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Jason Wheeler - Florida
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Thread: Jason Wheeler - Florida

  1. #1
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    Jason Wheeler - Florida


    Deputy Wayne Koester




    Summary of Offense:

    Jason Wheeler was convicted of the February 9, 2005 murder of Deputy Wayne Koester and the contemporaneous attempted first-degree murder and battery with a firearm of deputies Thomas McKane and William Crotty. On the morning of January 9, 2005, Jason Wheeler’s then-girlfriend, Sara Heckerman, placed a 911 call from the Lake County home the couple shared. Deputies Wayne Koester, William Crotty, and Thomas McKane responded to the 911 call in full uniform, each driving a marked patrol car. Upon arrival, Deputy Crotty observed Heckerman with facial bruising and a head wound and made the decision to arrest Wheeler. The deputies then obtained Heckerman’s consent to search the premises.

    When deputies McKane and Koester began to mark the crime scene with tape, Wheeler appeared with a shotgun and began shooting at the two deputies. Deputy Crotty took cover at the rear end of one of the patrol cars and Wheeler turned and opened fire in that direction as well. Deputy Crotty then observed Deputy Koester running up the driveway, bleeding from wounds to his face and being chased by Wheeler who was aiming the shotgun at Deputy Koester’s back. Wheeler then turned to Deputy Crotty and fired, wounding him in the leg. When Deputy Crotty returned fire, Wheeler ran into the woods adjacent to the crime scene. Wheeler soon returned and continued to shoot at Deputy Crotty while yelling threats to kill him. When Wheeler ran back into the woods a second time, Deputy Crotty fired again at Wheeler, injuring him in the buttocks. Deputy McKane was also engaged in the gun battle with Wheeler, who returned fire and injured Deputy McKane’s leg, hand, arm, shoulder, and lip.

    With Wheeler hiding in the woods, the search continued for several hours with the use of a search helicopter and tracking dogs. Another officer eventually found Wheeler lying on the ground in a wooded area near a lake. Upon being found, Wheeler stood and screamed several times for the officer to kill him. When Wheeler appeared to reach for a weapon, the officer fired shots at Wheeler, resulting in his permanent paralysis. Wheeler was found with speaker wire wrapped around his neck and reported to another officer that he had tried unsuccessfully to kill himself during the search. Deputy Koester died as a result of a shotgun blast he received from Wheeler. Koester had sustained nonfatal injuries to his arms, hand, neck, buttocks, and legs caused by birdshot pellets. Koester had also sustained a nonfatal injury to his armpit, chest, and lungs caused by buckshot pellets. The last and fatal injury was a birdshot pellet injury to the head, during which pellets entered Koester’s left eye and lodged in his brain.

    Wheeler was sentenced to death in Lake County on October 23, 2006.

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    January 30, 2009

    High court upholds death sentence for deputy's killer

    The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously upheld the conviction and death sentence of Jason Wheeler, who ambushed three Lake County deputies nearly 4 years ago, killing 1 and wounding 2 others in Lake Kathryn. The state's high court rejected a series of arguments that attacked the evidence, law and a prosecutor's remarks to jurors who recommended the death penalty. Wheeler was convicted of 1st-degree murder in the Feb. 9, 2005, killing of Deputy Wayne Koester, who was shot in the face as he and 2 other deputies investigated the sexual battery of Wheeler's live-in girlfriend, Sarah Heckerman. The court found the evidence "clearly sufficient in every respect," making a special note of Wheeler's choice to "go out in a blaze of glory" rather than hide when he saw the lawmen. Now 33, Wheeler, paralyzed by a gunshot wound, remains in a wheelchair at Union Correctional Institution in Raiford.

    (Source: The Orlando Sentinel)

  3. #3
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    On September 14, 2010, Wheeler filed a 3.851 motion in the circuit court. On February 4, 2011, Wheeler filed an amendment on claim IV to his 3.851 motion.

  4. #4
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    Justices Again Will Hear Cop Killer's Case

    A death row inmate who killed a Lake County sheriff's deputy in 2005 will be back before the Florida Supreme Court.

    A court calendar released Friday showed Jason Wheeler's appeal of his motion for postconviction relief will be heard April 3.

    Wheeler shot and killed Deputy Wayne Koester after Koester responded to a domestic violence call from Wheeler's girlfriend. He lost his direct appeal in 2009.

    Wheeler was shot and paralyzed from the neck down when captured after a manhunt in the Ocala National Forest. He claimed Satan and drugs led him to ambush deputies with a sawed-off shotgun.

    http://www.theledger.com/article/201...-Killer-s-Case
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  5. #5
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    Deputy's convicted killer appeals death sentence

    By Ludmilla Lelis
    The Orlando Sentinel

    An attorney for convicted cop killer Jason Wheeler asked the Florida Supreme Court this week to overturn his death sentence, arguing that the trial attorneys failed to raise two key points in his defense.

    Mark Gruber, an attorney for the death-row inmate, focused on claims that trial attorneys could have proven Wheeler was acting on the influence of drugs during the February 2005 shooting and that the use of 54 photos of the victim, Lake Deputy Wayne Koester, during the last phase of the trial was excessive.

    Wheeler, 37, was convicted of the first-degree murder of Koester, one of the deputies dispatched to Wheeler's Paisley home for a domestic-violence complaint. Eventually, deputies tracked down Wheeler and shot and paralyzed him.

    During a hearing in Tallahassee, Gruber argued that trial attorneys should have conducted testing of Wheeler's bloody bandages from his gunshot wounds. Testing of the bandages conducted after his conviction showed evidence of methamphetamine, cocaine and opiates in his blood stream, according to court records.

    In the months before Koester's death, after losing his job and his home in the 2004 hurricanes, Wheeler deteriorated from drug addiction. "What you see is a spiral, a methamphetamine binge," Gruber said.

    Justice Charles T. Canady questioned whether such testing would have helped Wheeler because the testing can't show the amount of drugs in his system and how much the drugs had influenced his actions.

    "What it allows is virtually meaningless," Canady said. "It tells you nothing but what is already known, that this is a gentleman who abused drugs."

    Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Nunnelley argued there was plenty of trial testimony about Wheeler's chronic methamphetamine and cocaine use.

    "Nobody ever said the defendant was not using methamphetamine," Nunnelley said. "Testing of those bandages for meth was cumulative. It adds nothing to the case except expenses."

    Gruber also questioned how jurors were affected by photos of Koester presented during the penalty phase showing him holding his babies, celebrating with his wife, as a National Guard member and as a youth coach. Such photos become part of death-penalty cases to show the impact of a victim's death. However, Gruber argued that trial attorneys failed to object to the number of the photos and the extent of the victim-impact testimony. Nunnelley countered that the victim's photos were not the deciding factor that led jurors to vote 10-2 for the death sentence.

    "Those pictures didn't earn him a death sentence. His actions on Feb. 9, 2005, earned him a death sentence," Nunnelley said. "This is a case where death is undoubtedly the correct sentence."

    http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/...tory?track=rss

  6. #6
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    June 27, 2013

    Death sentence upheld for convicted cop-killer Jason Wheeler

    By Ludmilla Lelio
    The Orlando Sentinel

    The Florida Supreme Court today upheld the conviction and death sentence for Jason Wheeler, who was convicted of killing a Lake County deputy in 2005.

    Wheeler was found guilty of shooting Deputy Wayne Koester, one of the deputies dispatched to his Paisley home in February 2005 for a domestic-violence complaint. Wheeler escaped arrest initially, but deputies tracked him down, shot him and paralyzed him.

    In his appeal, Wheeler's attorney argued there were nine problems with the trial, mostly that his defense attorney failed to offer key evidence or object to evidence. Among the claims, Wheeler said there should have been testing of Wheeler's blood bandages from his gunshot wounds. The testing would have showed evidence of methamphetamine, cocaine and opiates in his blood stream, court records show.

    However, the high court analyzed each of his claims, finding there was "competent and substantial evidence" for each of those issues.

    http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/...-wayne-koester

  7. #7
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    On November 25, 2013, Wheeler filed a habeas petition in Federal District Court.

    http://dockets.justia.com/docket/flo...cv00576/291589

  8. #8
    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.

    LAKE KATHRYN HEIGHTS — Jason Wheeler ambushed and killed Lake County Sheriff’s deputy Wayne Koester and wounded two others responding to a domestic violence call at his home in the Ocala National Forest in 2005. Wheeler was sentenced to death in 2006 after a 10-2 vote.

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