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State Supreme Court Rejects Stay Of November Execution

Oct 18, 2017
Originally published on October 18, 2017 8:29 am

With no explanation, the Florida Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected a request to stay the scheduled Nov. 8 execution of Patrick C. Hannon, who was sentenced to death in the 1991 murders of two men in Hillsborough County.

The court issued a unanimous ruling, with Justice Peggy Quince recused, to deny a motion for a stay filed last week by Hannon's attorneys.

The motion was rooted in a 2016 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found Florida's death-penalty sentencing system was unconstitutional because it gave too much authority to judges, instead of juries.

A subsequent Florida Supreme Court ruling said juries must unanimously agree on critical findings before judges can impose death sentences and must unanimously recommend the death penalty. The Florida Supreme Court applied those standards to death sentences dating back to 2002. But Hannon's attorneys argued that the standards should be applied to earlier cases.

While a jury unanimously recommended that Hannon receive the death penalty, his attorneys contended there was no evidence that the jury was unanimous on the findings of fact.

“The jury did not find unanimously and expressly all the aggravating factors were proven beyond a reasonable doubt, unanimously find that the aggravators were sufficient to impose death, unanimously find that the aggravators outweighed the mitigators,” Hannon's attorneys said in a document filed last week.

Hannon was sentenced to death in the murders of Brandon Snider and Robert Carter. Hannon and two other men went to the apartment where Snider and Carter lived on Jan. 10, 1991. After one of the other men attacked and stabbed Snider, Hannon was accused of cutting Snider's throat, according to a court document. Hannon was then accused of fatally shooting Carter, who had tried to hide under a bed.

Gov. Rick Scott signed a death warrant Oct. 6 and scheduled Hannon's execution for Nov. 8.