Margaret Allen – Black, age 40

Sentenced in Brevard County, Florida
By: a judge upon jury recommendation (unanimous)
Date of crime: 2005
Victim: Wenda Wright, 39
Prosecution’s case/defense response:  Allen beat and strangled her housekeeper, Wright, suspecting that the victim had stolen her purse containing $2,000.  She then hid the body with the help of two accomplices.  The prosecution referred to the crime as being tortured to death as Allen attempted to extract information about the purse.  The defense argued physical and sexual abuse as an adult as mitigating factors.
Sources: Florida Today (FL) A1 5/20/11 (2011 WLNR 10162971), Florida Today (FL) 5/20/11 (2011 WLNR 10162977), Florida Today (FL) B1 2/19/11 (2011 WLNR 3326942).

Raymond Curtis Bright – Black, age 54

Sentenced in Duval County, Florida
By: a judge upon jury recommendation of death penalty (8-4)
Date of crime: February 2008
Victims: Randall Brown, 16, Derrick King III, 20
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Bright beat two victims (one 16 years old, one 20 years old) to death with a hammer.  The prosecution argued that Bright and the victims did drugs together and that forensic evidence showed that Bright had attacked them in their sleep.  The defense argued that the victims broke into Bright’s home in the middle of the night armed with a 9mm and that he attacked them in self-defense as per his “kill or be killed” marine training.  The judge, in handing down the sentence, called the murders particularly heinous, atrocious, and cruel.
Sources: Fla. Times Union (Jacksonville) 8/26/2009 (2009 WLNR 16648374), Fla. Times Union (Jacksonville) 9/2/09 (2009 WLNR 17195037), Fla. Times Union (Jacksonville) 11/19/2009 (2009 WLNR 23392337)

Thomas Brown – Black, age 27 

Sentenced in Duval County, Florida
By: a judge upon jury recommendation (7-5)
Date of crime: June 2009
Victim: Juanese Miller, 22
Prosecution’s case/defense response:  Brown complained about coworker Miller’s treatment of him, and despite management attempts at mediation, their disputes often ended in violence.  After a dispute, Brown left work threatening her, got a gun, returned, and shot Miller several times in the back and head before walking away and returning to fire one more shot into her head.  The defense argued that Brown suffered from mental instability, and his mother testified that he was schizophrenic and battled mental issues his whole life.  The prosecution disputed his mental issues and emphasized the premeditation and execution style kill.
Sources: Florida Times-Union 10/28/11 (, WOKV 10/28/11 (, First Coast News 10/31/11 (, Florida Times-Union 6/14/11 (

Ana Maria Cardona – Latino, age 29 (re-sentence after appellate reversal)

Sentenced in Miami-Dade County, Florida
By: a judge upon jury recommendation (7-5)
Date of crime: November 1990
Victim: Lazaro “Baby Lollipops” Cardona, toddler
Prosecution’s case/defense response:  Cardona Starved, tortured, and beat her toddler son, the fatal blow coming by baseball bat.  Cardona’s lover, Gonzalez served as the original key witness testifying that Cardona hated her son.  Cardona blamed Gonzalez and her own cocaine habit for failing to stop the abuse.  She was convicted, and the jury recommended death by 8-4.  Her case was overturned by the prosecution’s refusal to provide recordings of interviews. In the second trial, the prosecution relied primarily on Cardona’s recorded statements and medical evidence.  The condition of the toddler at the time of death showed extensive long term wounds as well as malnourishment.  The defense suggested the murderer was in fact a mentally challenged neighbor girl.  The prosecution argued that a social worker had used leading questions to elicit a confession from the neighbor.  The defense also showed a scarred and abusive childhood in Cuba.  Defense witnesses included a number of inmates, corrections officers, and Cardona’s surviving children testifying to her rehabilitation and character.
Sources: Miami Herald 10/15/10 (2010 WLNR 20614014).

Emilia Carr – Latina, age 24

Sentenced in Marion County, Florida
By: a judge upon jury recommendation (7-5)
Date of crime: February 2009
Victim: Heather Strong, 26
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Carr and her boyfriend Joshua Fulgham kidnapped Fulgham’s wife, bound her to a chair, and suffocated her with a plastic bag inside a storage trailer.  The defense alleged a history of child abuse and lack of physical evidence.
Sources: AP Alert – FL 12/11/10 00:57:15, WCJB-TV 12/10/2010 (, Ocala Star-Banner 4/12/2012 (

Leon Davis, Jr. – Black, age 29

(Davis also received two additional death sentences in 2012 for two other murders–see Florida 2012 page).
Sentenced in Polk County, Florida
By: a judge upon jury recommendation
Date of crime: December 2007
Victim: Yvonne Bustamante, 26, Juanita Luciano, 23, Luciano’s newborn son (born prematurely due to the attack)
Prosecution’s case/defense response:  Davis robbed an insurance office.  During the robbery, he doused the victims in gasoline and lit them.  Both eventually died from the burns, and Luciano went into premature labor due to the attack.  The defense asserted an alibi claiming he was fighting in the parking lot of a recreation center.  The judge noted as aggravating factors the pain and mental anguish of each and the awareness of impending death as both were bound, doused, and set afire.
Sources: 2/15/11 AP Alert – FL 20:47:36, 4/29/11 Tampa 8 WFLA-FL (2011 WLNR 8398928).

William Deparvine – White, age 51

Sentenced in Hillsborough County, Florida
By: a judge upon jury recommendation (8-4)
Date of crime: November 2003
Victim: Richard Van Dusen, Karla Van Dusen
Prosecution’s case/defense response:  Deparvine shot the Dusens in the back of the head and left them face down on a country highway after purchasing a vehicle from them.  The defense called Deparvine’s daughter as a character witness establishing him as a caring father and also called an expert psychologist testifying to his mental illness.  Deparvine took the stand for four hours trying to establish a narrative that accounted for the physical evidence including his blood being in their vehicle.  The prosecution derided this “concocted” story as the product of a clever legal mind and argued that the facts show that this was a carefully planned pre-meditated murder.
Sources: 8/4/05 AP Alert – FL 23:51:15, St. Petersburg Times (FL) 8/4/05 1B (2005 WLNR 23911982), St. Petersburg Times (FL) 11/23/05 3B (2005 WLNR 23874177), St. Petersburg Times (FL) 1/10/06 1B (2006 WLNR 539632).

Terry Ellerbee – White, age 21

Sentenced in Okeechobee County, Florida
By: a judge upon jury recommendation
Date of crime: September 2006
Victim: Thomas Dellarco, 72
Prosecution’s case/defense response:  Ellerbee shot Dellarco once in the head and killed his German shepherd in Dellarco’s barn.  Ellerbee’s girlfriend testified to his confession afterward.  She claimed that they and their child had been living off ditch water and squatting in vacant properties before Ellerbee returned one day with a new vehicle and a debit card.  The prosecution linked him to the scene with DNA and argued that he planned to take Dellarco’s house after the killing.  The defense highlighted the desperation of Ellerbee’s life at the time asking for leniency.
Sources: Okeechobee News (FL) 6/7/2009 (\01463)

Leonard Gonzalez, Jr. – Latino, age 35

Sentenced in Escambia County, Florida
By: a judge upon jury recommendation (Unknown count)
Date of crime: July 9, 2009
Victims: Byrd Billings, 66, Melanie Billings, 43
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Gonzalez organized, outfitted, and led a group of men in a home invasion looking for a safe he claimed contained $13 million.  Co-defendants testified that Gonzalez shot the husband twice in the leg, once in the cheek, and twice in the head while interrogating him about the location of the safe.  He then shot the wife twice in the head and twice in the chest when she could not remember the combination.  The defense argued a lack of DNA evidence linking him to the gun, a complicated web of self-serving statements from co-defendant testimony, and an unfair trial by media coverage.  The judge noted Gonzalez’s criminal history (strong-armed robbery), the heinous and atrocious nature of the execution style murders, and the presence of the couple’s nine adopted special-needs children as factors when deciding for the death penalty.
Sources: AP Alert – Legal 10/29/10 02:51:51, Pensacola News J. (Pensacola, Fla.) 1A 2/18/11 (2011 WLNR 3260341)

William Gregory – White, age 24

Sentenced in Volusia County, Florida
By: a judge upon jury recommendation (7-5)
Date of crime: August 21, 2007
Victim: Skyler Meekins, 17, Daniel Dyer, 22
Prosecution’s case/defense response:  Gregory snuck into the house in which his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend were sleeping.  He found a shotgun in the house, loaded it, and shot each in the head while his and Meekins’ daughter was sleeping in the next room.  The prosecution argued that Gregory had threatened to kill Meekins for months if she left him.  His plan had been detailed and methodical.  The defense argued that Dyer’s late arrival implied that premeditation was impossible, Dyer was using narcotics at the time, and no evidence of a threat existed.  Gregory also grew up in a broken home and suffered head injuries growing up.
Sources: 3/10/11 Daytona News-J. 01A (2011WLNR 4841818).

Gary Michael Hilton – White, age 60

Sentenced in Wakulla County, Florida
By: a judge upon jury recommendation (Unanimous)
Date of crime: December 2007
Victim: Cheryl Dunlap, 46
Prosecution’s case/defense response:  Hilton kidnapped, killed, and beheaded Dunlap afterward dumping her body in a national forest.  Hilton had already been sentenced for another murder and was suspected of several other similar acts in the region.  The prosecution condemned the acts as heinous, Hilton as an unstable schizophrenic, and brought several witnesses to testify to the victim’s trusting and compassionate nature.  The defense argued that the public was safe since Hilton is already sentenced to life, that the prosecution argued from inaccurate facts, and that mitigating factors such as a bad childhood, brain injury, mental disorders, and drug abuse justified sparing the death penalty.
Sources: 4/8/11 Tallahassee Democrat (FL) (Pg. Unavail. Online) (2011 WLNR 6825189).

Genghis Kocaker – White, age 41

Sentenced in Pinellas County, Florida
By: a judge upon jury recommendation (11-1)
Date of crime: August 31, 2004
Victim: Eric Stanton, 26
Prosecution’s case/defense response:  Broke from a crack binge, Kocaker slashed the throat of a cabbie, bound and locked him in the trunk, emptied the meter, and lit the car ablaze.  The victim died from a combination of smoke inhalation and the stabbing.  The defense argued mitigating factors including the lifelong absence of Kocaker’s father, sexual abuse he suffered as a child, his abnormal brain, multiple personality disorder, possible mental deterioration due to HIV, a history of substance abuse, and the fact that he was under the influence the night of the crime.  The judge found that these did not outweigh the aggravating factors of the heinous nature of the crime.
Sources: Tampa Trib. (Fla.) 6 11/20/04 (2004 WLNR 18494927), St. Petersburg Times 1 6/14/08 (2008 WLNR 11248936), St. Petersburg Times 3B 12/19/09 (2009 WLNR 25675559)

Lesly Jean-Philippe – Black, age 22

Sentenced in Duval County, Florida
By: a judge upon jury recommendation (Unanimous)
Date of crime: August 26, 2009
Victim: Elkie Jean-Philippe, 24
Prosecution’s case/defense response:  An MP testified he had reported to a dispute between Jean-Philippe and his wife where he confronted her about strange numbers on her phone.  A social worker testified that Jean-Philippe had held the victim, his wife, at knifepoint, forcibly cut off her hair, and disrupted her meeting with a counselor working toward getting her out of her marriage.  Jean-Philippe went on to stab Elkie 52 times including 30 direct stab wounds after posing as a pizza driver to gain access to her building.  The medical examiner testified that most of the wounds were defensive and that she was likely pleading for her life.  Neighbors confirmed she screamed for the lives of herself and her son in the next room.  The defense framed the situation as a self-defense act as Elkie’s sister had a knife when she answered the door.  The defense relied on sixteen character witnesses testifying to his prowess as a high school athlete and generosity to friends and family.  Jean-Philippe also showed scars on his neck from a failed suicide attempt.
Sources: Florida Times Union (FL) 3/10/11 (2011 WLNR 4810701), Florida Times Union (FL) 3/17/11 (2011 WLNR 5314684), Florida Times Union (FL) 3/17/11 (2011 WLNR 5226075).

Mark Poole – Black, age 38  (re-sentence after appellate reversal)

Sentenced in Polk County, Florida
By: a judge upon jury recommendation (11-1)
Date of crime: October 2001
Victim: Noah Scott, 24
Prosecution’s case/defense response:  Poole beat Scott to death with a tire iron as Scott tried to defend his pregnant fiancée from Poole’s rape and sexual assault.  The original case was overturned during the penalty phase due to improper use of his criminal history.  The prosecution argued the extreme aggravation of the terror and agony of Scott witnessing the rape of his fiancée while being slowly beaten to death.  The defense argued that investigator had focused in on Poole from the start at the exclusion of any second assailant.
Sources: Lakeland Ledger (FL) 4/22/05 (,739565), The Ledger (FL) 8/20/11 (

Hector Sanchez – Latino, age 20 

Sentenced in Clay County, Florida
By: a judge (waiving right to jury)
Date of crime: September 2009
Victim: Erik Colon, 19
Prosecution’s case/defense response:  Sanchez gunned down Colon while attempting to rob him on the street near his home.  Sanchez pleaded guilty and waived the right to a jury recommendation.  The court noted he had also been convicted for the first degree murder of Levi Rollins and sentenced to life in prison; hence, nothing short of capital punishment would be justice.
Sources: 9/7/11 AP Alert – FL 01:50:57, Florida-Times Union 9/6/11 (

Terry Antonio Smith – Black, 19

Sentenced in Duval County, Florida
By: a judge upon jury recommendation (for victim Gibson 8-4, for victim Keenan 10-2, for victim Robinson—life sentence)
Date of crime: 2007
Victim: Desmond Robinson, 24, Kennethia Keenan, 21, Berthum Gibson, 21
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Smith shot three people to death during a drug robbery at a house.  The prosecution suggested social structures had failed to restrain a man willing to kill for some quick cash.  The defense brought in family and friends to testify to his character and asked the jury to take in his relative youth and immaturity.  There was also evidence that Robinson might have also been armed.
Sources: Florida Times Union (FL) 3/5/11 (2011WLNR 4318867), 3/5/11 AP Alert – FL 11:31:03,  Florida Times Union (FL) 3/11/11 (

Darious Wilcox – Black, age 30

Sentenced in Broward County, Florida
By: a judge upon jury recommendation
Date of crime: February 2008
Victim: unknown
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Wilcox was convicted of one count of first degree felony-murder, one count of robbery with a dangerous weapon, four counts of kidnapping.  The defense argued the following mitigating factors: he was not properly nurtured by crack and heroin addicted mother; he lacked of stability in home; he had a dysfunctional childhood; he suffered from childhood depression; a life sentence would protect society; he had demonstrated good courtroom behavior.
Sources: Florida Department of Corrections 9/30/2012 (

Michael Yacob – Black, age 23 

Sentenced in Duval County, Florida
By: a judge upon jury recommendation
Date of crime: May 2008
Victim: Moussa Maida, 19
Prosecution’s case/defense response:  Yacob robbed a convenience store manned by Maida, who gave up the money and lay down on the floor.  After Yacob exited, Maida pressed a button locking Yacob out.  Yacob turned back and fired at him, but having missed, dropped the money to take careful aim and hit Maida in the stomach.  The prosecution entered a color video surveillance recording showing the entire scene clearly and allowing the jury to clearly hear Maida gasp his last breaths.  Yacob refused to let any character witnesses testify him, and the defense could only present the partial testimony of their investigator.  In handing down the sentence, the judge noted that while generally the Supreme Court would throw out a capital case with only murder-felony as an aggravating factor, the video showed that this was not a robbery gone bad but a malicious killing.  Further, the defendant refused to allow evidence of any mitigating factors.
Sources: Florida Times Union 12/5/11 (