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Willie James Hodges - Florida
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Thread: Willie James Hodges - Florida

  1. #1
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    Willie James Hodges - Florida


    Patricia Belanger


    Laverne Jansen




    Summary of Offense:

    Willie James Hodges, of Epes, Alabama, was convicted and sentence to death in the murder of Partricia Belanger on December 19, 2001, in her Clio Drive home in the Mayfair neighborhood.The 58-year-old grandmother was beaten on the head with a hammer and stabbed in the neck and throat with a steak knife hours before she was to leave on a Christmas vacation to Idaho with relatives and friends, Molchan said.When Belanger's daughter came to her mother's home to take her to the airport, she saw a man flee from the house and enter a nearby swamp.

    Molchan cited fingerprints, DNA evidence, hair, carpet fibers and other clues that linked Hodges to the killing. Hodges wasn't charged for two years until evidence led investigators to him. By then, he was jailed on an unrelated burglary charge.

    Hodges faces possible charges in two other slayings:
    He's accused of capital murder in the November 26, 2001, death of Winnie Johnson, 66, of Sumter County, Alabama. She was shot to death in November 2001 during a burglary of her home. He's charged with aggravated murder in the March 2003 rape and stabbing death of Laverne Jansen, 81, of Cincinnati. Prosecutors in Alabama and Ohio said they will wait to see the outcome of Hodges' case here before moving forward on other charges.

    Hodges was sentenced to death in Escambia County on February 12, 2009.

  2. #2
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    February 12, 2009

    Serial killer sentenced to death

    "Willie James Hodges you are adjudicated guilty and sentenced to death by lethal injection."

    There was no reaction from Willie Hodges as Judge Terry Terrell sentenced him to die for the 2001 murder of Patricia Belanger.

    "She was really looking forward to spending time with us on the day she was murdered. It was taken from her and we miss her very much." Belanger's daughter, Deborah Taylor and her son, Brooks Clements were in the courtroom when Hodges was sentenced. They've been there through it all, "It's been over seven years since she was murdered, over five years since he was arrested," says Clements. He calls today's sentencing a milestone. "We can try to move on don't know if we can ever say we've got closure or we'll ever get past it but I guess I'm satisfied with the outcome today."

    This case may be over but this isn't the only murder charges Hodges faces. "This is an individual that is now facing murder charges in Cincinnati and Alabama." says Assistant State Attorney John Molchan. "Those cases were part of our investigation and part of the prosecution in this particular case."

    The death sentence carries with it an automatic appeal. An appeal defense attorney Martin Lester says has a good chance of succeeding. "Every IQ test he has ever taken in his life was below 70. There was expert testimony that his IQ fell into the category of mildly retarded."

    It will be up to the Florida Supreme Court to make that decision. For Belanger's family, the healing can begin. "Just as a family we want to kind of move forward and think about good memories rather than constantly looking forward to what's the next criminal proceeding that we have to go through," says Clements.

    Hodges is wanted in the murder of an elderly woman in Gainesville, Alabama just a few weeks before Belanger was killed and he is also wanted in the 2003 murder of an Ohio woman.

    http://www.wkrg.com/crime/article/se...ntenced/23589/

  3. #3
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    The Florida Supreme Court has affirmed Hodges' conviction and death sentence on direct appeal.

    Opinion here

  4. #4
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    Case Information:

    On 03/16/09, Hodges filed a Direct Appeal to the Florida Supreme Court. The following issues were raised: failing to allow the jury to determine if Hodges was mentally retarded, finding that Hodges was not mentally retarded, ruling that the state could discuss the collateral crime evidence during its rebuttal argument, allowing the collateral crime evidence to become a feature of the trial, refusing to allow Hodges to waive a penalty-phase jury, and denying Hodges motion to bar a death sentence based on Ring v. Arizona, 536 U.S. 584 (2002). On 12/06/10, the Florida Supreme Court affirmed the convictions and sentence of the lower court. A motion for rehearing was submitted on 12/06/10. This motion was denied on 02/23/11. The Florida Supreme Court issued a mandate on 03/11/11.

  5. #5
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    In today's United States Supreme Court orders, Hodges' petition for a writ of certiorari and motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis was DENIED.

  6. #6
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    Escambia judge denies death row inmate's motion for post-conviction relief

    A death row inmate who was found guilty of the fatal beating and stabbing of a 58-year-old Pensacola woman has been denied post-conviction relief.

    Willie Hodges, 53, alleged that he was convicted of the 2001 murder of Patricia Belanger because his former defense attorney provided ineffective counsel.

    Circuit Judge Terry Terrell reviewed 12 instances where Hodges claimed he received ineffective counsel during the his trial in 2008. On Friday, Terrell ruled that none of the claims impacted the outcome of the proceedings.

    Investigators said Belanger was beaten with a hammer and stabbed in the neck the night of Dec. 19, 2001.

    Expert witnesses testified during Hodges’ trial that DNA, fingerprints, hairs and other forensic evidence linked Hodges to the killing. An Escambia County jury found Hodges guilty and recommended 10-2 that he receive the death penalty.

    Post-conviction relief is the second stage of the three-part death penalty appeal process in Florida. Hodges has already lost a direct appeal in circuit court, but he can still file an appeal to the Florida Supreme Court.

    He can also file a petition for a U.S. District Court to review the case, which may dismiss the petition, overturn the conviction or overturn his sentence.

    Hodges is also accused of two other slayings in Cincinnati and Sumter County, Ala., which officials say are not likely to be prosecuted if Hodges remains on death row.

    http://www.pnj.com/article/20140403/...viction-relief
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  7. #7
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    Justices Weigh Appeal Of Inmate

    [edit]

    Florida Supreme Court justices are weighing the case of a death row inmate, convicted of fatally stabbing a woman in Escambia County. Willie Hodges, an Alabama man, is also a suspected serial killer.

    http://news.wfsu.org/post/justices-w...tional-officer

  8. #8
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    WILLIE JAMES HODGES v THE STATE OF FLORIDA

    In today's opinions, the Florida Supreme Court AFFIRMED the post-conviction court's order as to Hodge's conviction, but vacated his death sentence and remanded for a new penalty phase.
    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

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    Pensacola death row inmate up for resentencing

    By Kevin Robinson
    The Pensacola News-Journal

    A man sentenced to death for murdering a Pensacola woman with a claw hammer and knife will get a second chance at a life sentence.

    The Florida Supreme Court issued an opinion Thursday affirming the first-degree murder conviction of Willie James Hodges, but granting him a new penalty phase because he was sentenced under Florida's capital punishment scheme that has since been ruled unconstitutional.

    Hodges, 56, was found guilty of the Dec. 19, 2001 murder of Patricia Belanger, a woman who was robbed, bludgeoned and stabbed just minutes before she was set to leave town on a holiday trip. Hodges was tied to the crime through DNA evidence and witnesses who saw him fleeing the scene.

    In his appeal, Hodges argued he was convicted because of ineffective legal representation. The Supreme Court dismissed those claims, but in a 4-3 opinion found Hodges was penalized under faulty Florida law allowing a majority of jurors, as opposed to all jurors, to impose the death penalty.

    The court vacated Hodges' death penalty sentence and remanded the case back to trial court for a new jury to decide if he will receive life in prison or death.

    Florida's death penalty has been in flux since January 2016, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the state's capital punishment system based on another Pensacola murder case, (Timothy) Hurst v. Florida. At the time, state law gave judges, not jurors, the ultimate authority to impose death, a Sixth Amendment violation.

    A legislative rewrite of the law allowing a 10-2 majority of jurors to impose death failed to pass muster with the Florida Supreme Court, which demanded a unanimous jury finding. Legislators rewrote the statute to address unanimity this session, and Gov. Rick Scott signed a new capital sentencing scheme into law Monday.

    Some experts estimate around half of Florida's roughly 400 death row inmates could come back for resentencing under the Hurst ruling.

    A slim majority of justices agreed that Hurst should be applied retroactively to Hodges' case, writing "in light of the nonunanimous jury recommendation to impose a death sentence, it cannot be said that the failure to require a unanimous verdict here was harmless."

    Hodges was sentenced to death on a vote of 10-2.

    In a brief dissenting opinion, Justices Charles T. Canady, Ricky Polston and C. Alan Lawson argued Hurst should not be applied retroactively and Hodges should not receive a new penalty phase.

    In a separate ruling Wednesday, the Florida Supreme Court determined the death penalty will remain on the table for Timothy Hurst.

    Jurors sentenced Hurst to death 7-5 for the murder of Cynthia Harrison, a coworker Hurst slashed to death in the cooler of a Nine Mile Road fast food restaurant where they both worked. Hurst is also up for resentencing, and he filed a petition contending the state could not seek the death penalty against him a second time because of double jeopardy laws.

    Justices unanimously denied the argument.

    http://www.pnj.com/story/news/2017/0...cing/99251768/

  10. #10
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    Man sentenced in Pensacola woman's murder back in court

    PENSACOLA, Fla. (WEAR) — An Alabama man sentenced to death for the murder of a Pensacola woman appeared before a judge in Escambia County Thursday morning.

    Willie Hodges was found guilty of killing and stabbing 58-year-old Patricia Belanger in 2001, but his case has been sent back to the court for re-sentencing.

    Police say Hodges beat the woman in the head with a hammer then stabbed her in the neck and throat with a knife.

    Assistant State Attorney John Malchon said they have returned Hodges' case for a new penalty phase.

    Malchon said Hodges will also be appointed a new attorney because his previous lawyer died last year.

    The Florida legislature this year changed the law to require a unanimous jury vote on a death penalty recommendation.

    The State Attorney's Office says it's revisiting Willie Hodges' case for a new penalty phase.

    "Based upon the Hurse decision, it has had a huge impact upon our workload. We're having to go back through a number of older cases and retry them in the penalty phase portions of it," explained Malchon.

    Earlier this year the jury in Hodge's case voted 10 to 2.

    Molchan said the new death penalty law has had a huge impact on their workload, but they are still pushing the death penalty for Hodges.

    "Our committee has met on the death penalty. We have a committee that reviews the aggravating mitigating circumstances. We did so with the new statute in mind based upon our analysis and review, we felt that seeking the death penalty was again appropriate in Mr. Hodges case," mentioned Molchan.

    While inside the courtroom Hodges asked if he could return to state prison because he did not want to remain in county jail. Since he is not a sentenced prisoner he will stay in the county lockup until his next court appearance later in May.

    The State Attorney's Office says Hodges next court appearance will be May 31.

    http://weartv.com/news/local/man-sen...-back-in-court
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