2017-11-08 22:33:19 UTC
Appeals Court Rejects Patrick Hannon Stay, Will Be 26th Executed On Gov.
Patrick Hannon is to be executed at 6 p.m. Wednesday at a Florida state prison
Just hours before the scheduled execution of Death Row inmate Patrick Hannon, a
federal appeals court Wednesday rejected his request for a stay.
Hannon, scheduled to be executed at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Florida State Prison,
argued that new state death-penalty requirements related to the unanimity of
juries should be applied to his case.
But a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected
Hannon’s argument, pointing to precedent from a case this year in which the
state executed Death Row inmate Cary Michael Lambrix. That precedent, which
stemmed from a Florida Supreme Court ruling, effectively says the new
sentencing requirements should not be applied to cases before 2002.
Hannon was convicted and sentenced to death in the 1991 murders of two men in
“There (in the Lambrix case), we held that jurists of reason would not find
debatable the Florida Supreme Court’s rejection of the claim that the
nonretroactive application of Florida’s new sentencing statute violates the
Equal Protection Clause, the Due Process Clause, or the Eighth Amendment (of
the U.S. Constitution),” said the ruling by appeals-court judges Stanley
Marcus, William Pryor and Beverly Martin.
Gov. Rick Scott in October scheduled the Wednesday execution of Hannon, 53, who
was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder in the slayings of Brandon
Snider and Robert Carter. Hannon’s execution would be the 26th on Scott’s
watch, by far the most of any governor in the modern era.
Hannon and two other men went to the apartment where Snider and Carter lived on
Jan. 10, 1991. After one of the other men attacked and stabbed Snider, Hannon
was accused of cutting Snider’s throat, according to court documents. Hannon,
26 at the time, was then accused of fatally shooting Carter, who had tried to
hide under a bed.
The appeals-court ruling Wednesday was rooted in a series of legal and
legislative decisions that began in January 2016, when the U.S. Supreme Court
found Florida’s death-penalty sentencing system unconstitutional. The crux of
the U.S. Supreme Court decision was that the system gave too much power to
judges, instead of juries, in sentencing people to death.
Resulting Florida Supreme Court rulings and legislation now require juries to
unanimously recommend the death penalty before judges can impose death
sentences. Juries also are required to unanimously agree on critical findings
before death sentences can be imposed.
The Florida Supreme Court made the new sentencing requirements apply to cases
since 2002. That is when the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling known as Ring
v. Arizona that was a premise for striking down Florida’s death-penalty
sentencing system in 2016.
A jury unanimously recommended that Hannon be put to death, but it is not clear
whether jurors unanimously agreed on any of the critical findings.
While agreeing Wednesday on the precedent issue, Martin wrote a concurring
opinion that said Hannon’s scheduled execution was a “stark illustration of the
problems with Florida’s retroactivity rule.”
“No one disputes that he was sentenced to death by a process we now recognize
as unconstitutional,” Martin wrote. “Neither does anyone dispute that others
who were sentenced to death under those same unconstitutional procedures are
eligible for resentencing under Florida’s new law. The Florida Supreme Court’s
retroactivity analysis therefore leaves the difference between life and death
to turn on `either fatal or fortuitous accidents of timing.’ ”
A service courtesy of Washburn University School of Law www.washburnlaw.edu
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