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Eric Lee Simmons - Florida
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Thread: Eric Lee Simmons - Florida

  1. #1
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    Eric Lee Simmons - Florida

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    Facts of the Crime:

    Eric Simmons was indicted and convicted of the kidnapping, sexual battery and murder of Deborah Tressler. On December 3, 2001, Tresslerís body was discovered in a wooded area by a patrolling officer. Crime Scene Technicians photographed the scene and took evidence such as beer cans, larvae off the exterior of the body, and casts of the tire tracks that had the greatest detail. No fingerprints of value or bullet shells were found at the scene. Many tire track prints near the body were destroyed in the dig looking for bullets. The larvae collected from Tresslerís body were used to determine the date of death to be December 1, 2001.

    Since there was no blood or disturbance to the debris around the body, it was concluded that the murder had taken place elsewhere. The victim had blunt trauma to the head and face, a cut on the neck and a stab wound five inches deep in the lower abdomen. She had injuries to her legs and knees along with defensive wounds to her hands and arms. She also had bruising and lacerations to her anus which were determined to be caused by an object inconsistent with consensual anal intercourse.

    Detectives investigated the laundromat where Tressler worked. They found her purse there with a gift list for Eric Simmons and his family members. No blood was found at the laundromat.

    Simmonsí car was confiscated for investigation. Evidence of blood stains was found on the passengerís door, car floor and cushions. The rear tires of Simmons car were a possible match to the tire tracks found at the scene. Jose Rodriguez testified that he saw Simmons and Tressler talking together in the laundromat on the evening of December 1, 2001. Rodriguez, however, incorrectly identified a photograph as Simmons. It wasnít until later, when a single photograph of Simmons was shown to Rodriguez, that he accurately identified Simmons.

    During trial, two witnesses testified that on December 1, 2001, at the Circle K, a car drove by and a girl opened the door, screamed for help and attempted to escape. The first witness identified Simmons car as being similar to the car he saw on that night, but not identical. The second witness from the Circle K positively identified Simmonsí car, however, she testified that Tresslerís hair did not match the hair of the girl she saw attempting to escape from the car.

    During questioning, Simmons acknowledged spending time with Tressler on December 1, 2001, but claimed that at the end of the evening he dropped her off at the laundromat. The next morning, Simmons went to Tresslerís home to pick her up for the day, but she was not there. Detectives then told Simmons they had found blood stains inside his car. At this point, Simmons admitted to committing the murder.

    The larvae collected from Tresslerís body were used to determine the time of death. Originally, December 1, 2001 was the determined date of the murder; however, further examination by an expert revealed that the larvae could not provide evidence for a conclusive date. Further examination of Simmonsí car also indicated the blood stains were insufficient to classify it as the place where the murder took place.

    Simmons was sentenced to death in Lake County on December 11, 2003.

  2. #2
    Senior Member CnCP Legend JLR's Avatar
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    Case Information:

    On 01/07/04, Simmons filed a direct appeal with the Florida Supreme Court. Simmons contended the verdict was not supported by evidence, motions to suppress were improperly denied, law enforcement failed to investigate the case to provide any valuable evidence and the State mischaracterized and invented new evidence. Simmons also contended the trial court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case, there was no possible cause for his arrest and DNA evidence was improperly submitted and argued. Simmons also argued that the lower court erred in excluding the defenseís eye witness expert, the state improperly classified one of its witnesses as an expert and in-court identification of Simmonsí car was improperly permitted. Finally, Simmons argued the prosecutorís misconduct jeopardized a fair trial and that the death penalty was improperly imposed. On 05/11/06, the FSC affirmed the conviction and sentence.

    Simmons filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court on 12/07/06 that was denied on 02/20/07.

    Simmons filed a 3.851 Motion in the Circuit Court on 01/29/08. This motion was denied on 08/23/10. Simmons filed a Motion for Rehearing on 09/08/10, and it was denied on 09/20/10.

    On 10/22/10, Simmons filed a 3.851 Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court. This appeal is currently pending.

  3. #3
    Senior Member CnCP Legend JLR's Avatar
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    Oral arguments were held on the 8th of March.

    http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/p.../oa03-12.shtml

    Briefs can be found here.

    http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/p...035/index.html

  4. #4
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    ERIC SIMMONS v. STATE OF FLORIDA

    In today's opinions, the Florida Supreme Court AFFIRMED the postconviction court’s denial of relief as to Simmons’ guilt phase claims, REVERSED the denial of relief as to the penalty phase and REMANDED for a new penalty phase proceeding because counsel failed to fully investigate and present mitigating evidence regarding Simmons’ childhood and mental health, and DENIED Simmons’ petition for writ of habeas corpus.
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  5. #5
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    Jury says murderer should be executed

    By Millard K. Ives
    The South Lake Press

    A convicted murder may be placed back on death row after a Lake County jury decided Thursday morning during a re-sentencing hearing that his low IQ, family history of sexual assaults, abuse and alcoholism did not warrant life behind bars instead.

    After more than two hours of deliberation, the jury came back with its 8-4 decision of death for Eric Lee Simmons, who was initially convicted of murder and sentenced to death in 2003. However, Judge Don F. Briggs will still have to approve Thursday's decision.

    According to testimony presented during the hearing that started last week, Debbie Tressler, a 48-year-old Sorrento woman, was last seen calling for help from a car driving on State Road 44 on Dec. 1, 2001. Two days later, her body was found beaten, stabbed and raped in a wooded area in Sorrento.

    Witnesses identified Simmons’ car as the one that had Tressler in it. DNA evidence also was found in his car.

    In the first trial, Simmons, a former Mount Dora resident, was sentenced to death in the murder and life on the rape charge.

    But the Florida Supreme Court vacated the death sentence for Simmons two years ago after citing that his lawyers during the initial sentencing hearing failed to fully investigate and present mitigating evidence, including his low intelligence, a brain injury suffered as a child and substance abuse.

    Simmons’ new lawyers produced evidence to support the defendant's low IQ, history of sexual abuse and alcoholism that was passed down from his family, saying it prevented him from making the right choice when he decided to rape and kill Tressler.

    But prosecutors argued Simmons still knew right from wrong.

    http://www.southlakepress.com/news/a...60056659d.html

  6. #6
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    October 18, 2014

    Man sentenced to death again in Sorrento murder

    A 39-year-old convicted kidnapper, rapist and murderer of a Sorrento woman has been sentenced to death again in the case.

    Circuit Judge Don Briggs this week upheld the recommendation made by a Lake County jury in February to give Eric Lee Simmons the death sentence — a jury put together after the Florida Supreme Court vacated his death sentence initially imposed shortly after his 2003 murder conviction in the case due to questions surrounding the defendant’s mental state and IQ.

    Rich Buxman, who prosecuted the case, attributed the six-month wait to the judge reviewing a number of aggravating and mediating factors.

    The new sentence still must go up for automatic review by the same High Court, Buxman added.

    Simmons was convicted and sentenced to death in the murder of Deborah Tressler, 48, whose body was found beaten, stabbed and raped in a wooded area in Sorrento in December of 2001. He also was sentenced to life in the battery and rape of Tressler.

    The path for a new hearing was paved in 2012 when the High Court’s majority ruled Simmons’ lawyers failed to fully investigate and present mitigating evidence during the sentencing phase of his trial, including his low intelligence, a brain injury suffered as a child and substance abuse.

    As an infant, Simmons apparently was suffocated accidentally, which caused brain damage and may have played a role in his behavioral problems at school. According to court records, he began using marijuana as a 9-year-old and was consuming up to 12 beers a day as a teenager.

    The measure of Simmons’ IQ also was questioned.

    http://www.dailycommercial.com/news/...a3e91c196.html

  7. #7
    Moderator Ryan's Avatar
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    Sorrento killer among death penalty cases to be reviewed

    LEESBURG — In another sign of the impact of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down a key part of Florida's death-penalty sentencing system, the state Supreme Court has issued orders allowing six Death Row inmates to file briefs about how the ruling might apply to their cases.

    This includes Eric Lee Simmons, 41, convicted and sentenced to death in the murder of Deborah Tressler, 48, whose body was found beaten, stabbed and raped in a wooded area in Sorrento in December 2001.

    Crime scene technicians determined Tressler was murdered elsewhere and dumped in the woods. Detectives went to the laudromat where she worked, found Simmons' name on a piece of paper in her purse and blood stains in his car. They never did find out where the murder took place.

    The Florida Supreme Court's orders, issued Tuesday, are in cases that already had been scheduled for oral arguments during the first week of February. The orders will allow lawyers for the inmates and the state to file briefs next week about the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in advance of the oral arguments.

    The Florida Supreme Court initially vacated Simmons’ death sentence, imposed shortly after his 2003 murder conviction, due to questions surrounding the defendant’s mental state and IQ. In 2014, he was re-tried and sentenced to death again, with the sentence up for automatic review by the Florida Supreme Court.

    The review is set for 9 a.m. on Feb. 4.

    The U.S. Supreme Court, in an 8-1 decision, found Jan. 12 that Florida's system of imposing death sentences was an unconstitutional violation of the Sixth Amendment right to trial by jury because it gave too much decision-making power to judges instead of juries.

    A key question is whether — or how — the ruling might apply to people already sentenced to death.

    http://www.dailycommercial.com/news/...6f21efcfc.html

  8. #8
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    ERIC LEE SIMMONS v STATE OF FLORIDA

    In today's opinions, the Florida Supreme Court VACATED Simmons' sentence and REMANDED for resentencing based on HURST v STATE.
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  9. #9
    Administrator Helen's Avatar
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    Edited:

    List of murder defendants in Lake County

    By Frank Stanfield
    Daily Commercial

    Jury rule resentencings

    Because the courts have ordered that juries be unanimous in death sentence recommendations, Lake circuit courts will be bringing back four death row inmates sentenced after 2002: Donald Williams, Eric Simmons, Jason Wheeler and Donte Hall will get resentencing hearings.

    Eric Simmons was sentenced to death in 2003 in a unanimous decision in the murder of a 48-year-old woman who was found beaten, stabbed and raped in a wooded area in Sorrento in December 2001. However, the Florida Supreme Court in 2012 tossed out his initial death sentence, saying that his first public defender failed to fully investigate and present mitigating evidence. The second jury in 2014 voted 8-4 to keep him on Death Row.

    http://www.dailycommercial.com/news/...in-lake-county
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