Johnson v. State, 72694

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Florida
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM; BARKETT
Citation608 So.2d 4
Parties17 Fla. L. Weekly S603 Paul Beasley JOHNSON, Appellant, v. STATE of Florida, Appellee.
Docket NumberNo. 72694,72694
Decision Date01 October 1992

Page 4

608 So.2d 4
17 Fla. L. Weekly S603
Paul Beasley JOHNSON, Appellant,
v.
STATE of Florida, Appellee.
No. 72694.
Supreme Court of Florida.
Oct. 1, 1992.
Rehearing Denied Dec. 14, 1992.

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James Marion Moorman, Public Defender and Douglas S. Connor, Asst. Public Defender, Bartow, for appellant.

Robert A. Butterworth, Atty. Gen. and Candance M. Sunderland, Asst. Atty. Gen., Tampa, for appellee.

PER CURIAM.

Paul Johnson appeals his convictions of first-degree murder and sentences of death. We have jurisdiction. Art. V, Sec. 3(b)(1), Fla. Const. We affirm Johnson's convictions and sentences.

In 1981 a jury convicted Johnson of three counts of first-degree murder, two counts of robbery, kidnapping, arson, and two counts of attempted first-degree murder. The trial court sentenced him to death, among other things, and this Court affirmed the convictions and sentences. Johnson v. State, 438 So.2d 774 (Fla.1983), cert. denied, 465 U.S. 1051, 104 S.Ct. 1329, 79 L.Ed.2d 724 (1984). After the signing of a death warrant, Johnson petitioned this Court for writ of habeas corpus, claiming ineffective assistance of appellate counsel for not challenging the trial court's allowing his jury to separate after it began deliberating his guilt or innocence. We acknowledged that not keeping a capital-case jury together during deliberations is reversible error and granted Johnson a new trial. Johnson v. Wainwright, 498 So.2d 938 (Fla.1986), cert. denied, 481 U.S. 1016, 107 S.Ct. 1894, 95 L.Ed.2d 500 (1987). Johnson's retrial began in Polk County in October 1987. During the trial, however, the judge granted Johnson's motion for mistrial based on juror misconduct. After that, the judge granted Johnson's motions to disqualify him and to change venue of the case. The case then proceeded to trial in Alachua County in April 1988 with a retired judge assigned to hear it.

The following evidence was presented at the new trial. The evening of January 8, 1981 Johnson and his wife visited their friends Shayne and Ricky Carter. During the evening they all took injections of crystal methedrine and smoked marijuana. Johnson left the Carters' home later in the evening, and Ricky testified that Johnson said he was going to get more drugs and that he might steal something or rob something. Shayne testified that Johnson said that he was going to get money for more drugs and that "if he had to shoot someone, he would have to shoot someone."

A taxicab company dispatcher testified that driver William Evans went to pick up a fare at 11:15 p.m. on January 8 and called in to confirm the fare fifteen minutes later. Around 11:55 p.m. a stranger's voice came over the radio. Among other things, the stranger said that Evans had been knocked out. He stayed in touch with the dispatcher off and on until about 2:00 a.m. The dispatcher did not hear Evans after 11:30 p.m., and workers in an orange grove found Evans' body on January 14. Evans had been robbed and shot twice in the face. Searchers found his taxicab, which had been set on fire, in an orange grove about a mile from Evans' body.

When she got off work in the early hours of January 9, 1981, Amy Reid and her friend Ray Beasley went to a restaurant for breakfast. Johnson approached them in the parking lot and asked for a ride, claiming that his car had broken down. Beasley agreed to drive Johnson to a

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friend's house. During the drive, Johnson asked Beasley to stop the car so that he could urinate. While out of the car, Johnson asked Beasley to come to the rear of the car. When Reid looked back, she saw Johnson holding a handgun pointed at Beasley. She then locked the car's doors, moved to the driver's seat, and drove away to look for help.

Reid telephoned the sheriff's department from a convenience store, and deputies Clifford Darrington and Samuel Allison responded to her call around 3:45 a.m. The deputies drove Reid back to where she had left Johnson and Beasley, but found no one there. Back in the patrol car they heard a radio call from another deputy, Theron Burnham, advising that he had seen a possible suspect on the road. When they arrived at Burnham's location, they found his patrol car parked with the motor running, the lights on, and a door open, but could not see Burnham. Johnson, however, walked in front of their car, spoke to them, and then began firing at them with a handgun. The deputies returned Johnson's shots, and he ran across a field and disappeared among some trees. Allison then found Burnham's body in a roadside drainage ditch. He had been shot three times, and his service revolver was missing.

Later that day, Beasley's body was found seven-tenths of a mile from where Burnham was killed. He had been shot once in the head, and his body was in a weedy area and could not be seen from the road. Although there were some coins in his pockets, his wallet was gone.

The following afternoon Johnson's wife was still at the Carters' home. They saw a police sketch of the suspect in the night's events in a newspaper and discussed whether it looked like Johnson. Johnson telephoned the Carters' home, and, after speaking with him, his wife became very upset. Ricky Carter asked Johnson if he had done the killings reported in the newspaper, and Johnson replied: "If that's what it says." Carter went to pick up Johnson, taking a shirt that Johnson changed into. Johnson threw the shirt he had been wearing, which had been described in the newspaper, out the car's window. While driving home, Carter heard Johnson's wife ask, "You killed him, too?" to which Johnson replied, "I guess so." At the Carters' home Johnson told them that he hit the deputy with his handgun when told to place his hands on the patrol car and then struggled with him, during and after which he shot the deputy three times.

The authorities arrested Johnson for the Beasley and Burnham murders on January 10 and charged him with Evans' murder the following week. Reid, Allison, and Darrington identified him, and his fingerprints were found in Evans' taxicab.

While Johnson was in jail awaiting trial, inmate James Leon Smith was in a cell near him. At trial Smith testified that Johnson told him that he killed a taxicab driver and set the taxicab on fire to destroy his fingerprints, that he shot Beasley while Beasley was on his knees and stole one hundred dollars from Beasley, and that he shot the deputy.

Johnson's defense was that, at the time of these killings, he was insane because of his drug use. To this end he presented numerous witnesses, including a pharmacologist, who testified about the effects of amphetamines on the human nervous system, and several acquaintances, who testified about his drug use. Thomas McClane, a psychiatrist, examined Johnson in 1987 and testified that, at the time of these crimes, Johnson was so intoxicated by drugs that he was suffering from an amphetamine psychosis which rendered him temporarily insane. Another psychiatrist, Walter Afield, examined Johnson in both 1981 and 1987 and opined that Johnson suffered from a toxic psychosis that made him insane. On cross-examination, however, Afield acknowledged that he relied only on Johnson's statements regarding his drug use and that someone can be psychotic but still know right from wrong and still know what he or she is doing.

Two psychiatrists testified in rebuttal for the prosecution. In Gary Ainsworth's opinion Johnson was not insane when he committed these crimes. Johnson had been committed to a psychiatric unit because of

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drug abuse in 1980, and Ainsworth testified that Johnson was not as intoxicated when he committed the instant crimes as he was during the 1980 episode. Robert Coffer's opinion was similar, and he found significant differences between the 1980 incident and these crimes. He testified that, although intoxicated, Johnson did not have a toxic psychosis and was sane while committing these crimes on January 8 and 9, 1981.

After hearing all of the evidence, the jury rejected Johnson's insanity defense and found him guilty as charged of three counts of first-degree murder, two counts of armed robbery, kidnapping, arson, and two counts of attempted first-degree murder.

In the penalty phase Johnson presented testimony from his aunt and two uncles and from three of the psychiatrists who testified during the guilt phase. The jury recommended that he be sentenced to death for each of the murders. The trial court agreed with that recommendation and imposed three death sentences.

As his first point on appeal, Johnson claims that the trial court erred in granting the State's challenge for cause of two particular prospective jurors. Early in voir dire of the first group of prospective jurors, the prosecutor asked the following question: "Now, understanding that that may be one of the issues in this case, is there anyone here today who has a fixed and settled opinion against the death penalty? If so, raise your hand." Four prospective jurors did so, and the prosecutor questioned them further. Their answers established that these four people could not fairly consider Johnson's guilt knowing that death was a possible penalty. The prosecutor then asked:

In a case where a defendant has been found guilty of first degree murder, is your feeling about the death penalty such, having had a chance to think about it for a moment now, all of you, is your feeling about the death penalty such that you could not, under any circumstances that you can think of, vote to impose a sentence of death on a defendant? If that's the case, raise your hand.

(Emphasis added.) In addition to the four people who answered the first question affirmatively, prospective jurors Daniels and Blakely raised their hands in response to this second question. The prosecutor asked no further questions as to the death penalty of the six prospective jurors, including Blakely and Daniels, that responded to the second above-quoted question. Although defense...

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54 practice notes
  • State v. Gollehon, s. 92-156
    • United States
    • Montana United States State Supreme Court of Montana
    • December 14, 1993
    ...that death qualification is constitutional and does not infringe upon the accused's due process rights. Johnson v. State (Fla.1992), 608 So.2d 4; Pickens v. Lockhart (E.D.Ark.1992), 802 F.Supp. 208; Clayton v. State (Okl.Cr.App.1992), 840 P.2d 18; People v. Hill (1992), 3 Cal.4th Page 256 9......
  • Duest v. State, SC00-2366.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • June 26, 2003
    ...prior offenses after the witness stated that she considered the convictions in formulating her opinions (issue 7), see Johnson v. State, 608 So.2d 4, 10-11 (Fla. 1992); § 90.705(1), Fla. Stat.; and (4) in giving the jury death recommendation great weight while also independently weighing th......
  • Smith v. State, SC06-747.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • December 17, 2009
    ...Such a process was clearly not followed during these proceedings. . . . . 615 So.2d at 690-91 (emphasis added).... In Johnson v. State, 608 So.2d 4 (Fla. 1992), this Court rejected the defendant's 28 So.3d 871 claim that a videotape he made expressing remorse should have been shown to the j......
  • Troy v. Sec'y of Dep't of Corr., Case No. 8:11-cv-796-T30-AEP
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Florida
    • January 2, 2013
    ...with Troy exercising his right to be heard in person before the judge prior to the imposition of the death penalty.In Johnson v. State, 608 So. 2d 4 (Fla. 1992), this Court rejected the defendant's claim that a videotape he made expressing remorse should have been shown to the jury. Id. at ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
54 cases
  • State v. Gollehon, s. 92-156
    • United States
    • Montana United States State Supreme Court of Montana
    • December 14, 1993
    ...that death qualification is constitutional and does not infringe upon the accused's due process rights. Johnson v. State (Fla.1992), 608 So.2d 4; Pickens v. Lockhart (E.D.Ark.1992), 802 F.Supp. 208; Clayton v. State (Okl.Cr.App.1992), 840 P.2d 18; People v. Hill (1992), 3 Cal.4th Page 256 9......
  • Duest v. State, SC00-2366.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • June 26, 2003
    ...prior offenses after the witness stated that she considered the convictions in formulating her opinions (issue 7), see Johnson v. State, 608 So.2d 4, 10-11 (Fla. 1992); § 90.705(1), Fla. Stat.; and (4) in giving the jury death recommendation great weight while also independently weighing th......
  • Smith v. State, SC06-747.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • December 17, 2009
    ...Such a process was clearly not followed during these proceedings. . . . . 615 So.2d at 690-91 (emphasis added).... In Johnson v. State, 608 So.2d 4 (Fla. 1992), this Court rejected the defendant's 28 So.3d 871 claim that a videotape he made expressing remorse should have been shown to the j......
  • Troy v. Sec'y of Dep't of Corr., Case No. 8:11-cv-796-T30-AEP
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Florida
    • January 2, 2013
    ...with Troy exercising his right to be heard in person before the judge prior to the imposition of the death penalty.In Johnson v. State, 608 So. 2d 4 (Fla. 1992), this Court rejected the defendant's claim that a videotape he made expressing remorse should have been shown to the jury. Id. at ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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