Williams—black, age 30 (re-sentence after an appellate reversal)

Sentenced to death in Broward County, Florida
By: A judge after a 10-2 recommendation of a death sentence by a jury
Date of crime: 1/26/93
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Williams raped, bit, and repeatedly stabbed 8-months’ pregnant 18-year-old Lisa Dyke. Dykes died 19 days later. (Her baby was born prematurely and with grave and lifelong physical disabilities as a result of the attack, a fact the jurors were not permitted to learn; nor were they permitted to know that Williams had been out of prison only seven months for a prior conviction for stabbing another woman to death.) Williams testified that he was so high on drugs and alcohol that he did not remember the killing of Dyke. The defense offered evidence of Williams’s horrible childhood.
Prosecutor(s): Deborah Zimet
Defense lawyer(s): Evan Baron, Hale Schantz
Sources: Miami Herald 11/4/03, 3/2/04, South Florida Sun-Sentinel 2/4/04, 2/11/04, 2/13/04, 3/2/04, 4/17/04