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  1. #1

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    Freddie Lee Hall - Florida Death Row


    Sheriff's Deputy Lonnie Coburn




    Facts of the Crime:

    On February 21, 1978, Karol Hurst, who was twenty-one years old and seven months pregnant at the time, was leaving the Pantry Pride grocery store in Leesburg, Florida at approximately 3:00 p.m., when Hall approached her. Hall and an accomplice, Mack Ruffin, were looking for a car to use in a robbery, when Hall approached Hurst and forced her into their car. Hall drove the car away, with Hurst and Ruffin following in another car. Hurst was driven to a wooded area, beaten, raped, and shot, then the body was dragged further into the woods.

    On the evening of February 21, 1978, Hall and Ruffin walked into a convenience store in Hernando County, Florida. The conduct of the pair aroused the suspicions of the store clerk, who called the sheriff substation located across the street from the store. Deputy Lonnie Coburn responded to the call and met Hall and Ruffin in the store’s parking lot, where witnesses saw Deputy Coburn approach Hall and Ruffin. Although conflicting evidence existed, at some point in the confrontation between Hall, Ruffin, and Deputy Coburn, Deputy Coburn was disarmed and shot and killed with his own gun. Hall and Ruffin fled the scene.

    The pair were spotted and pursued by another deputy, during which gunfire was exchanged between the pair and the deputy. Eventually, Hall and Ruffin abandoned their car and were later apprehended. Deputy Coburn’s gun was found in the abandoned car. Hall and Ruffin were both present and principals in the murder of Deputy Coburn and the assault and murder of Hurst.
    Both Hall and Ruffin aided and abetted each other in the commission of the crimes.

    Hall was re-sentenced to death in Putnam County on February 21, 1991.

    Co-defendant information:
    Ruffin and Hall were tried separately murder of Hurst. Ruffin was convicted and was originally sentenced to death; however, he was later resentenced to life imprisonment. Ruffin and Hall were tried together for the murder of Deputy Coburn. Ruffin was sentenced to life imprisonment.

  2. #2
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    Factors Contributing to the Delay in Imposition of Sentence:

    The delay in the execution of the sentence in this case appears to be the result of the multiple appeals filed by Hall and the subsequent hearings that have resulted. Hall has been sentenced twice for the crime and has had appeals at all levels of the court system, both state and federal. One of the most obvious delays is in the extended period of time that elapsed between the U.S. Supreme Court’s denial of Certiorari on 10/04/93 and the filing of a 3.850 motion on 02/14/97.

    Case Information:

    Hall filed a Direct Appeal with the Florida Supreme Court on 07/06/78, challenging his conviction for First-Degree Murder and the resulting death sentence. Hall raised a number of issues on appeal: the state failed to prove its case in the trial, inflammatory remarks by the prosecutor and commenting on Hall’s refusal to testify, and collateral crime evidence admitted in the trial. The FSC affirmed the conviction and sentence of death on 07/16/81.

    A death warrant for Hall was signed by the Governor on 09/09/82, and the execution was set for 10/06/82.

    Hall filed a 3.850 Motion with the Circuit Court on 09/28/82, which was denied on 10/01/82.

    A 3.850 Motion Appeal, Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus and a Stay of Execution were filed with the Florida Supreme Court on 10/02/82. Hall cited the following issues in the appeal: the court improperly denied the motion to vacate, ineffective assistance of counsel, Hall was not present at some stages of the jury selection, and sentencing errors. The FSC affirmed the denial of the 3.850 Motion, denied the Petition for Habeas relief and the Stay of Execution on 10/05/82.

    A Stay of Execution was issued by the U.S. District Court, Middle District, on 10/05/82 and expired on 06/03/83.

    Hall filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus with the U.S. District Court, Middle District on 9/30/82 that was denied on 05/18/83.

    On appeal, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision of the USDC. The case was remanded for an evidentiary hearing on 05/16/84.

    The State filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court on 01/29/85 that was denied on 05/13/85.

    Hall filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court on 02/28/85 that was denied on 05/13/85.

    On 01/08/86, the USDC denied relief, and the USCA affirmed this decision on 11/17/86.

    Hall filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court on 07/06/87 that was denied on 10/13/87.

    Hall filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus with the Florida Supreme Court on 10/14/87, arguing that the court did not consider non-statutory mitigating circumstances in the sentencing phase of the trial. Prior to this appeal, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Hitchcock v. Dugger (1987) that courts must consider non-statutory, as well as statutory mitigating circumstances, in the sentencing phases of capital trials. The FSC denied the Petition on 05/12/88.

    On 08/11/88, a second death warrant was signed by the Governor, scheduling the execution for 09/20/88.

    Hall filed a 3.850 Motion with the Circuit Court on 08/23/88, which was denied on 09/09/88.

    Hall filed a 3.850 Appeal with the Florida Supreme Court on 09/12/88, citing that the court erred in not weighing non-statutory mitigating circumstances in the sentencing phase of the trial. Previously, the FSC denied a Habeas Petition that argued those exact points, yet the FSC decided to address these points in the present 3.850 Motion Appeal, instead of the Habeas Petition. During the deliberation in this appeal, the FSC issued a Stay of Execution on 09/14/88. On 03/09/89, the FSC vacated Hall’s death sentence and remanded it for resentencing with a new jury. In addition to this ruling, the court ordered that all future Hitchcock claims be raised in 3.850 motions, not Habeas petitions.

    Hall filed a pro se Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus with the Florida Supreme Court on 01/23/91 that was denied, without comment, by the FSC on 02/26/91.

    Hall was resentenced to death on 02/21/91. The jury recommended a death sentence by a vote of 8-4.

    Hall filed a Direct Appeal with the Florida Supreme Court on 03/08/91, citing numerous issues: juror selection bias; exclusion of sympathetic juror instructions; exclusion of co-defendant’s conviction; exclusion of sympathetic witness testimony; improper consideration of jury recommendation by the judge; the re-sentencing court improperly found additional aggravating factors; the state did not prove two aggravating factors – avoid or prevent arrest and cold, calculated, and premeditated murder; unconstitutional vagueness of the heinous, atrocious, or cruel aggravating factor; findings of mitigating evidence; and death sentence not proportionate with his codefendant’s sentence. The FSC affirmed the resentence on 01/14/93.

    Hall filed a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court on 05/17/93 that was denied on 10/04/93.

    Hall filed a 3.850 Motion with the Circuit Court on 02/14/97, which was denied on 10/30/97.

    Hall filed a 3.850 Motion Appeal with the Florida Supreme Court on 12/15/97, citing five issues: the unconstitutionality of Florida’s capital sentencing statute in that it allows for the execution of a mentally retarded inmate, Hall is not competent to be resentenced, electrocution is cruel and unusual punishment, trial court’s summary denial of all but one of Hall’s thirty-three claims violated due process guarantees, and fundamental error that aggravators outweighed mitigating circumstances in the resentencing. The FSC affirmed the lower court’s denial of the 3.850 Motion on 07/01/99.

    Hall filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus with the Florida Supreme Court on 08/02/00, citing ineffective assistance of trial counsel. The FSC denied the Petition on 05/10/01.

    Hall filed a federal Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus with the U.S. District Court, Middle District on 08/07/00. On 01/29/01, the USDC administratively closed the case pending resolution of the state-level Habeas Petition. On 07/26/01, the USDC administratively reopened the case, which is currently pending before the court. On 03/20/03, the USDC stayed proceedings in the case pending the resolution of the 3.850 Motion. On 07/12/04, the USDC administratively closed the case pending resolution of state-level proceedings.

    Hall filed a 3.850 Motion in the Circuit Court on 08/10/01, citing mental retardation issues. The motion was denied on 05/13/08.

    Hall filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court on 10/12/01 that was denied on 02/19/02.

    Hall filed a 3.851 Motion with the Circuit Court on 11/30/04, citing claims of mental retardation. The motion was denied on 06/24/08.

    Hall filed a 3.851 Appeal with the Florida Supreme Court on 07/24/08. The motion was denied on 09/15/08.

    Hall filed a 3.851 Appeal with the Florida Supreme Court on 07/09/10. This motion is still pending.

  3. #3
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  4. #4
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    FREDDIE LEE HALL vs. THE STATE OF FLORIDA

    In today's opinions, the Florida Supreme Court AFFIRMED an order denying a motion to vacate a sentence of death under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.203, concerning Hall's Atkins claim.

    Defendant was originally convicted in 1981 for murder and sentenced to death. After a series of appeals and postconviction motions, Defendant filed a successive motion to vacate his sentence. Specifically, Defendant asserted that he was mentally retarded pursuant to Atkins v. Virginia. The trial court held an evidentiary hearing on Defendant's motion in 2009. The court denied relief, determining that Defendant could not meet the first prong of the mental retardation standard to establish his mental retardation. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was competent, substantial evidence to support the court's finding that Defendant was not mentally retarded.
    A uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

  5. #5
    About time. This guy is amongst one of the longest old timers on Floridas Death Row. Been serving time since 1968. Time for him to move into the federal appeals now and let's hope it moves along fairly quickly

  6. #6
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    Mental disability an issue in Fla. death penalty

    The Florida Supreme Court will be asked to take another look at how to determine if a death row inmate is mentally disabled.

    The issue divided the high court in a 4-2 opinion upholding a death sentence for Freddie Lee Hall for murdering a 21-year-old, pregnant Leesburg woman in 1978.

    Defense lawyer Eric Pinkard said Friday that he will ask for a rehearing and if that fails may take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

    The federal high court has prohibited the execution of mentally disabled inmates as being unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment.

    But it has allowed states to determine what constitutes mental disability.

    The majority of Florida justices ruled they must follow a law saying anyone with an IQ of 70 or higher cannot be disabled.

    Read more: http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/art...#ixzz2FiD2ZHiF
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  7. #7
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    This was up for conference today. If they don't take Hall's petition, it will be interesting to see how Gov Scott handles this in clemency proceedings.

  8. #8
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    In today's United States Supreme Court orders, Hall's petition for writ of certiorari was GRANTED.
    A uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

  9. #9
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    Article

    High Court to Look at Death Row Inmate With Low IQ

    The Supreme Court will take up a Florida case over how judges should determine if a death row inmate is mentally disabled, and thus ineligible for execution.

    The justices said Monday they will review a Florida Supreme Court ruling that upheld the death sentence for a man who scored just above the state's cutoff for mental disability as measured by IQ tests.

    Freddie Lee Hall was sentenced to death for killing Karol Hurst, a 21-year-old, pregnant woman who was abducted leaving a grocery store in 1978.

    Florida law prohibits anyone with an IQ of 70 or higher from being classified as mentally disabled. Hall's scores on three IQ tests ranged from 71 to 80.

    In 2002, the Supreme Court banned the execution of mentally disabled inmates.

    http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireS...ow-iq-20633421
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  10. #10
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    Hall's 35 years on death row illustrate Florida's flaw

    Bill Stevens, Times Columnist

    Brooksville lawyer Jimmy Brown picked up the paper one day last week and the main story rekindled a nightmare, the cold-blooded murders of Karol Hurst and Hernando County sheriff's Deputy Lonnie Coburn. He thought of their families and the sadness they must feel every time the killer's face shows up, every time attorneys think of another tactic to save him.

    Thirty-five years after the crimes, Florida is still trying to kill Freddie Lee Hall, now 68. Thirty-five years. Germany rebuilt its cities in less time after World War II.

    He's appealed his convictions every way possible, and now his last chance presumably rests with the U.S. Supreme Court, which agreed last week to hear the case. Hall's lawyers have argued for years that he's too mentally challenged to execute. In Florida, that would mean his IQ is below 70, a number Hall's lawyers say the state pulled out of its you-know-what. Hall's IQ test results ranged from 71 to 80.

    Brown was a young shining star in the 5th Judicial Circuit State Attorney's Office in February 1978 when Hall and his accomplice, Mack Ruffin, kidnapped Hurst, 21 and seven months pregnant, from a grocery store parking lot in Leesburg, drove her to a remote area and raped her. She begged for her life, even wrote a $20,000 check before Hall shot her. Ten years earlier, Hall had raped another woman in Sumter County. He gouged her eyes out with his fingers to prevent her from identifying him, but he was still convicted and sent to prison.

    The two men made their way to Ridge Manor, where they intended to rob a convenience store. Deputy Coburn, 25, responded to the suspicious men. He struggled with Hall, who got control of his service revolver and shot him. Law enforcement officers from around the region tracked the two men to a swamp in rural Pasco County and showed amazing restraint not shooting them.

    I was in my first full year with the Times, living in Brooksville. The editor sent me over to the Hernando jail to wait for more information about Coburn. Time has not erased memories of the horror we all felt in that room when a fellow deputy carried in Coburn's clothing and the bulletproof vest he had been wearing.

    Brown knew Coburn well. He attended the autopsy, examined recordings of the deputy's calls for help. He went after Hall and Ruffin with vigor and helped secure convictions and death penalties, all reduced to life in prison except for Hall's murder of Hurst. Ruffin, 21 at the time and considered under the thumb of the older man, assumed his role as a prisoner for life, which is why you never hear about him except in connection with Hall's appeals.

    The notion that Hall is mentally challenged is laughable, Brown said. "He may not take IQ tests well, but he's not stupid. He was, however, completely void of any conscience or moral scruple.''

    Before the first sentencing, the state introduced a psychiatric report that said Hall was good at solving problems, Brown said. "He planned everything. He found a pregnant woman coming out of a grocery store, an easy mark to kidnap. He knew where to park at the convenience store for the best escape route after the robbery. He took Lonnie's gun and knew there was a space between the front and back panels of his protective vest.

    "I watched him through both trials and he was always alert and consulting with his lawyers," Brown said.

    In 1978, Florida was wrestling with how to best implement the death penalty, which had been restored two years earlier. Brown, who would secure 16 death penalty convictions before entering private practice in 1984, recalled Hall's as a "no-brainer.''

    "If anybody deserved death,'' he said, "it was Freddie Lee Hall.''

    That said, the news last week about the latest appeal gave Brown pause. Just as he had been eloquent in his prosecution all those years ago, he articulated the dark reality in a state where 412 prisoners sit on death row. "At the time we prosecuted Freddie Lee Hall, I gave no thought that his case could drag on like this or that there would be so much cost,'' he said. "I still think he deserves death, but we're at the point where we need serious public debate without political rhetoric about doing away with the death penalty.''

    Many other states have come to the same conclusion, focusing more on the practicality and expense, less on the traditional moral arguments. Florida lawmakers should take note.

    http://www.tampabay.com/news/courts/...s-flaw/2149795

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