Recent Cases - Direct Appeals

Mclean v. State

Case No.: SC07-2297

Opinion Date: 2/11/2010

Holding: Affirmed conviction and sentence of death.

Aggravators: Of the aggravators, the court found (1) that when McLean committed the murder, he had been previously convicted of a felony and placed on felony probation (moderate weight); (2) that McLean was previously convicted of a felony involving the use or threat of violence, based on McLean‘s prior armed robbery conviction and the contemporaneous conviction for the attempted first-degree murder of Lewis (great weight); and (3) that McLean committed the murder during the commission of a robbery (great weight).

Mitigators: The trial court found two statutory mitigating circumstances: (1) McLean‘s mental or emotional disturbance at the time of the crime (little weight); and (2) McLean‘s capacity to appreciate the criminality of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law (little weight). The court also found six categories of nonstatutory mitigating circumstances: (1) mental health issues (no weight); (2) substance abuse issues (little weight); (3) disparate treatment of codefendants (no weight); (4) family problems (little weight); (5) brain injury (little weight); and (6) miscellaneous factors, such as poor grades in high school, good behavior in court, and lack of positive role models in his youth (little weight).

 

Barnes v. State

Case No.: SC08-63

Opinion Date: 2/04/2010

Holding: Affirmed convictions and sentence of death.

Aggravators: The court found the following aggravators: (1) the murder was committed by one under sentence of imprisonment (great weight); (2) Barnes was previously convicted of another capital felony or felony involving use or threat of violence (murder of his wife in 1997) (great weight); (3) the murder was committed while Barnes was engaged in commission of a sexual battery and burglary (great weight); (4) the murder was committed for the purpose of avoiding or preventing a lawful arrest (great weight); (5) the murder was especially heinous, atrocious or cruel (great weight); and (6) the murder was cold, calculated and premeditated (great weight).

Mitigators: The court found one statutory mitigator, that Barnes was under the influence of extreme mental or emotional disturbance, and accorded it slight weight.  The nonstatutory mitigators were: (1) Barnes came forward and revealed his involvement in the unsolved crime (little weight); (2) he took responsibility for his acts (little weight); (3) he was under the influence of a mental or emotional disturbance (duplicating statutory mitigator and given little weight); (4) he has experienced prolonged drug use (little weight); (5) he did not have the benefit of a loving relationship with his mother (little weight); (6) he did not have the benefit of a loving relationship with his father (little weight): (7) he was sexually abused as a child (slight weight); (8) he has taken steps to improve himself (little weight); and (9) he is a functional and capable person and has demonstrated by his action and participation in this case that he has sufficient intelligence and capabilities to contribute to society (little weight).

 

Twilegar v. State

Case No.: SC07-1622

Opinion Date: 1/07/2010

Holding: Affirm conviction and sentence of death.

Aggravators: The court found that the following aggravating circumstances had been established, with the following weights: (1) the capital felony was committed for pecuniary gain (great weight); and (2) the capital felony was committed in a cold, calculated and premeditated manner (CCP) (great weight). 

Mitigators: The court found that the following nonstatutory mitigating circumstances had been established, with the following weights: (1) the defendant had a disadvantaged and dysfunctional family background and childhood (little weight); (2) the defendant had received a limited formal education in that he had completed only the seventh grade (little weight); (3) the defendant had abused drugs as a teenager (very little weight); and (4) the alternative punishment to death is life in prison without parole (significant weight).

 

McKenzie v. State 

Case No.: SC07-2101

Opinion Date:1/07/2010

Holding: Affirmed convictions and sentence of death.

Aggravators: The trial court determined that the State had proven beyond a reasonable doubt the existence of four statutory aggravating circumstances: (1) McKenzie had previously been convicted of another capital felony or of a felony involving the use or threat of violence to the person, see § 921.141(5)(b), Fla. Stat. (2006) (eight prior convictions and the contemporaneous murder of the other victim) (great weight); (2) the murders were committed while McKenzie was engaged in the commission of a robbery, see § 921.141(5)(d) (significant weight); (3) the murders were committed for pecuniary gain, see § 921.141(5)(f) (merged with robbery aggravator—no additional weight given); and (4) the murders were cold, calculated, and premeditated (CCP), see § 921.141(5)(i) (great weight).

Mitigators: The trial court found a total of seven nonstatutory mitigating factors: (1) McKenzie suffered from a cocaine addiction (little weight); (2) McKenzie was the victim of child abuse (little weight); (3) McKenzie exhibited good behavior during court proceedings (some weight) (4) McKenzie expressed remorse (some weight); (5) McKenzie cooperated with police (some weight); (6) McKenzie possesses a GED and certificates in architectural design (very little weight); and (7) McKenzie is currently serving a life sentence for armed carjacking, and the minimum mandatory sentence for the murders is life without the possible of parole (little weight).