Articles Posted in Murder

In Florida, the State generally cannot conduct a criminal trial unless the defendant is deemed mentally competent to proceed. As such, if a court fails to accurately assess whether a defendant has the mental capacity to participate in a fair trial and the defendant is ultimately convicted, the defendant may have grounds to argue the conviction should be reversed. In a recent Florida murder case, a court examined whether a trial court’s acceptance of a guilty plea without conducting a competency hearing violated the defendant’s right to due process. If you are accused of murder or another violent crime, it is in your best interest to retain an experienced St. Petersburg violent crime defense attorney to help you seek a fair outcome.

Factual and Procedural History

It is reported that the defendant, who was incarcerated, was suspected of attacking another inmate. The victim, who died from his injuries, was briefly interviewed prior to his death and named the defendant as the person who both bound his hands and feet and stabbed him. The defendant was interviewed as well, admitting to tying the victim up but stated he blacked out after that due to anger, and could not recall what happened. The defendant was charged with first-degree murder, to which he pleaded guilty.

Allegedly, the prosecution and defense counsel both then agreed to enter the defendant’s competency evaluation reports into evidence. The defendant was ultimately sentenced to death. Following his sentencing, he appealed, arguing in part that the court violated his right to due process by failing to conduct a competency hearing.

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There are numerous defenses and arguments a criminal defendant may be able to set forth to avoid a conviction or a severe sentence. As explained in a recent Florida case in which the defendant was convicted of numerous violent crimes, including first-degree murder, most defenses cannot be argued retroactively, however. If you are charged with murder, attempted murder, or any other violent crime, it is critical to retain an assertive St. Petersburg violent crime defense attorney to discuss what defenses you may be able to assert to protect your rights.

The Defendant’s Conviction and Appeal

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with and convicted of first-degree murder of his ex-girlfriend, attempted first-degree murder with a firearm, and burglary. He was sentenced to death for the first-degree murder conviction, and the sentence eventually became final. The defendant then filed a post-conviction motion asking the court for relief on several grounds. The court denied the defendant’s motion and affirmed his sentence. The defendant then appealed.

Post-Conviction Defenses

First, the defendant argued on appeal that he was entitled to relief under Atkins v. Virginia, a United States Supreme Court case and cases that were subsequently decided in the Florida courts, on the grounds that he suffered from an intellectual disability. The court rejected this assertion, stating that the law was clear that relief for an intellectual disability could not be granted retroactively. Thus, the court affirmed the lower court ruling dismissing the petition for relief due to intellectual disability as time-barred.

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