Rogers v. State, No. SC18-150

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Florida
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM.
Citation285 So.3d 872
Decision Date05 September 2019
Docket NumberNo. SC18-150
Parties Shawn ROGERS, Appellant, v. STATE of Florida, Appellee.

285 So.3d 872

Shawn ROGERS, Appellant,
v.
STATE of Florida, Appellee.

No. SC18-150

Supreme Court of Florida.

September 5, 2019


Andy Thomas, Public Defender, and Richard M. Bracey, III, Assistant Public Defender, Second Judicial Circuit, Tallahassee, Florida, for Appellant

Ashley B. Moody, Attorney General, and Jennifer A. Donahue, Assistant Attorney General, Tallahassee, Florida, for Appellee

PER CURIAM.

Shawn Rogers appeals his conviction and death sentence for the first-degree murder of Ricky Dean Martin. We have jurisdiction. See art. V, § 3(b)(1), Fla. Const. For the reasons we explain, we affirm the conviction and sentence.

I. BACKGROUND

On March 30, 2012, Shawn Rogers was an inmate at the Santa Rosa Correctional Institution, serving a life sentence for a 2002 conviction for robbery with a firearm and a concurrent fifteen-year sentence for aggravated battery with a firearm arising out of the same incident. That afternoon, Rogers was moved into cell D1-117, where he would become cellmates with another inmate, Ricky Dean Martin. Prior to the move, both Rogers and Martin were asked if they had a problem with the move, and they both indicated that they did not. At 7 p.m. that evening, a routine security check was conducted by corrections staff. Officer Beaudry conducted the check of cell D1-117. At that time, Beaudry saw both Rogers and Martin, Rogers asked Beaudry for the time, and neither inmate indicated that he was having a problem with the other.

At approximately 7:10 p.m., Officer Givens noticed that many inmates on the wing were being loud and carrying on more than normal. Givens began to walk around to try to determine which inmates were making noise. When Givens arrived at cell D1-117, Rogers was standing at the door and said to Givens, "Hey man. He's cutting himself. Y'all need to get in here and stop him." Rogers was referring to Martin and complaining that Martin was harming himself. Through the window in the cell door, Givens observed Martin lying on the ground with a prayer rug covering his head and most of his body down to his waist. Martin appeared to be lying on his back with his hands behind his back, his elbows slightly protruding from under the rug, and oriented with his feet closest to the door. Givens directed Martin to show his hands and stop cutting himself, but Martin did not respond. Givens could see blood on the floor around Martin and on the walls beside him.

Based on his training and in an attempt to stop Martin from cutting himself, Givens deployed pepper spray at Martin's exposed elbow through the handcuffing portal in the cell door. In reaction to the spray, Martin rolled onto his side, and

285 So.3d 878

Givens could see then that his hands were tied behind his back with white strips of cloth, which were made from a torn bedsheet. Givens then called for assistance, and Rogers, who was cooperative and appeared to be uninjured, was removed from the cell and secured in a shower area, where another inmate observed him drop a small object into the shower drain.

Once officers entered cell D1-117 and removed the prayer rug from Martin, they observed Martin with a string tied around his neck, hands tied behind his back, feet tied together, pants pulled down, and a pair of boxers over his head. There were bloody handprints on one of the cell walls near his body. Once the boxers were removed from Martin's head, it became apparent that he had severe facial injuries. Martin was unresponsive, and his breathing was becoming increasingly labored, so he was transported to the prison's on-site emergency room.

At the on-site emergency room, Martin had a seizure, and a registered nurse determined that he appeared to have severe brain damage. Martin was gurgling blood in his mouth and was turned on his side to have the blood suctioned out of his mouth. When Martin was turned on his side, matter or bodily fluids came out of his ear, and the nurse observed that part of one ear was missing. Because of the severity of his injuries, Martin was transported from the prison to a local hospital for further treatment.

Martin was admitted to the hospital with extensive head injuries, diagnosed with an intracranial hemorrhage, and given a poor prognosis. Martin had no neurological response and was placed on a ventilator due to respiratory failure. Over the next few days, Martin's respiratory condition continued to deteriorate, and he developed pneumonia. Nine days after the attack, Martin was declared brain dead and taken off life support. He was pronounced dead at 11:36 a.m. on April 8, 2012.

Rogers was subsequently charged in Martin's death with first-degree murder and kidnapping to terrorize or inflict bodily harm. The State provided notice that it intended to seek the death penalty. Rogers demanded a speedy trial and elected to represent himself throughout the guilt phase and for a portion of the penalty phase before electing to be represented by counsel instead.

During the guilt phase, the medical examiner, Dr. Minyard, testified that an autopsy revealed the cause of Martin's death to be blunt impact to his head and the manner of death to be homicide. Martin had several external injuries to his face and scalp, caused by blunt force trauma, and wounds made by a sharp weapon on his chest and left upper extremity. Martin's brain was severely injured, with subdural hemorrhaging apparent. Dr. Minyard opined that it was possible that Martin's injuries could have been sustained in less than five minutes.

Rogers chose to testify during the guilt phase and gave his version of the events surrounding the murder. Rogers claimed that when he was transferred into Martin's cell, it was filthy. Rogers started cleaning the cell and "talking shit" to Martin, calling him "a dirty-ass cracker" and "filthy motherfucker," and "cussing him out" "real aggressively." Rogers finished cleaning and got on the top bunk to listen to the radio. When Rogers looked down, he noticed that Martin was cutting himself with some type of razor or sharp, metal object. Rogers believed that Martin felt he needed to get moved out of the cell away from Rogers and was likely cutting in an attempt to get transferred to the medical wing. Rogers jumped down from the top bunk and said to Martin, "What the fuck's wrong with you, man? You're acting like a

285 So.3d 879

little bitch." Rogers told Martin that if he did not stop cutting himself, Rogers was going to put his foot in Martin's ass. Martin kept saying, "Oh, I got to get up out of here." At that time, Rogers put a shirt over the window in the cell door. According to Rogers, this is done when inmates want to fight without getting in trouble. Martin then started yelling and making a lot of noise. Rogers threw a combination of three or four punches at Martin, and when Martin fell down, Rogers started kicking him in the face. Rogers stomped Martin's head into the concrete six or seven times. Martin was screaming and yelling like he was in pain during the attack. Rogers said that Martin kept trying to get up and that is how the bloody handprints got on the cell wall. When Martin tried to get up, Rogers knocked him back down and continued to kick him. Rogers described a portion of the attack as follows:

I kicked him in the face and said, [t]his is for Trayvon Martin, motherfucker. I kicked him in the face again and said, [t]his is for Trayvon Martin, motherfucker. I kicked him a third time and said, [t]his is for Trayvon Martin, you pussy-ass fuck boy. I kicked him in the face a fourth time and said, [t]his is for Martin Luther King. I kicked him in the face a fifth time and said, [t]his is for Emmett Till and all the other black people you crackers done killed.

Rogers said Martin never came at Rogers or had a chance to try to throw a punch at him. Martin was just sitting there when Rogers started beating him and he was helpless to every blow and punch and kick that Rogers delivered. When Rogers realized that Martin was not going to stop trying to get up, he tore up a bedsheet and used the strips of cloth to tie Martin up. Rogers also put cloth in Martin's mouth and "tied his mouth up so he couldn't scream no more." When asked if Martin was still moving and trying to get up while Rogers was tearing the bedsheets, Rogers responded, "Yea. Like – I don't know. I guess like – kind of like when you step on a roach, man. They still be alive, but they still be moving." Rogers described the end of the attack:

By then, he was beat up bad and breathing hard, and I asked all the brothers on the wing, Who wants me to kill this pussy-ass cracker? A lot of them said, Yeah. But my lil' homie Y.O., Steve Young, said, Big Brother, don't kill that cracker just put him on the door. I said, Bro, God going to bless you, Y.O., because I was going to kill this fuck boy on the strength -- I said, Blue Flame Midnight Crip Gang.

Then Mr. Martin's gang brothers started cussing me out and threatening me about what they going to do. Now, I never raped Mr. Martin or slapped him on his ass, but I pretended I did and made the slapping sounds to make his brother -- his gang brothers mad.[1 ] And I covered him up with a prayer rug and pulled his pants down to make his gang brothers think that it was real.

Rogers went on to tell the jury:

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, if you're asking
...

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37 practice notes
  • State v. Poole, No. SC18-245
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • 23 Enero 2020
    ...not subject to the beyond a reasonable doubt standard of proof, and the trial court did not err in instructing the jury.Rogers v. State, 285 So.3d 872, 886 (Fla. Sept. 5, Last, lest there be any doubt, we hold that our state constitution's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment, articl......
  • Lawrence v. State, No. SC18-2061
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • 29 Octubre 2020
    ...comparative proportionality of every death sentence to "ensure uniformity of sentencing in death penalty proceedings," Rogers v. State , 285 So. 3d 872, 891 (Fla. 2019), by reserving the death penalty "for only the most aggravated and least mitigated of first-degree murders." Id. at 892 (qu......
  • State v. Poole, No. SC18-245
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • 23 Enero 2020
    ...subject to the beyond a reasonable doubt standard of proof, and the trial court did not err in instructing the jury. Rogers v. State , 285 So.3d 872, 886(Fla. 2019). Last, lest there be any doubt, we hold that our state constitution's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment, article I, ......
  • Bright v. State, No. SC17-2244
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • 2 Abril 2020
    ...that the additional Hurst v. State findings are elements." State v. Poole , 292 So.3d 694 (Fla. Jan. 23, 2020). In Rogers v. State , 285 So. 3d 872, 885-86 (Fla. 2019), we clarified:To the extent that in Perry v. State , 210 So. 3d 630, 633 (Fla. 2016), we suggested that Hurst v. State held......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
37 cases
  • State v. Poole, No. SC18-245
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • 23 Enero 2020
    ...not subject to the beyond a reasonable doubt standard of proof, and the trial court did not err in instructing the jury.Rogers v. State, 285 So.3d 872, 886 (Fla. Sept. 5, Last, lest there be any doubt, we hold that our state constitution's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment, articl......
  • Lawrence v. State, No. SC18-2061
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • 29 Octubre 2020
    ...comparative proportionality of every death sentence to "ensure uniformity of sentencing in death penalty proceedings," Rogers v. State , 285 So. 3d 872, 891 (Fla. 2019), by reserving the death penalty "for only the most aggravated and least mitigated of first-degree murders." Id. at 892 (qu......
  • State v. Poole, No. SC18-245
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • 23 Enero 2020
    ...subject to the beyond a reasonable doubt standard of proof, and the trial court did not err in instructing the jury. Rogers v. State , 285 So.3d 872, 886(Fla. 2019). Last, lest there be any doubt, we hold that our state constitution's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment, article I, ......
  • Bright v. State, No. SC17-2244
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • 2 Abril 2020
    ...that the additional Hurst v. State findings are elements." State v. Poole , 292 So.3d 694 (Fla. Jan. 23, 2020). In Rogers v. State , 285 So. 3d 872, 885-86 (Fla. 2019), we clarified:To the extent that in Perry v. State , 210 So. 3d 630, 633 (Fla. 2016), we suggested that Hurst v. State held......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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