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William Gregory Thomas - Florida Death Row
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Thread: William Gregory Thomas - Florida Death Row

  1. #1
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    Oct 2010

    William Gregory Thomas - Florida Death Row

    Facts of the Crime:

    William Thomas was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of his wife, Rachel Thomas. To avoid paying his portion of their impending divorce settlement, William Thomas planned to kidnap and kill his wife. On September 12, 1991, Thomas and his friend, Douglas Schraud, went to Rachel’s house in order to kidnap her. Thomas beat Rachel and then tied her up. Rachel attempted to flee by hopping outside, but Thomas dragged her back into the house by her hair. Thomas then put Rachel into the truck of her car and left the scene. Rachel Thomas was never seen again.

    Thomas was eventually indicted for the murder of his wife in May 1993. Thomas had made numerous inculpatory statements about Rachel Thomas’ disappearance; however, suspicion fell heavily upon Thomas after his mother was murdered. Authorities believed that Thomas killed his mother in order to prevent her from implicating him in the murder of Rachel Thomas.

    Thomas was sentenced to death in Duval County on July 22, 1994.

    Additional information:
    William Thomas was also convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment (CC #93-5393) for the May 4, 1993 murder of his mother, Elsie Thomas, who he killed in order to keep her from talking to the police about the death of Rachel Thomas. On July 14, 1994, Thomas pled guilty to the murder of Elsie Thomas. In exchange for a recommendation of life in this case (CC #93-5393), Thomas waived his right to appeal any guilt phase issue arising out of the trial for the murder of his wife, Rachel Thomas (CC #93-5394).

  2. #2
    Senior Member CnCP Legend JLR's Avatar
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    Mar 2011
    Case Information:

    On 08/25/94, Thomas filed a Direct Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court. In that appeal, he argued that the State failed to prove corpus delecti[1]. The Florida Supreme Court noted:

    In the present case, the State's evidence showed the following: Douglas Schraud was present when Thomas beat, bound and abducted Rachel in the trunk of her car. Later that day, Thomas met a friend at the Roosevelt Mall and the friend saw him park and abandon Rachel's car after wiping it down with a towel. Thomas's palm print was found on the hood of the car. Rachel has not been seen or heard from since. It was uncharacteristic of Rachel to miss appointments or to leave behind her family and son--she had never even stayed out all night before. She not only missed a planned evening with a friend, she left behind her gym bag, purse, driver's license, a photograph of her son, twenty dollars in cash she had obtained only an hour before she disappeared, all her clothes, and the $ 750 she had in her bank account. Moreover, she disappeared the day before payday. She had given coworkers no indication she was unhappy in her job, and had never expressed to her family any desire to leave or get away from it all. Although Rachel was a neat person and kept her home immaculate, after her disappearance her garage door was left standing wide open and the door into the house from the garage was left unlocked. There were signs of a struggle in the foyer, as well as blood on the baseboard and on the vent. Blankets were missing from the garage. Witnesses testified that Thomas wore tennis shoes the evening of the murder and there was a tennis shoe print on the floor of the garage. When asked by police, however, Thomas denied owning any tennis shoes, and the next day he collected all his tennis shoes and threw them away.
    Based on the foregoing, we conclude that the State introduced sufficient evidence to prove the corpus delicti of the murder and to lay the predicate for admission of Thomas's inculpatory statements. We note that Thomas made many inculpatory statements and admissions. The State introduced sufficient evidence to show that Rachel is dead and Thomas killed her.

    Thomas also argued that the court erred in failing to consider mitigating evidence in the sentencing order. The Florida Supreme Court affirmed the convictions and sentence of death on 03/20/97.

    Thomas next filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court, which was denied on 11/17/97.

    Next, Thomas filed a 3.850 Motion in the State Circuit Court, which was denied on 04/26/01. He then filed an appeal of that decision in the Florida Supreme Court on 06/29/01, in which the denial of Thomas’ 3.850 was affirmed. A mandate was issued 03/03/03.

    Thomas filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in the United States District Court, Middle District on 03/22/04. An Evidentiary Hearing was held on 02/21/08. On 07/02/09, the United States District Court ordered this petition to be stayed and administratively closed this case due to a pending Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court.

    On 08/21/09, a Petition for Writ of Certiorari was filed in the United States Supreme Court. This petition was denied on 11/02/09.

  3. #3
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    No. 09-234 *** CAPITAL CASE ***
    Walter A. McNeil, Secretary, Florida Department of Corrections, Petitioner
    William Greg Thomas
    Docketed: August 26, 2009
    Linked with 09A51
    Lower Ct: United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
    Case Nos.: (09-90004)
    Decision Date: April 23, 2009

    ~~~Date~~~ ~~~~~~~Proceedings and Orders~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Jul 7 2009 Application (09A51) to extend the time to file a petition for a writ of certiorari from July 22, 2009 to August 21, 2009, submitted to Justice Thomas.
    Jul 15 2009 Application (09A51) granted by Justice Thomas extending the time to file until August 21, 2009.
    Aug 21 2009 Petition for a writ of certiorari filed. (Response due September 25, 2009)
    Sep 24 2009 Brief of respondent William Greg Thomas in opposition filed.
    Sep 24 2009 Motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis filed by respondent William Greg Thomas.
    Oct 7 2009 DISTRIBUTED for Conference of October 30, 2009.
    Oct 15 2009 Supplemental brief of respondent William Greg Thomas filed. (Distributed)
    Nov 2 2009 Motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis filed by respondent GRANTED.
    Nov 2 2009 Petition DENIED.


  4. #4
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    On October 7, 2013, Thomas filed an appeal before the US Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.


  5. #5
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    Thomas v. Attorney General

    Opinion Date: July 31, 2015

    Court: 11th Circuit Court of Appeals

    Petitioner, sentenced to death for murdering his wife, appealed the district court's denial of his federal habeas petition. The district court held that the petition was untimely, but that petitioner was entitled to equitable tolling in light of his attorney’s egregious misconduct. However, the district court denied relief on the merits. The Attorney General filed a motion to limit briefing to the question of equitable tolling. Petitioner filed a motion to stay the current briefing schedule until the resolution of the AG's motion. The court concluded, sua sponte, that the proper course is to remand this case to the district court to make additional and detailed findings of fact concerning petitioner's claim to equitable tolling, including exactly what may have happened and, most importantly, why counsel did not timely file this section 2254 petition. The court directed the district court to apply these findings of fact to the changing landscape in the law of equitable tolling. Accordingly, the court denied as moot the state's motion to limit briefing before the court to equitable tolling and the petitioner's motion to stay the current briefing schedule.
    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    "Y'all be makin shit up" ~ Markeith Loyd

  6. #6
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    Probe Ordered Of Lauderdale Death Penalty Attorney

    In a highly unusual move, Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Jorge Labarga has ordered an investigation of a death penalty lawyer who has repeatedly missed critical deadlines, was involved in a capital case in which roach-infested boxes of documents were destroyed by rain and who is currently representing two inmates who are trying to fire her.

    Labarga ordered the probe of Fort Lauderdale lawyer Mary Catherine Bonner “pursuant to the Court’s authority to monitor the representation of capital defendants to ensure that the defendants receive quality representation” on November 8th, seven months after prominent death-penalty lawyer Martin McClain wrote to the court outlining concerns about Bonner.

    Bonner, included in a registry of lawyers appointed by the court to represent Florida Death Row inmates in post-conviction appeals, was rebuked by a federal judge several years ago for failing on two separate occasions to meet a one-year deadline to file habeas corpus petitions. Such federal appeals provide inmates a last chance to have their convictions reviewed on a variety of grounds.

    In this month’s administrative order, Labarga appointed 3rd District Court of Appeal Judge Kevin Emas as the referee in the Bonner investigation and named Belvin Perry, a former 9th Judicial Circuit chief judge who presided over the Casey Anthony murder trial, to serve as special counsel to the referee.

    Labarga gave Emas 90 days to complete the inquiry and file a report on Bonner.

    “The referee shall make findings of fact and recommend any necessary remedial action, including the removal of Mary Catherine Bonner from the registry for postconviction capital attorneys, if appropriate,” the two-page order said.

    Bonner did not respond to phone calls and emails seeking comment.

    Numerous death-penalty legal experts told The News Service of Florida that Labarga’s order appeared to be the first of its kind.

    Florida’s death penalty has been under scrutiny for nearly a year, since the U.S. Supreme Court, in a case known as Hurst v. Florida, issued a ruling in January that struck down the state’s capital sentencing system as unconstitutional because it gave too much power to judges, instead of juries.

    State lawmakers hurriedly passed a new law intended to fix the deficiency, but the Florida Supreme Court last month overturned that law because it did not require unanimous jury recommendations for the death penalty to be imposed.

    Labarga ordered the Bonner investigation after McClain sent a letter April 4 to the clerk of the Florida Supreme Court raising alarms about two Death Row inmates, Alphonso Cave and Paul William Scott, whom Bonner represents in state court. Cave and Scott have independently asked the court to dismiss Bonner from their cases; both men alleged that their lawyer went for years without contacting them. McClain represented Scott for a period over a decade ago, as well as Cave’s co-defendant, who has since been executed.

    McClain also wrote about Bonner’s court-appointed representation of two Death Row inmates — including Mark James Asay, whose pending execution was put on hold by the Florida Supreme Court earlier this year. McClain now represents the two Death Row inmates.

    In 2009, U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan harshly criticized Bonner for filing federal appeals in the cases of Asay and William Greg Thomas more than 200 days after a one-year deadline had run out.

    Bonner blamed the delays in part on health problems both she and her husband had undergone, but the Jacksonville judge was not appeased.

    “The terms ‘bad faith’ or ‘dishonesty’ capture Ms. Bonner’s conduct and are the type of egregious conduct that rises well above professional negligence or even gross negligence,” Corrigan wrote of Bonner’s handling of Asay’s petitions in 2009.

    Bonner’s delays in filing the federal appeals prompted Corrigan to grant “equitable tolling” in both cases, allowing the missed deadlines to be ignored.

    The Florida Attorney General’s office, which represents the state in capital cases, opposed giving the inmates more time to file the federal appeals but maintained that Bonner’s conduct warranted sanctions.

    Even so, the state opposes allowing inmates whom Bonner currently represents to fire her.

    In March, Cave sent a hand-written letter to the Supreme Court requesting that Bonner be terminated as his attorney, saying he had not seen her in four years and she had not responded to his letters and calls.

    Cave — whom Bonner has represented for nearly half of the more than three decades he has spent on Death Row — was concerned about the impact of the Hurst ruling on his case. That decision prompted the state court to put the scheduled executions of Asay and Cary Michael Lambrix on hold indefinitely.

    In April, Bonner asked the state court to keep her on as Cave’s lawyer, saying she “took a very bad fall” and broke her shoulder. Bonner went on to describe in detail problems she encountered during her recovery, including “a terrible adverse reaction to pain medication” and lengthy waits at the hospital where she was being treated.

    Bonner — who has a clean record with The Florida Bar — also wrote to Cave, asking him to keep her on as his attorney.

    “I care about your fate and will vigorously litigate on your behalf,” she wrote to the inmate on April 3.

    In a hand-written response to the court dated April 11, Cave wrote that he simply wanted a lawyer who would file the appropriate documents on his behalf.

    “It is unfortunate and just not right that I had to write this Honorable Court to get my lawyer to correspond with me,” Cave, 57, wrote.

    Cave’s letter is the latest document posted in his case on the Florida Supreme Court website.

    Scott also asked the court to remove Bonner as his lawyer in state court. After the court refused that request, Scott appealed. That appeal is pending, according to the state court website.

    Asay’s case became the focus of attention earlier this year.

    McClain took over Asay’s case in January, shortly after Gov. Rick Scott set a March execution date for the convicted double murderer.

    After being sentenced to die, Asay went for a decade without legal representation, and almost all of the paper records involving his case went missing or were destroyed.

    McClain described difficulties he encountered trying to retrieve documents from Bonner, who had served as Asay’s lawyer in the federal appeals.

    “Despite the exigencies created by Mr. Asay’s pending death warrant, she repeatedly delayed ascertaining and advising what files she had. About a week into the warrant, she had four mold and insect infested boxes delivered to my office. One of the boxes was largely empty. All of the material in the boxes had been exposed to water and was ruined. The prevalence of mold made the boxes a health hazard,” McClain wrote to Florida Supreme Court Clerk John Tomasino on April 4.

    Bonner later delivered more boxes to McClain “after they had been left outside in a driving rain storm,” he continued.

    The boxes were “completely waterlogged” and “were literally disintegrating as they were carried to my office,” he wrote.
    Much of the material in the boxes was unrelated to Asay’s case, according to McClain’s letter.

    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    "Y'all be makin shit up" ~ Markeith Loyd

  7. #7
    Administrator Helen's Avatar
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    Jan 2013
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    This DP lawyer should be severely punished as should all lawyers who miss filing deadlines.
    "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

  8. #8
    Senior Member Member pro pro's Avatar
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    Nov 2016
    Does this increase his likely hood of getting executed.

  9. #9
    Senior Member CnCP Legend
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    Jun 2015
    Bucks County Pennsylvania
    No, this will give any inmates that Bonner represented even more appeals.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Member pro pro's Avatar
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    Nov 2016
    Do you think that he is likely to be selected if he ran out of appeals.

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