Lawrence v. State, No. SC00-1827.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Florida
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM.
Citation846 So.2d 440
Decision Date20 March 2003
Docket NumberNo. SC00-1827.
PartiesJonathan Huey LAWRENCE, Appellant, v. STATE of Florida, Appellee.

846 So.2d 440

Jonathan Huey LAWRENCE, Appellant,
v.
STATE of Florida, Appellee

No. SC00-1827.

Supreme Court of Florida.

March 20, 2003.

Rehearing Denied May 14, 2003.


846 So.2d 442
Nancy A. Daniels, Public Defender, Chet Kaufman and David A. Davis, Assistant Public Defenders, Second Judicial Circuit, Tallahassee, FL, for Appellant

Charles J. Crist, Jr., Attorney General and Stephen R. White, Assistant Attorney General, Tallahassee, FL, for Appellee.

PER CURIAM.

We have on appeal Jonathan Huey Lawrence's sentence of death. We have jurisdiction. See art. V, § 3(b)(1), Fla. Const. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

FACTS

On March 24, 2000, Lawrence pled guilty to principal to first-degree murder of Jennifer Robinson, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, giving alcoholic beverages to a person under twenty-one, and abuse of a dead human corpse. Lawrence's codefendant, Jeremiah Martel Rodgers, picked up eighteen-year-old Jennifer Robinson from her mother's home on May 7, 1998. Rodgers and Robinson met Lawrence, and all three drove in Lawrence's truck to a secluded area in the woods. After imbibing alcoholic beverages, Robinson had sex with Rodgers and then with Lawrence. At some point thereafter, Rodgers shot Robinson in the back of the head using Lawrence's Lorcin .380 handgun.1 The gunshot rendered Robinson

846 So.2d 443
instantly unconscious, and she died minutes later. Lawrence and Rodgers loaded Robinson's body into Lawrence's truck and drove further into the woods. Lawrence made an incision into Robinson's leg and removed her calf muscle. Rodgers took Polaroid pictures of the body, including a picture of Lawrence's hand holding Robinson's foot. Lawrence and Rodgers buried Robinson at that site

Investigators traced Robinson's disappearance to Lawrence and Rodgers. When confronted by Investigator Todd Hand, Lawrence denied knowing Robinson and consented to Hand's request to search Lawrence's trailer and truck. After recovering multiple notes written by Lawrence and Polaroid photographs depicting Robinson post-mortem, Hand arrested Lawrence. One page of the recovered notes states in part: "get her very drunk," "yell in her ears to check consicouse [sic]," "even slap hard," "[r]ape many, many, many times," "`slice and dice,' [d]isect [sic] completely," "bag up eatabile [sic] meats," and "bag remains and bury and burn." Another page of notes provides a list of items and tasks, some of which had been checked off or scribbled out. That list includes "coolers of ice = for new meat," strawberry wine, everclear alcohol, scalpels, Polaroid film, and ".380 or-and bowies [knives]." Other items located by investigators during their search of Lawrence's trailer and truck included a box for a Lorcin .380 handgun; empty Polaroid film packages; a piece of human tissue in Lawrence's freezer; a blue and white ice chest; an empty plastic ice bag; disposable gloves; a scrapbook; and several books, including an anatomy book entitled The Incredible Machine, within which had been marked female anatomy pages and pen lines drawn at the calf section of a leg. Lawrence subsequently confessed to his involvement, after waiving his Miranda2 rights, and led detectives to Robinson's body.

At Lawrence's penalty phase before a jury, the State introduced evidence of Lawrence's prior violent crimes3 and argued

846 So.2d 444
that the murder was committed in a cold, calculated, and premeditated manner (CCP). The State also introduced Lawrence's tape-recorded confession. Lawrence called witnesses who testified about Lawrence's disturbed childhood and his mental capacity.4 The jury recommended death by a vote of eleven to one

The trial court accepted additional evidence and testimony at the Spencer hearing5 and then followed the jury's recommendation and imposed a death sentence. The trial court found two aggravating circumstances: (1) Lawrence was previously convicted of another capital felony or of a felony involving the use or threat of violence to the person (great weight); and (2) the capital felony was a homicide and was committed in a cold, calculated, and premeditated manner without any pretense of moral or legal justification (great weight).6

846 So.2d 445
The trial court found five statutory mitigating circumstances: (1) the capital felony was committed while Lawrence was under the influence of extreme mental or emotional disturbance (considerable weight); (2) the capacity of Lawrence to appreciate the criminality of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of law was substantially impaired (considerable weight); (3) the age of Lawrence (twenty-three years) at the time of the crime (some weight); (4) Lawrence's caring and giving relationship to his family, especially his mother, (little weight); and (5) the sick and disturbed home life in which Lawrence was raised (considerable weight).7 The trial court also found four nonstatutory mitigating circumstances.8 See State v. Lawrence, No. 98-270-CFA (Fla. 1st Cir. Ct. order filed Aug. 15, 2000) (hereinafter sentencing order).

Regarding the statutory mental mitigators, the trial court found:

[Lawrence] presented the testimony of three experts: Dr. Frank Wood, a neuropsychologist, Dr. Barry Crown, a licensed psychologist, and Dr. Robert Napier, a licensed psychologist.
....
The uncontroverted expert opinions along with other evidence in the record demonstrate that [Lawrence] has organic brain damage and a substantial history of mental health problems. He does suffer from a mental or emotional disturbance and was under the influence of this disturbance at the time of this crime. This mental or emotional disturbance influenced Lawrence or his behavior during the criminal episode. However, the entirety of the evidence diminishes the substantiality of the influence. See Foster v. State, 679 So.2d 747, 755 (Fla.1996) (stating "[e]ven uncontroverted opinion testimony can be rejected, especially when it is hard to reconcile with the other evidence presented in this case.") (citing Wuornos v. State, 644 So.2d 1000, 1010 (Fla. 1994)).[n.]

[n.]7. When the entire evidence presented is viewed in toto, this Court is convinced Lawrence's capacity to appreciate the criminality of his conduct or his ability to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law was impaired, but seriously questions

846 So.2d 446
if the impairment was relatively substantial. Lawrence obviously has both cognitive and volitional deficiencies. He is mentally and emotionally disturbed. Nonetheless, he clearly has the ability to appreciate the criminality of his conduct and, when he decides to do so, conforms his conduct to the requirements of the law. As brought out in Dr. Wood's testimony, the vast majority of people who suffer schizophrenia do not commit murder and those who do often suffer hallucinations or delusions not competently evidenced in this case. There was no competent, substantial evidence [that Lawrence] experienced delusional thinking or perceptual disturbances.... In sum, Lawrence's criminality appears to be more substantively a product of his intrinsic or moral makeup (i.e., his character, his values, the "habits of his heart" to use the phraseology of Alex De Touqville) than the result of an overriding mental or emotional impairment.
....
To summarize, Lawrence was able to establish the existence of these two mental mitigators. He was under the influence of extreme mental or emotional disturbance. However, he failed to establish that any auditory hallucinations had any causal relationship with this crime nor was there any evidence of delusional thinking. Thus, the influence of his mental disturbance was significant but not predominant. Likewise, Lawrence's capacity to appreciate the criminality of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law was substantially impaired, but this impairment was not a predominant factor. Despite the presence of both mental mitigators, there is not a predominant causal connection or relationship between Lawrence's mental or emotional disturbances and this senseless murder. Lawrence faced these mental issues on a daily basis for years. Despite his mental disturbance, Lawrence was somewhat self-sufficient and capable of loving those he chose to love. Though significantly impaired, he had the ability to appreciate the criminality of his conduct and to conform his conduct to these requirements of law.

Sentencing order at 9-10, 12-13 (some alterations in original) (footnote omitted).

Lawrence appeals the trial court's sentence of death, raising seven issues.9

ISSUE 1. FAILURE TO ORDER A COMPETENCY HEARING

Lawrence claims that the trial court erred by failing to appoint mental health experts and order an evidentiary competency hearing during the trial. While a State witness was explaining photographs depicting the discovery of Robinson's body, Lawrence's attorney informed the trial court that Lawrence reported having hallucinations and flashbacks. After a break, Lawrence's counsel indicated that Lawrence was prepared to proceed, and the penalty phase resumed. Subsequently, during the playing of one of Lawrence's recorded statements, Lawrence's counsel

846 So.2d 447
again informed the trial court that Lawrence indicated he was experiencing hallucinations. The trial court took a break, engaged in a colloquy with Lawrence, and allowed Lawrence to leave the courtroom while his recorded statements were played. No competency hearing was requested. Lawrence asserts in this appeal that the trial court was constitutionally required to order an evidentiary hearing.

Decisions regarding competency, including whether a defendant need be given a competency hearing after previously being declared competent to proceed, are within the sound discretion of the trial court. See Bryant v. State, 785 So.2d 422, 427 (Fla.2001); Hunter v. State, 660 So.2d 244, 248 (Fla.1995) ("Once a defendant is declared competent ... only if bona...

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50 cases
  • State v. Capano, Def. ID# 9711006198 (R-1) (DE 3/9/2005), Def. ID# 9711006198 (R-1).
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    • United States State Supreme Court of Delaware
    • March 9, 2005
    ...2002), cert. den., 539 U.S. 947 (2003); Kormondy v. State, 845 So.2d 41 (Fla. 2003), cert. den., 540 U.S. 950 (2003); Lawrence v. State, 846 So.2d 440 (Fla. 2003), cert. den., 540 U.S. 952 (2003); Duest v. State, 855 So.2d 33 (Fla. 2003), cert. den., ___ U.S. ___, 124 S.Ct. 2023 Two other F......
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    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Northern District of Florida
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    ...2008), as revised on denial of reh'g, (Sept. 25, 2008) and cert. denied, 129 S. Ct. 1360, 173 L. Ed. 2d 621 (2009); Lawrence v. State, 846 So. 2d 440, 452 (Fla. 2003); Rodriguez v. State, 753 So. 2d 29 (Fla. 2000); Edwards-Freeman v. State, 93 So. 3d 497 (Fla. 4th DCA 2012) (in order to &qu......
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