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Hoskins v. State

Supreme Court of Florida

November 3, 2011

Johnny HOSKINS, a/k/a Jamile Alle, Appellant,
STATE of Florida, Appellee.

Page 251

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 252

Billing Jennings, Capital Collateral Regional Counsel, Raheela Ahmed and Carol Contreras Rodriguez, Assistant CCR Counsel, Middle Region, Tampa, FL, for Appellant.

Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, FL, and Kenneth S. Nunnelley, Senior Assistant Attorney, Daytona Beach, FL, for Appellee.


Johnny Hoskins, a prisoner under sentence of death, appeals from the denial of his motion for postconviction relief filed under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.851. This Court has jurisdiction. See art. V, ยง 3(b)(1), Fla. Const. For the reasons explained below, we affirm the circuit court's order denying relief.


In October 1992, Hoskins raped and then gagged and bound Dorothy Berger, his eighty-year-old neighbor, in her home. After putting her in the trunk of her own car, Hoskins drove the car from Melbourne, Florida, to his parents' home in Georgia. Upon arrival early in the morning the next day, Hoskins borrowed a shovel from his father and drove to a nearby area, where he strangled his victim to death before he buried her. Hoskins v. State, 702 So.2d 202, 203-04 (Fla.1997). When the victim was found, she was still gagged and bound, and her body evidenced that she had been beaten and suffered several blows to the head. Id. at 204. Hoskins was convicted of first-degree murder, burglary of a dwelling, sexual battery with physical force, kidnapping, and robbery. Id. at 203. The trial court vacated the first penalty phase and held a second, following which the court sentenced Hoskins to death. On appeal, we affirmed the convictions and the sentences on all but the murder charge. Id. at 210. With regard to the death sentence for the first-degree murder, however, we remanded the case for the trial court to order a positron emission tomography (PET) scan of Hoskins based on the testimony of Hoskins' neuropsychologist during the penalty phase. Id. at 210-11. Subsequently, we vacated Hoskins' death sentence and ordered that a new penalty phase be conducted.

Page 253

Hoskins v. State, 735 So.2d 1281, 1281 (Fla.1999). Following this third penalty phase, the circuit court again imposed a sentence of death upon determining that any of the three aggravating circumstances found outweighed the mitigation:

Following the new penalty phase proceeding, the jury recommended death by a vote of 11-1. By special interrogatories, the jury found three aggravating circumstances: (1) the capital felony was committed during the course of or in flight after committing the crimes of robbery, sexual battery, or kidnapping (vote of 12-0); (2) the capital felony was committed for the purpose of avoiding or preventing a lawful arrest (vote of 12-0); and (3) the capital felony was especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel (HAC) (vote of 10-2). The trial court found the same aggravating circumstances had been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
The trial court found the following mitigating circumstances: (1) the Defendant formed and maintained loving relationships with his family (little weight); (2) the Defendant was a father figure to his siblings (little weight); (3) the Defendant protected his mother from his father's abuse (little weight); (4) low IQ (little weight); (5) low mental functional ability (little weight); (6) some abnormalities in the brain which may cause some impairment (little weight); (7) an impoverished and abusive background (some weight); (8) mental age equivalent (between fifteen and twenty-five) (little weight); (9) the Defendant helped support his family financially (little weight); (10) the Defendant had and cared for many pets (little weight); (11) no disciplinary problems in school (little weight); (12) the Defendant suffered from poor academic performance and left school at age sixteen to work to help his family (little weight); (13) the Defendant was not malingering (little weight); (14) the Defendant expressed remorse (little weight); (15) potential for rehabilitation and lack of future dangerousness (little weight); and (16) good jail conduct, including death row behavior (little weight). The trial court concluded that any one of the aggravating circumstances standing alone far outweighed all of the mitigating circumstances and resentenced Hoskins to death.

Hoskins v. State, 965 So.2d 1, 6-7 (Fla.2007) (emphasis added), cert. denied, 552 U.S. 1152, 128 S.Ct. 1112, 169 L.Ed.2d 827 (2008). We affirmed the sentence. Id. at 22.

Hoskins subsequently filed a motion for postconviction relief, largely alleging claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. After an evidentiary hearing, the circuit court denied relief. ...

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