Wuornos v. State, No. 79484

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Florida
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM; GRIMES, C.J., OVERTON, SHAW and HARDING, JJ., and McDONALD; KOGAN; KOGAN
Citation644 So.2d 1000
Parties19 Fla. L. Weekly S455 Aileen Carol WUORNOS, Appellant, v. STATE of Florida, Appellee.
Decision Date22 September 1994
Docket NumberNo. 79484

Page 1000

644 So.2d 1000
19 Fla. L. Weekly S455
Aileen Carol WUORNOS, Appellant,
v.
STATE of Florida, Appellee.
No. 79484.
Supreme Court of Florida.
Sept. 22, 1994.
Rehearing Denied Nov. 16, 1994.

Page 1002

James B. Gibson, Public Defender and Christopher S. Quarles, Asst. Public Defender, Daytona Beach, for appellant.

Page 1003

Robert A. Butterworth, Atty. Gen. and Margene A. Roper, Asst. Atty. Gen., Daytona Beach, for appellee.

PER CURIAM.

We have on appeal the judgment and sentence of the trial court imposing the death penalty upon Aileen Carol Wuornos. We have jurisdiction. Art. V, Sec. 3(b)(1), Fla. Const.

On December 1, 1989, a deputy in Volusia County discovered an abandoned vehicle belonging to Richard Mallory. His body was found December 13, several miles away in a wooded area. Mallory had been shot several times, but two bullets to the left lung were found to have caused hemorrhaging and ultimately death. The medical examiner also determined that Mallory had been drinking at the time of his death, though it was not clear whether he was legally intoxicated.

Tyria Moore and Aileen Wuornos lived together as lovers for about four and a half years. Moore worked as a maid, while Wuornos worked as a prostitute along Central Florida highways. Wuornos drank substantial amounts of alcoholic drink while working as a prostitute and at other times, and she also carried a gun for protection.

On December 1, 1989, after several days working along the roadways, Wuornos returned to a Volusia County motel where she and Moore were living. Wuornos was intoxicated and told Moore that she had shot and killed a man early that morning. She said she sorted through the man's things, keeping some, discarding others. Wuornos said she abandoned the man's car near Ormond Beach, and left his body in a wooded area.

Several months later, Moore began seeing media reports that law officers were looking for two women suspected of being involved in a series of murders. Moore became afraid, left Wuornos, and returned to her home up north. Florida law officers later contacted her in Pennsylvania, and Moore agreed to return to Florida in an attempt to clear herself of any wrongdoing. Moore then tried to extract a confession from Wuornos, ultimately succeeding.

Wuornos gave taped confessions to a Volusia sheriff's investigator. When she first indicated she wanted to talk to law officers, she also expressed a desire to speak with an attorney. A lawyer from the public defender's office was summoned, who strongly advised Wuornos against confessing both before and during her comments to law officers. She stated that she did not want to follow her attorney's advice and then made her confession.

The different statements Wuornos made, however, are inconsistent with each other on major points. In the earliest confession to law officers, Wuornos said that Mallory picked her up while she was hitchhiking, and they later went into a secluded wooded area to engage in an act of prostitution. She and Mallory then began disagreeing because he wanted to have sex after only unzipping his pants. Wuornos said she felt Mallory was going to "roll her" (take her money) and rape her. At this point, she grabbed a bag in which she kept a gun, and the two began struggling over possession of the bag.

Wuornos said she prevailed, pointed the gun at Mallory, and said: "You son of a bitch, I knew you were going to rape me."

Wuornos said that Mallory responded: "No, I wasn't. No, I wasn't."

At this point, Wuornos told law officers she shot Mallory at least once while he still was sitting behind the steering wheel. Mallory then crawled out the driver's side and shut the car door. At some point he was able to stand again. Wuornos said she ran around to the front of the car and shot Mallory again, which caused him to fall to the ground. While he was lying there, Wuornos said she shot him twice more, then went through his pockets, and finally concealed the body beneath a scrap of rug. Later, she drove off in the victim's car.

Wuornos also told law officers she had given Moore inconsistent stories about what had happened. In one version, Wuornos stated she told Moore that she had found a dead body hidden under a scrap of rug in the woods. In another, she confessed to the killing.

Page 1004

Wuornos' confession changed considerably in later versions. Wuornos later said she had offered to perform an act of prostitution with Mallory and that he then drove to an isolated area. There, the two drank, smoked marijuana, and talked for about five hours. Wuornos described herself as "drunk royal."

Around 5 a.m., Wuornos disrobed to perform the act of prostitution. She asked Mallory to remove his clothes, but he said he only wanted to unzip his pants and didn't have enough money to pay her fee. Wuornos said she then went to retrieve her clothes, but Mallory whipped a cord around her neck and threatened to kill her "like the other sluts I've done." He then tied her hands to the steering wheel, Wuornos said.

According to Wuornos's later version of the case, Mallory violently raped her vaginally and anally, and took pleasure from Wuornos' cries of pain. Afterward, she said that Mallory cleaned blood from his penis with rubbing alcohol, then squirted alcohol onto her torn and bloody rectum and vagina.

Wuornos said Mallory eventually untied her and told her to lie down. Believing he intended to kill her, Wuornos said she began to struggle. Mallory, she said, told her, "You're dead, bitch. You're dead." At this juncture, Wuornos said she found her purse and removed her gun. Mallory grabbed her hand, and the two began fighting for the gun's possession. Wuornos won the fight, then shot Mallory. Wuornos said Mallory kept coming at her despite her warnings, so she shot him two more times.

Wuornos also confessed that she took some of Mallory's property and pawned it. Some of his property later was found in a rented warehouse unit used by Wuornos. More than a year later, she took the murder weapon and threw it into Rose Bay south of the motel where she was staying at the time. Moore later showed law officers where to find the gun. Grooves in the gun were similar to markings found on the fatal bullets, though an expert testified that the particular grooves were fairly common and could be found in other weapons.

Wuornos said that she had begun her career as a prostitute at age 16. At about age 20, she settled in Florida, and began working as a highway prostitute at least four days of the week. Her job was dangerous, she said. On some occasions she had been maced, beaten, and raped by customers.

At trial, the State was allowed to introduce similar crimes evidence about Wuornos' alleged involvement in several other murders. These were:

Humphreys. On September 12, 1990, officers in Marion County found the body of Charles Richard Humphreys. The body was fully clothed, and had been shot six times in the head and torso. Humphreys' car was found in Suwannee County.

Siems. In June 1990, Peter Siems left Jupiter, Florida, heading for New Jersey. Law officers later found Siems' car in Orange Springs on July 4, 1990. Witnesses identified Tyria Moore and Aileen Wuornos as the two persons seen leaving the car where it ultimately was found. A palm print on the interior door handle matched that of Wuornos. Siems' body has never been found.

Antonio. On November 19, 1990, the body of Walter Jeno Antonio was found near a remote logging road in Dixie County. His body was nearly nude, and had been shot four times in the back and head. Law officers found Antonio's car five days later in Brevard County.

Burress. On August 4, 1990, law officers found the body of Troy Burress in a wooded area along State Road 19 in Marion County. The body was substantially decomposed, but evidence showed it had been shot twice.

Spears. On June 1, 1990, officers discovered the body of David Spears in a remote area in Southwest Citrus County. Except for a baseball cap, Spears was nude. He had died of six bullet wounds to the torso.

Carskaddon. On June 6, 1990, officers discovered the body of Charles Carskaddon in Pasco County. The medical examiner found nine small caliber bullets in his lower chest and upper abdomen.

For the five bodies that were recovered, the bullets all bore similar characteristics. As noted above, the grooving pattern was

Page 1005

fairly common and could have come from weapons other than the one Wuornos used.

A variety of items that once belonged to Mallory were traced to Wuornos. A camera from Mallory's automobile was found inside the rented warehouse unit, which was opened with a key taken from Wuornos' possession. Wuornos had rented the unit under an alias. Other items from Mallory's car had been pawned or given away to others by Wuornos.

The trial jury found Wuornos guilty of first-degree murder and armed robbery with a firearm.

Her penalty phase commenced January 28, 1992. Three defense psychologists concluded that Wuornos suffered borderline personality disorder at the time of her crime, resulting in extreme mental or emotional disturbance. The psychologists said her ability to conform her conduct to the requirements of the law was substantially impaired, and that Wuornos exhibited evidence of brain damage.

One expert, Dr. Krop, testified that Wuornos lacked impulse control and had impaired cognition. Dr. Toomer said that Wuornos believed she was in imminent danger at the time of the murder, and that the remorse she exhibited revealed she did not suffer antisocial personality disorder.

The State's expert psychologist, Dr. Bernard, agreed that Wuornos had borderline personality disorder, but also found that she suffered antisocial personality disorder. Dr. Bernard also agreed that she had an impaired capacity and mental disturbance at the time of the crime, but believed the impairment was not substantial and the disturbance was not extreme. Dr. Bernard agreed there was...

To continue reading

Request your trial
64 practice notes
  • Gonzalez v. State, No. SC11–475.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • April 10, 2014
    ...given retrospective application by the courts of this state in every case pending on direct review or not yet final.”); Wuornos v. State, 644 So.2d 1000, 1007 n. 4 (Fla.1994) (“We read Smith to mean that new points of law established by this Court shall be deemed retrospective with respect ......
  • Gosciminski v. State, No. SC09–2234.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • January 28, 2014
    ...allow the expert to render an opinion, and it is then up to the jury to determine the credibility of that opinion. Id.;Wuornos v. State, 644 So.2d 1000, 1010 (Fla.1994) (“[T]he finder of fact is not necessarily required to accept [expert] testimony.”). The second step, concerning whether to......
  • Windom v. State, No. SC01-2706
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • May 6, 2004
    ...application by the courts of this state in every case pending on direct review or not yet final"), limited by Wuornos v. State, 644 So.2d 1000, 1007 n. 4 (Fla.1994) (reading Smith"to mean that new points of law established by this Court shall be deemed retrospective with respect to all non-......
  • Hughes v. State, No. SC02-2247.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • April 28, 2005
    ...application by the courts of this state in every case pending on direct review or not yet final"), limited by Wuornos v. State, 644 So.2d 1000, 1007 n. 4 (Fla.1994) (reading Smith "to mean that new points of law established by this Court shall be deemed retrospective with respect to all non......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
64 cases
  • Gonzalez v. State, No. SC11–475.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • April 10, 2014
    ...given retrospective application by the courts of this state in every case pending on direct review or not yet final.”); Wuornos v. State, 644 So.2d 1000, 1007 n. 4 (Fla.1994) (“We read Smith to mean that new points of law established by this Court shall be deemed retrospective with respect ......
  • Gosciminski v. State, No. SC09–2234.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • January 28, 2014
    ...allow the expert to render an opinion, and it is then up to the jury to determine the credibility of that opinion. Id.;Wuornos v. State, 644 So.2d 1000, 1010 (Fla.1994) (“[T]he finder of fact is not necessarily required to accept [expert] testimony.”). The second step, concerning whether to......
  • Windom v. State, No. SC01-2706
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • May 6, 2004
    ...application by the courts of this state in every case pending on direct review or not yet final"), limited by Wuornos v. State, 644 So.2d 1000, 1007 n. 4 (Fla.1994) (reading Smith"to mean that new points of law established by this Court shall be deemed retrospective with respect to all non-......
  • Hughes v. State, No. SC02-2247.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • April 28, 2005
    ...application by the courts of this state in every case pending on direct review or not yet final"), limited by Wuornos v. State, 644 So.2d 1000, 1007 n. 4 (Fla.1994) (reading Smith "to mean that new points of law established by this Court shall be deemed retrospective with respect to all non......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT