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Thread: Sonny Boy Oats, Jr. - Florida

  1. #1
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    Sonny Boy Oats, Jr. - Florida




    Facts of the Crime:

    Sonny Boy Oats, Jr. was convicted of first-degree murder and robbery with a firearm on January 30, 1980. He was sentenced to death for murder and 99 years for robbery with a firearm. On December 20, 1979, Jeanette Dyer, the clerk at the Little Country Store in Martel, Florida, was found lying on the floor with a gunshot wound, which had penetrated her right eye and brain. When Dyer was discovered, she had a faint heartbeat but died shortly after arriving at the hospital. At the store, money was missing from the cash register.

    On December 24, 1979, an Ocala policeman observed a vehicle with two suspicious-looking men inside it, who were customers of the Jiffy Food Store. As the officer approached the vehicle, the men sped away, leading to a high-speed chase between the officer and the suspects. During the chase, the vehicle crashed, but the two men were not immediately apprehended. Donnie Williams was arrested shortly after the crash and transported to the Marion County Jail.

    Oats was present at the jail inquiring about Williams’ release. Before he could get a response, Oats was informed that he was a suspect in the high-speed chase and had been arrested. Oats admitted to, not only his involvement in the high-speed chase, but also to the robbery of the Little Country Store and the murder of Dyer, the store’s clerk. Subsequently, he confessed to a robbery of an ABC Liquor Store and the shooting of the store’s clerk, which took place one day prior to the Little Country Store robbery.

    Oats directed police officers to a site where he had tossed his weapon subsequent to the high-speed chase. According to his statements of the ABC Liquor Store shooting, Oats claimed that he did not intend to shoot the clerk. Some time during the robbery, his foot slipped and his gun fired, the bullet hit the counter and almost shot the clerk. In June 1980, Oats was tried for the ABC Liquor Store robbery and shooting (Case #80-15 CFA), prior to and separate from the Little Country Store robbery and shooting. He was convicted of robbery with a firearm and second-degree murder.

    Oats escaped from jail shortly after he went into custody at the Marion County Jail. About six months later, Oats was recaptured in Texas by federal agents and sent back to the Marion County Jail. On January 30, 1980, Oats was indicted for the Little Country Store robbery and murder. At his trial, the state introduced evidence tying Oats to the ABC robbery and shooting, as the same weapon was used for both robberies and shootings.

    Oats was re-sentenced to death in Marion County on April 26, 1984.

    Co-defendant information:
    During Oats’ indictment, evidence was presented that Donnie Williams was also involved in the Little Country Store homicide, but was not charged. Additional evidence was presented in the Rule 3.850 hearing concerning his involvement.

  2. #2
    Senior Member CnCP Legend JLR's Avatar
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    Factors Contributing to the Delay in Imposition of Sentence:

    On 06/14/80, Oats escaped from the Marion County Jail. Six months later, on 12/14/80, Oats was arrested and taken into custody in Texas and then returned to the Marion County Jail.

    The FSC took three years to complete the Direct Appeal, took five years to decide on the Habeas petition and three years to decide the first 3.850 Appeal.

    The Circuit Court also took three years to decide Oats’ first 3.850 Motion, and almost three years for Oats’ second 3.850 Motion.

    Case Information:

    Oats raised six issues pertaining to the guilt phase of his Direct Appeal, which took place on 04/08/81. First, Oats claimed that the trial court erred by its failure to suppress his confessions in that they were not free and voluntary, but were extracted by a type of mental coercion. Second, Oats argued that he was denied the right to a fair and impartial trial by the court’s failure to sequester the jury. Third, Oats contended that the trial judge erred by failing to grant a change of venue on the grounds that the pretrial publicity was persuasive, inflammatory and prejudicial. Fourth, Oats claimed that the trial court erred by allowing the state to use Oats’ confession of the ABC robbery and shooting. Fifth, Oats argued that the prosecutor made prejudicial and inflammatory remarks in the course of the trial. Finally, Oats claimed that the trial court erred in denying his motion for a directed verdict of acquittal and new trial and accepting the guilty verdict of premeditated murder, which was claimed to be against the weight and sufficiency of the evidence. On 02/03/84, the Florida Supreme Court affirmed Oats’ conviction and remanded for a new sentencing order.

    On 06/01/84, Oats filed a Direct Appeal for resentencing to the Florida Supreme Court. On 04/25/85, the Court affirmed his death sentence.

    Oats filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the United States Supreme Court on 06/24/85, which was denied on 10/07/85.

    On 10/07/87, Oats filed a 3.850 Motion to the Circuit Court, which was denied on 11/21/90. Oats filed a motion for a rehearing on 12/15/90, which was denied 02/26/91.

    On 05/23/89, Oats filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus to the Florida Supreme Court. This petition was pending for five years before it was decided on 03/31/94. On 05/06/94, Oats filed a motion for a rehearing. His motion was denied on 06/13/94 and a mandate was issued.

    While Oats was petitioning a Writ of Habeas Corpus, Oats filed a 3.850 Appeal to the Florida Supreme Court on 03/25/91. After a three-year delay in their decision, the Court affirmed the trial court’s denial on 03//31/94. Oats filed a motion for a rehearing on 05/06/94, which was denied and a mandate was issued on 06/13/94.

    Oats filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus to the United States District Court, Middle District on 08/12/94, which was denied on 07/15/96.

    While Oats was petitioning for a Writ of Habeas Corpus, he also filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the United States Supreme Court on 10/20/94, which was denied on 01/09/95.

    Oats filed Habeas Appeal to the United States Court of Appeals on 12/03/96. The denial was affirmed on 05/19/98. Oats filed a motion for a rehearing on 06/12/98, which was denied on 11/17/98.

    Oats filed another Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the United States Supreme Court on 04/08/99, which was denied on 06/14/99
    .

    On 03/15/02, Oats filed a second 3.850 Motion to the Circuit Court, pending Florida Supreme Court appeals with Thomas v State (FSC# 00-1092) and Miller v State (FSC# 01-837) – cases involving mental retardation issues. On 11/25/02, an evidentiary hearing was held on the following five claims that: (1) the death sentence violated florida’s constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, (2) the death sentence violated the equal protection and due process clause to the 14th Amendment of the United States and Florida Constitutions, (3) the death sentence stands in violation of the 8th and 14th Amendments to the United States Constitution, (4) due to conflict of interest, counsel should be permitted to withdraw and Oats should be provided with conflict-free collateral counsel, and (5) Florida’s capital sentencing statute violates the 6th and 14th Amendments. On 01/24/05, the lower court granted an evidentiary hearing for claims 1-3 for the purposes of determining whether Oats is mentally retarded, and denied claims 4 and 5 as successive and procedurally barred.

    On 11/30/04, Oats filed a 3.851 Motion to the Circuit Court, which is currently pending.

  3. #3
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    September 28, 2010

    Death Row inmate in Ocala courtroom for hearing

    By Suevon Lee
    The Ocala Star-Banner

    OCALA - Sonny Boy Oats Jr., the 53-year-old Marion County man who’s been sitting on Death Row for nearly 30 years, was back in a courtroom Tuesday for a mental retardation hearing.

    Oats Jr. was sentenced to death by Circuit Judge Carven Angel on Feb. 10, 1981 for killing a 50-year-old convenience store clerk in Martel during the course of an armed robbery.

    Circuit Judge Hale Stancil presided over Tuesday’s hearing, which began in the morning and is expected to conclude Wednesday. Following the presentation of all testimony and closing arguments, the judge will issue a written order.

    If Oats, Jr. is considered to be mentally retarded, he cannot be executed and his sentence would be commuted to a life sentence. Dressed in a solid red jumpsuit, Oats Jr. Tuesday sat beside his defense attorneys in a courtroom devoid of spectators.

    He is the son of Sonny Boy Oats, who himself is serving a life sentence at Zephyrhills Correctional Institute for fatally shooting a man outside an ABC Liquors store in Ocala in July 1978.

    That location was the same spot in which Oats Jr. committed robbery a year later, an offense for which he is also serving a life sentence.

    http://www.ocala.com/article/2010092...CLES/100929663

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    SONNY BOY OATS, Jr. vs STATE OF FLORIDA

    In today's Florida Supreme Court opinions, the court REVERSED and REMANDED the district court's DENIAL of Oats' Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.203 motion claiming intellectual disability.
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  5. #5
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    Supreme Court Orders Hearing for Man on Death Row Since 1981

    The Supreme Court is ordering a new hearing for a man who's been on death row for 34 years to determine whether he is intellectually disabled and thus ineligible for execution.

    The ruling Thursday reverses a circuit court decision that Sonny Boy Oats, Jr. can be executed for the 1979 murder of a convenience store clerk during a robbery in Ocala.

    The Supreme Court said a circuit court erred when it determined that Oats failed to prove that he was intellectually disabled since childhood. It said there is ample evidence to suggest he was.

    The state's high court also referred to a 2014 U.S. Supreme Court decision that factors other than IQ need to be considered when determining intellectual ability in death penalty cases.

    http://www.nbcmiami.com/news/local/S...362885371.html

  6. #6
    Administrator Aaron's Avatar
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    In today's opinions, the Florida Supreme Court denied relief under Hurst to Oats.

    http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/d...17/sc17-68.pdf
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  7. #7
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    Florida Supreme Court opinion relates to the case of convicted murderer Sonny Boy Oats Jr.

    By Katie Pohlman
    The Ocala Star-Banner

    The Florida Supreme Court has denied death row inmate Sonny Boy Oats Jr.’s request for a jury to determine his intellectual state, saying it is the judge’s responsibility.

    The state’s highest court issued an opinion Thursday denying Oats’ claim that he has a right to a unanimous jury decision on whether he is intellectually disabled, which would disqualify him from the death penalty. His claim is based on new state legislation that makes unanimous jury decisions a requirement for death sentences.

    “It is clear that the Florida Legislature designated the trial judge, not the jury, as the fact finder for intellectual disability determinations,” the opinion reads.

    Oats, 59, was convicted in 1981 of the 1979 murder of convenience store clerk, Jeanette Dyer, 50. Then 22, Oats shot Dyer just days before Christmas while robbing the convenience store where she worked, in Martel in northwest Marion County. After his arrest, Oats confessed to killing Dyer and admitted that the day before he also had robbed a liquor store and discharged a gun. He was sentenced to death in February 1981.

    Whether Oats is intellectually disabled is already being considered by 5th Judicial Circuit Court Judge Jonathan Ohlman. In a Dec. 17, 2015, order, the Florida Supreme Court ordered the circuit court to revisit the issue. In the opinion, the Supreme Court wrote that the evidence presented strongly leads to the conclusion that Oats is intellectually disabled. A hearing was held May 9 to get the ball rolling in Ohlman’s decision process. Oats is allowed an evidentiary hearing before Ohlman’s decision.

    But Oats and his lawyers, Martin McClain and Nicole Noel, of Capital Collateral Regional Counsel, believe the issue should be determined by a jury. In their petition to the Supreme Court, they argued that intellectual disability is a fact necessary to render a death sentence. Under new state law, a jury must unanimously decide the facts that warrant a death sentence.

    The Florida Supreme Court argued its case, saying: “Intellectual disability is not a ‘necessary finding ... to impose a death sentence’ but is, rather, the opposite - a fact that bars death.”

    Collection of evidence and witnesses will continue in Oats’ intellectual disability dispute. If Ohlman rules in his favor, Oats’ sentence will be reduced to life in prison without parole, the minimum sentence for first-degree murder convictions.

    A hearing is scheduled for Sept. 7 at the Marion County Judicial Center.

    Oats is one of eight Marion County murderers on death row. He has spent the most time on death row, totaling 36 years.

    http://www.ocala.com/news/20170525/h...ual-disability
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  8. #8
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    Judge: 30-second conversation does not violate rights

    By Katie Pohlman
    The Ocala Star-Banner

    Sonny Boy Oats has been on death row for 37 years for the 1979 murder of Jeanette Dyer.

    A Marion County judge ruled this week that a 30-second conversation between a death row inmate and a court-appointed psychologist without attorneys present does not violate the defendant’s constitutional rights.

    Defense attorney Martin McClain argued April 2 that the conversation violated Sonny Boy Oats Jr.’s sixth amendment right to assistance of attorneys at critical stages in the proceedings against him. Fifth Circuit Court Judge Jonathan Ohlman ruled that the alleged violation does not pervade the entire proceeding and is harmless.

    Ohlman described the conversation in his order as a “brief, insignificant interaction.”

    Oats, 60, has been on death row for 37 years for the 1979 murder of Jeanette Dyer, 50, in a Martel convenience store in western Marion County a few days before Christmas. Oats planned to rob the store and, in a scuffle, shot Dyer.

    In December 2015, the Florida Supreme Court ordered the circuit court to revisit whether Oats has an intellectual disability. In an opinion, the court stated there was evidence that strongly leads to the conclusion that Oats might be disabled.

    His attorneys argue that Oats does have an intellectual disability, which would bar the state from executing him. Oats’ sentence could be reduced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

    Dr. Greg Prichard, the court-appointed psychologist, was instructed to meet with Oats and perform any tests or evaluations on the defendant to determine his intellectual ability.

    Miscommunication between the State Attorney’s Office, Capital Collateral Regional Counsel - South, which represents Oats, and the psychologist’s office led to Prichard and Oats having a brief conversation Jan. 3 without Oats’ attorneys. No examination was conducted.

    During the April 2 hearing, Prichard testified that the conversation was simply about whether Oats’ attorneys were on their way. Oats indicated he had no idea an evaluation was to take place that day and requested to be taken back to his cell. Prichard then left the prison.

    McClain argued that Prichard would be biased by that conversation for any future evaluations and a new expert should therefore be appointed. Prichard testified he developed no opinion on Oats’ mental state from the conversation.

    Ohlman ordered the three parties to coordinate and set up the proper evaluations before a status conference in July.

    Oats is one of four Marion County defendants on death row. Three others have been awarded resentencings under Florida’s new unanimous jury vote for death penalty rule.

    http://www.ocala.com/news/20180413/j...violate-rights
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  9. #9
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    Ocala’s Sonny Boy Oats will come off death row

    He will be resentenced to life in prison

    OCALA — Of the 340 people on the state’s death row, eight are from Marion County.

    Not for long.

    At a hearing Thursday, a prosecutor told Circuit Judge Steven Rogers that the state is unable to meet its burden to press for the death penalty for Sonny Boy Oats.

    Chief Assistant State Attorney Ric Ridgway told the court that of the nine psychiatrists and psychologists who have spoken with Oats, eight said he was intellectually disabled.

    Ridgway told the judge he could not overcome that burden. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that no one who’s deemed intellectually disabled can be executed.

    Rogers ordered that Oats, currently incarcerated at Union Corrections Institution, be transported to Marion County for re-sentencing.

    Lawyers said the only sentence that can be given is life behind bars.

    The date for Oats’ re-sentencing is unknown.

    Oats was convicted and sentenced to death in 1981.

    With his time on death row, Oats has far exceeded the amount of time inmates average from time of offense to execution. According to Florida Department of Corrections records, the average time of offense to execution is 27.4 years.

    Oats’ time on death row — 39 years — is almost as long as the average age of execution. The same DOC records show the average age of execution is 44.9 years.

    According to records, Oats robbed a liquor store on Dec. 12, 1979, and shot Eric Slusser, a clerk. Days later, on Dec. 20, he robbed another store, this time shooting and killing another clerk, Jeanette Dyer.

    The death sentence for the 62-year-old man was reversed in 1984 because of an error by a judge during Oats’ sentencing. He was re-sentenced the same year to death.

    In 1990, a motion was filed on behalf of Oats for ineffective counsel and mental health issues.

    After the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, a local judge in 2013 ruled that Oats was not intellectually disabled. But the state Supreme Court reversed that ruling because the judge had not considered all of the decisions in the 1990 motion.

    https://www.ocala.com/news/20200206/...-off-death-row
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  10. #10
    Administrator Helen's Avatar
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    Edited:

    Death sentence set aside for Ocala's Sonny Boy Oats; now serving life in prison

    By Austin L. Miller
    Ocala News

    The death sentence has been vacated for an Ocala man who has been on death row for decades.

    Circuit Judge Steven Rogers issued an order setting aside the death sentence of Sonny Boy Oats, pursuant to a joint stipulation by the State Attorney's Office and the defense. The stipulation cited Oats' intellectual disability.

    https://www.ocala.com/story/news/cou...on/4844839001/
    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

    "There are some people who just do not deserve to live,"
    - Rev. Richard Hawke

    "Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence"
    - Edgar Allan Poe

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