Joshua Lee Altersberger – Black, age 19

Sentenced in Polk County, Florida
By: a judge upon jury recommendation (9-3)
Date of crime: January 12, 2007
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Altersberger shot Florida Highway Patrolman Sgt. Nicholas Sottile (age ) during a traffic stop. The prosecution discussed the aggravating circumstances of killing an on-duty police officer and that the murder was “cold, calculated, and premeditated.” The defense argued that Altersberger was young and could not appreciate the criminality of his conduct.
Sources: Highlands Today (FL) 03/26/09 (2009 WLNR 5654464), 03/31/09 (2009 WLNR 6009434), 05/07/09 (2009 WLNR 8664328), 05/09/09 (2009 WLNR 8870067), 06/15/09 (2009 WLNR 11487753)

Cornelius Baker – Black, age 20

Sentenced in Flagler County, Florida
By: a judge upon jury recommendation (9-3)
Date of crime: January 7, 2007
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Baker and Patricia Rosa (age 19) kidnapped and fatally shot Elizabeth Uptagrafft (age 55). Baker and Rosa entered the home, severely beat three of the occupants, and then kidnapped Elizabeth Uptagrafft. Uptagrafft’s body was found on a dirt road with a bullet wound in the forehead. Defense spoke of Baker’s childhood as mitigating factors. Baker had been raised in a home with two parents that abused alcohol and drugs. Defense also brought up issues of a low IQ and fetal alcohol exposure.
Sources: Daytona News-Journal (FL) 08/21/08 (2008 WLNR 15871405), 08/28/08 (2008 WLNR 16331224), 09/15/08 (2008 WLNR 17567511), 03/05/09 (2009 WLNR 4323194), 06/27/09 (2009 WLNR 12450861)

Raymond Curtis Bright — Black, age 54

Sentenced in Duval County, Florida
By: A judge after an 8-4 jury recommendation of death
Date of crime: 2/08
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Bright bludgeoned two victims to death with a hammer in his home—Randall Brown (age 16) and Derrick King III (age 20). The prosecution contended that the victims were beaten to death as they were sleeping after having done drugs with Bright. The defense contended that the victims had awoken Bright waving a gun, and he had responded in self-defense based on his training as a Marine (he had served 10 years and was honorably discharged).
Sources: Florida Times Union (Jacksonville) 8/26/09 (2009 WLNR 16648374), 9/2/09 (2009 WLNR 17195037), 11/19/09 (2009 WLNR 23392337).

Matthew Caylor – White, age 33

Sentenced in Bay County, Florida
By: a judge upon jury recommendation (8-4)
Date of crime: July 8, 2008
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Caylor raped and strangled Melinda Hinson (age 13). Her body was found under a Caylor’s bed at the hotel where he was staying. Caylor admitted to strangling Hinson with his hands and a phone cord. The state put forth three aggravators to ensure the possibility of the death penalty: Caylor was a convicted felon at the time of the killing; the killing occurred while committing the offense of aggravated child abuse; and the killing was especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel.
Sources: The News Herald (Panama City, FL) 7/31/08 (2008 WLNR 14259968), 12/11/09 (2009 WLNR 25085636), 10/17/09 (2009 WLNR 20560487).

Frederick Cummings-El – Black, age 33 (re-sentence after appellate review)

Sentenced in Gadsden County, Florida
By: a judge upon jury recommendation (8-4)
Date of crime: September 16, 1991
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Cummings-El stalked and stabbed to death his ex-girlfriend, Kathy Good. Good had taken out a restraining order against Cummings-El after numerous threats of violence and an assault at a neighbor’s house. Good’s eight-year-old son witnessed the murder and believed he saw Cummings-El punching his mother. Good’s nephew, from another room, ran up in time to see Cummings-El escaping. Good was conscious for a while after the stabbing, but drown as her lungs filled with blood. Cummings-El was given a new sentencing hearing following a successful claim of ineffective assistance of counsel.
Sources: Commision on Capital Cases (; Cummings-El v. State 863 So. 2d 246 (Fla., 2003).

Andrew Gosciminski – White, age 49 (re-sentence after appellate review)

Sentenced in St. Lucie County, Florida
By: a judge upon jury recommendation (9-3)
Date of crime: September 24, 2002
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Gosciminski beat and stabbed to death Joan Loughman (age 55). Gosciminski met Loughman at the assisted-living home where he worked and Loughman’s father lived. Gosciminski murdered her in order to steal her jewelry. At his first trial evidence was admitted that should have been excluded. Gosciminski maintains his innocence.
Sources: Vero Beach Press Journal (FL) 10/10/09 (2009 WLNR 20216731); St. Lucie News Tribune (Fort Pierce, FL) 11/7/09 (2009 WLNR 22454154).Palm Beach Post (FL) 11/7/09 (2009 WLNR 22480679).

Donte Hall – Black, age 21

Sentenced in Lake County, Florida
By: a judge upon jury recommendation (8-4)
Date of crime: September 9, 2006
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Donte Hall, along with his identical twin brother Dante Hall, robbed and shot to death Anthony Bernard Blunt (age 35) and Kison Evans (age 32). The Hall brothers broke into a house party with Blunt and Evans in attendance. The brothers shot out the lights and then shot four people in the house, killing two.
Sources: Orlando Sentinel (FL) 04/23/09 (2009 WLNR 7607257), 12/11/09 (2009 WLNR 25073980), 03/27/10 (2010 WLNR 6469173).

Justin Heyne – White, age 25

Sentenced in Brevard County, Florida
By: a judge upon jury recommendation (8-4 Sarah Buckoski; 10-2 Ivory)
Date of crime: March 30, 2006
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Heyne shot to death Sarah Buckoski (age 24), her boyfriend Benjamin Hamilton (age 26), and Sarah’s daughter Ivory (age 5). Prosecutors argued that Heyne murdered the three over a $300 debt.
Sources: Florida Today (Melbourne, FL) 12/18/09 (2009 WLNR 25490555), 05/13/10 (2010 WLNR 10017077); Orlando Sentinel 386 12/18/09 (2009 WLNR 25496306).

Willie James Hodges – Black, age 40

Sentenced in Escambia County, Florida
By: a judge upon jury recommendation (10-2)
Date of crime: December 19, 2001
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Hodges broke into the home of Patricia Belanger (age 58). Hodges beat her over the head with a hammer, stabbed her in the neck and throat with a steak knife. Hodges is facing charges in two other murders: the November 2001 burglary and murder of Winnie Johnson (age 66) in Alaska, and the March 2003 rape and murder of Laverne Jansen (age 81) in Ohio. Defense argued that Hodges is mentally retarded and should not be put to death; his IQ is 69.
Sources: Pensacola News Journal (FL) 02/25/08 (2008 WLNR 26750205), 03/20/08 (2008 WLNR 26753105), 03/21/08 (2008 WLNR 26753296); The Cincinnati Enquirer (OH) 02/01/09 (2009 WLNR 16849793)

Michael King – White, age 37

Sentenced in Sarasota County, Florida
By: a judge upon jury recommendation (12-0)
Date of crime: January 17, 2008
Prosecution’s case/defense response: King kidnapped, raped, and then shot to death Denise Lee (age 21). King kidnapped Lee from her porch where she was cutting her child’s hair. During the kidnapping Lee managed to make a call to 911 from King’s phone. The tape includes her begging King for her life, and asking to see her family again. He then took her to his home, and raped her repeatedly. While driving Lee out to an undeveloped part of town to murder her, Lee was seen by other motorists who called in to 911 to report a woman in distress, but that information was not given to the authorities that were trying to find her. The defense presented evidence of King’s low IQ, a brain injury from a sledding accident as a child, and his depression from a recent break-up.
Sources: Sarasota Herald-Tribune (FL) 09/05/09 (2009 WLNR 17571718), 12/04/09 (2009 WLNR 24548904), 12/05/09 (2009 WLNR 24712857).

Genghis Kocaker — White, age 40

Sentenced in Pinellas-Pasco County, Florida
By: A judge after an 11-1 jury recommendation of death
Date of crime: 8/31/04
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Kocaker robbed cabdriver Eric Stanton for drug money, stabbed him, slashed his throat, bound him with a seatbelt, put him in the trunk, and set the cab on fire. Despite his wounds Stanton managed to get from the trunk into the passenger compartment, but died from the wounds and smoke inhalation. Kocaker had a prior manslaughter conviction, and eight robbery convictions, and had gotten out of prison only a couple of months before this murder. In mitigation the defense presented multiple factors: brain abnormality, multiple personality disorder, lifelong absence of Kocaker’s father, childhood sexual abuse, that he was HIV-positive, a history of substance abuse, that he was under the influence at the time of the murder, and that he had people who loved him.
Sources: St. Petersburg Times 6/14/08 (2008 WLNR 11248936), 12/19/09 (2009 WLNR 25675559).

William Kopsho – White, age 46 (re-sentence after appellate review)

Sentenced in Marion County, Florida
By: a judge upon jury recommendation
Date of crime: 2000
Prosecution’s case/defense response: (See also 2nd quarter 2005) Kopsho kidnapped his estranged wife, Lynne (age 21), as she was leaving work, and shot her three times. He had a prior sexual battery and false imprisonment convictions for crimes against another woman. The defense claimed Kopsho acted out of emotional duress after learning of Lynne’s infidelity. The original conviction was tossed out due to a technical error during jury selection.
Sources: Orlando Sentinel 10/28/00 (2000 WLNR 8580773), 05/25/07 (2007 WLNR 9825840); AP Alert 05/22/09 – FL 20:44:49; 07/08/09 (

Eric Patrick – White, age 42

Sentenced in Broward County, Florida
By: a judge upon jury recommendation (7-5)
Date of crime: September 2005
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Patrick hog-tied, beat, and strangled Steven Schumacher (age 72). Patrick also robbed Schumacher during the murder. Patrick admitted to the crime and claimed that it was in response to when Schumacher “made a pass” at him.
Sources: Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL) 10/10/09 (2009 WLNR 20015543), 10/10/09 (2009 WLNR 20015476); Miami Herald (FL) 10/11/09 (2009 WLNR 20040436).

Robert Peterson – White, age 41

Sentenced in Duval County, Florida
By: a judge upon jury recommendation (7-5)
Date of crime: August 29, 2007
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Peterson fatally shot his stepfather, Roy Andrews (age 64) after beating him. Andrews had been financially supporting Peterson for a number of years but told his son he would no longer help. Peterson lured his stepfather into a cemetery, beat him, and then shot him. Peterson maintains that he is innocent.
Sources: The Florida Times-Union 12/11/09 (2009 WLNR 25051542); Pro Death Penalty Resource Community 09/09/09 (

David Byron Russ – White, age 44

Sentenced in Seminole County, Florida
By: a judge after waiving a jury
Date of crime: May 7, 2007
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Russ beat and fatally stabbed Madeleine Leinen (age 58). Russ entered Leinen’s home, collected her valuables and then waited for her to come back home. When Leinen returned Russ hogtied her, severely beat her, and then stabbed her four times. Russ pleaded guilty. For sentencing Russ requested that the issue go directly to the judge and waived his right to a jury. Russ also refused to allow his attorney’s to be present at the sentencing, because he did not want any mitigating evidence to be presented.
Sources: Orlando Sentinel (FL) 02/07/08 (2008 WLNR 2336300), 04/15/08 (2008 WLNR 7011747), 05/27/08 (2008 WLNR 9981525), 01/10/09 (2009 WLNR 518316), 01/16/09 (2009 WLNR 903439, 05/14/09 (2009 WLNR 9178261)

William Silvia Jr. – White, age 41

Sentenced in Seminole County, Florida
By: a judge upon jury recommendation (11-1)
Date of crime: September 22, 2006
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Silvia shot his wife, Patricia Silvia (age 39), to death and wounded his mother-in-law. The defense argued that Silvia should not be put to death because he suffered from paranoia, a form of schizophrenia, and was an alcoholic.
Sources: Orlando Sentinel (FL) 06/08/08 (2008 WLNR 10818343), 07/22/08 (2008 WLNR 13655306), 01/29/09 (2009 WLNR 1693757)