Articles Posted in First-Degree Murder

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The good news is that overall crime is down in Flagler County, but the bad news is that violent crime is up in many categories.

According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Uniform Crime Report, the rates of rape, aggravated assault, burglaries and stolen vehicles all increase in 2015. There was also one murder in the county, up from zero in 2014.

Flagler County’s sheriff says his deputies have managed to keep the crime rate low for a long time. And despite increases in key categories, the overall crime rate is still down .6 percent.

The increase has been blamed on population growth. In the last four years, the county’s population has grown by about 10 percent.

The sheriff said whenever they start to see a spike in crime in specific areas, they flood the zones with patrols.

Statewide, crime is also up in several categories, although overall crime is down 1.6 percent.

In 2015, the crime rates rose in the following categories:

  • Murder: 5.7 percent
  • Rape: 6.1 percent
  • Fondling: 2.0 percent
  • Aggravated Assault: 3.9 percent
  • Motor vehicle Theft: 12.4 percent

The report also breaks down domestic violence-related crime by category. Overall, domestic violence-related crime is up .5 percent.

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A Florida podiatrist has been accused of killing his estranged wife and using part of her life insurance settlement to pay for his criminal defense.

Reports indicate that the 48-year-old doctor pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of his wife, whose body was found at the bottom of their home’s swimming pool in February 2014.

Court records show a settlement on the woman’s $1 million life insurance policy was reached last month. It grants $200,000 to her husband’s criminal defense attorney, $25,000 to a civil attorney and $150,000 directly to the doctor.

Shortly before her death, the woman had filed for divorce and been given temporary custody of the couple’s daughters and their Tallahassee home.

The doctor has been released from jail on $250,000 bond.

If you have been charged with homicide or murder anywhere in the state of Florida, including Leon County, you need the best criminal defense lawyer in the state of Florida. Call a Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton at 866-608-5529 as soon as possible for a free consultation. Your freedom and your liberty are our main concerns, and we can help you understand your legal rights and options.

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Former University of Florida Gator and New England Patriots football player Aaron Hernandez was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison Wednesday for the murder of 27-year-old Odin Lloyd.

Hernandez, 25, who once had a $40 million contract and a standout career ahead of him, will now be serving a mandatory sentence of life without parole.

The former football pro was also found guilty on weapons charges. The jury deliberated for 36 hours over seven days before rendering its verdict.

6566853359_6d069f2b0b_zLloyd was shot six times in the middle of the night on June 17, 2013, in a deserted industrial park near Hernandez’s home in North Attleborough.

Police almost immediately began investigating Hernandez because they found a key to a car that the NFL player had rented in Lloyd’s pocket. Hours after he was arrested, the Patriots cut the former Pro Bowl athlete, who was considered one of the top tight ends in the NFL.

Prosecutors presented a great amount of evidence during trial that Hernandez was with Lloyd at the time he was killed, including home security video from Hernandez’s mansion, witness testimony and cellphone records that tracked Lloyd’s movements.

Hernandez’s lawyer also acknowledged for the first time during closing arguments that Hernandez was there when Lloyd was killed.

But, Hernandez’s attorney told the court that two of Hernandez’s friends, Ernest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz, killed Lloyd. Wallace and Ortiz will stand trial later.

The prosecution never offered a motive other than Hernandez appeared angry with Lloyd at a nightclub two nights before the killing.

Hernandez still awaits trial on other murder charges. He is accused of gunning down two men over a spilled drink at a nightclub.

In the Lloyd killing, the defense argued that investigators pinned the murder on Hernandez because of his celebrity status.

Prosecutors believe that Hernandez organized the killing, made his two friends help carry it out and drove Lloyd and the others to the secluded spot in the industrial park. During closing arguments, prosecutors also allege that Hernandez shot the man, though under the law it is not necessary to prove who fired the shots to achieve a conviction.

Security video from inside Hernandez’s home showed him holding what appeared to be a gun less than 10 minutes after Lloyd was killed. The surveillance system also showed Hernandez, Wallace and Ortiz hanging out at his home hours after Lloyd was shot.

Hernandez was an All-American out of the University of Florida who was drafted by the Patriots in the fourth round in 2010.

This case does not end with this guilty verdict. There will undoubtedly be an appeal to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. There are many issues in this case that could be a strong grounds for appeal, including the fact that the judge allowed certain parts of the expert’s testimony on the Glock being the murder weapon, but excluded other parts. It could be asserted that the expert’s entire testimony was improper. The defense reminded the jury during closing argument that the expert’s testimony had been struck from evidence and should be disregarded. Because of the defense’s reference to this testimony during closing, it could be argued that asking the jury to ignore such incriminating evidence was unfairly prejudicial, which in turn would warrant a new trial.

It will most definitely be interesting to see how an appeal plays out for Hernandez.

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673264_hammer_to_fall.jpgThe Florida Supreme Court has vacated the death sentence of a man convicted of first-degree murder in Lake County, ruling that the man’s attorneys failed to thoroughly investigate and present that the man has low intelligence, a substance abuse problem and a brain injury suffered as a child.

While the man’s murder conviction was unanimously upheld on Thursday, he was ordered a new sentencing hearing by a vote of 5-2.

The man also received two life sentences for kidnapping and sexual battery.

The victim was beaten and stabbed. Her body was found in Sorrento, Florida in a wooded area.

The justices noted that the man’s family asked the man’s lawyers not to disclose anything bad or embarrassing about him, which is why the vote for a new sentencing hearing was not unanimous.

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875413_balance.jpgJacksonville, Florida – A 13-year-old boy, accused of killing his 2-year-old brother and sexually abusing his 5-year-old half-brother, has been charged as an adult, making him the youngest inmate awaiting trial in Duval County.

The boy is facing a first-degree murder charge in the 2011 beating death of his younger brother, and if convicted he could face a life sentence.

The boy being charged as an adult has received mixed reviews among the public.

Those that support the decision believe that if the boy is convicted, he should be held accountable to the full extent of the law. Still, others believe the boy should be given a second chance at life and needs help as opposed to life behind bars.

In most other states, children accused of violent criminal acts are usually tried in juvenile court. Last year, a Colorado boy received seven years in a juvenile facility and three years parole after being convicted of killing his two parents when he was 12. A boy in Pennsylvania accused of killing his father’s pregnant fiancée and her unborn child this year when he was 11, was recently sent to a juvenile facility where he could remain until his 21st birthday.

If this case gets as far as trial, the judge will have to determine whether to consider the boy’s past when deciding his future.

The 13-year-old was born to his 12-year-old mother in 1999 in Miami, Florida. His 25-year-old father received 10 years’ probation for sexually assaulting his mother.

Both mother and son went to foster care two years later after authorities in south Florida discovered the child wandering the street at 4 a.m., naked and covered in filth, near the motel where his grandmother apparently used drugs.

When the boy was 8, the Department of Children and Families was notified that he was possibly sexually molested by an older cousin. Other incidents involving the boy were also reported, including claims that the boy simulated sex with classmates, masturbated at school and allegedly killed a kitten.

In October 2010, the boy and his mother were living in Hialeah with his mother’s new husband. The school he was attending claims the boy suffered an eye injury that was so bad he was sent to the hospital to be examined for retinal damage. The boy told officials his stepfather punched him. Before officers could investigate, the man was found at the family’s apartment dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The family then moved to Jacksonville where the boy was enrolled in middle school and apparently received straight A’s.

A few months later, police were called to the family’s apartment because the boy’s baby brother had died at a local hospital from a fractured skull, bruising to his left eye and a bleeding brain.

The boy’s mother, then 25, apparently told police that on March 14, 2011 she had left her children at home alone. Police claim when she arrived at home later, she found her 2-year-old child unconscious but waited 8 hours before taking him to the hospital.
Police allege that she texted friends and searched “unconsciousness” online during those hours.

She apparently told police that two weeks before the toddler was killed her older son broke the child’s legs while wrestling.

The medical examiner said the child may have survived if the mother had taken him to the hospital earlier.

The mother pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter in March. She could receive 30 years.

The 13-year-old boy was originally questioned by police as a witness, but was soon charged with first-degree murder. He was charged with a second felony after his 5-year-old half-brother told a psychiatrist that he had sexually assaulted him.

The boy has apparently talked openly to investigators and therapists regarding his life and the events leading up to his brother’s death. Prosecutors claim the boy poses a significant risk of violence, which is why he is being detained pre-trial and has been charged with two first-degree felonies.

In August, a judge ruled that police interrogations in the murder and sexual assault cases are inadmissible as the boy could not have possibly given consent to waive his rights to remain silent and consult an attorney.

Prosecutors are appealing this decision.

According to the Justice Department, 29 children throughout the U.S. under the age of 14 committed homicides in 2010. The complexity of this case could change how Florida courts handle first-degree murder charges involving juvenile defendants throughout the state. This summer, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional for juvenile offenders to receive life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Juveniles accused of committing felony crimes are placed in a tough position. A juvenile 14 years of age or older face mandatory filing of adult charges when facing certain felony charges, including:

Murder

• Armed Robbery
• Rape
• Carjacking
Additionally, a child 14 years of age or older can be tried as an adult if they are facing additional crimes of violence against others or have previously committed a felony offense involving the use of a firearm. For children under the age of 14, the State Attorney gets to decide whether or not to try the juvenile as an adult.

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A judge refused to set bail Wednesday for a 64-year-old Lake Alfred woman accused of killing her 77-year-old husband and burying his body in the couple’s backyard garden.

The woman’s lawyer argued that the woman has seriously health issues that cannot be properly addressed in jail.

The woman is diagnosed with fibromyalgia — a chronic disorder that affects the muscles and causes extensive pain.

The woman apparently takes more than 20 pills a day, including pain killers.

Her attorney asked the Polk County judge to set bail for the woman because her case is “unique,” and because she voluntarily submitted to questioning in front of investigators and a grand jury.

However, the Assistant State Attorney claims the woman has not been truthful in her answers to law enforcement.

The woman was indicted Tuesday on a charge of premeditated first-degree murder.

First-degree premeditated murder is the intentional killing of another person with a deliberate plan to kill. In all homicide cases, the State typically assigns veteran law enforcement officers and prosecutors to investigate and handle these cases. Usually advanced technology is utilized when conducting homicide investigations and more money is spent by the department to perform a thorough investigation, which is why these charges require the assistance of an aggressive criminal defense lawyer to provide an applicable defense. Generally, a person charged with first-degree murder will be denied bond and will sit in jail throughout the entire duration of the legal process.

There are possible defenses to first-degree murder, including:

• Self-defense
• Excusable Homicide
• Justifiable Homicide
First-degree murder is a capital felony, meaning your life is on the line. It is imperative to begin building a zealous defense immediately as this is viewed as the most serious crime on the books in Florida. There are only two potential outcomes following a conviction for first-degree murder: the death penalty or life in prison with zero possibility of parole. Prosecutors may choose to waive the option for the death penalty, but if they do not, and a defendant is convicted, the choice is left to a jury to decide between life and death. Because of the extreme penalties attached to murder charges, it is important to start fighting the process early on.

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