FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE REHEARING MOTION, AND IF
Proceeding - Habeas Corpus
J. McClain, Special Assistant Capital Collateral Regional
Counsel, and Nicole M. Noël, Assistant Capital
Collateral Regional Counsel, Southern Region, Fort
Lauderdale, Florida, for Petitioner
Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, Florida; and Vivian
Singleton, Assistant Attorney General, Daytona Beach,
Florida, for Respondent
Boy Oats, Jr., was tried and convicted for the December 1979
robbery of a convenience store and first-degree murder of the
store clerk. Oats v. State, 181 So.3d 457, 460 (Fla.
2015). This Court affirmed Oats' conviction on direct
appeal but held that the trial court erroneously found three
aggravating factors and remanded to the trial court for entry
of a new sentencing order. Oats v. State, 446 So.2d
90, 95-96 (Fla. 1984). On remand, the trial court reweighed
the valid aggravating factors and again imposed the death
penalty, which this Court then affirmed. Oats v.
State, 472 So.2d 1143, 1145 (Fla.), cert.
denied, 474 U.S. 865 (1985). This Court later affirmed
the trial court's denial of Oats' initial motion for
postconviction relief and denied his petition for a writ of
habeas corpus. Oats v. Dugger, 638 So.2d 20, 20
2015, pursuant to the United States Supreme Court's
decision in Hall v. Florida, 134 S.Ct. 1986 (2014),
this Court remanded Oats' case back to the circuit court
for a new intellectual disability evidentiary hearing.
Oats, 181 So.3d at 471. Following this Court's
opinion in Hurst v. State (Hurst), 202
So.3d 40 (Fla. 2016), cert. denied, No. 16-998 (U.S.
May 22, 2017), on October 28, 2016, Oats filed a
postconviction motion in the circuit court seeking relief
under Hurst, which the circuit court held in
abeyance pending the evidentiary hearing on Oats'
January 17, 2017, Oats filed the current petition for a writ
of habeas corpus and additionally filed a motion to stay the
circuit court proceedings (on remand from this Court's
2015 decision). In his petition, Oats contends that (1) he
is entitled to have his death sentence vacated pursuant to
Hurst, and (2) regardless, Hurst applies to
cases involving Hall claims, like his, because the
determination of whether a defendant is intellectually
disabled is a fact that must be found by the jury. For
reasons more fully explained below, we conclude that Oats is
not entitled to relief. Accordingly, we deny Oats'
Oats' first claim, we conclude that Oats is not entitled
to Hurst relief because Hurst does not
apply retroactively to Oats' sentence, which became final
in 1985. See Asay v. State, 210 So.3d 1 (Fla. 2016),
petition for cert. filed, No. 16-9033 (U.S. Apr. 29,
2017); see also Oats, 472 So.2d 1143.
we address Oats' claim that the United States Supreme
Court's decision in Hurst v. Florida and this
Court's decision in Hurst require that the jury,
rather than the trial judge, determine intellectual
disability. In granting Oats a new hearing on his claim of
intellectual disability, we concluded:
[T]he circuit court erred in determining that Oats failed to
establish onset of his intellectual disability prior to the
age of 18. The evidence presented to the circuit court in
fact strongly leads to the conclusion that Oats established
both his low IQ and onset of an intellectual disability prior
to the age of 18. However, because the circuit court did not
analyze the remaining prongs, and because neither the circuit
court nor the parties and their experts had the benefit of
Hall, we remand for further proceedings consistent
with this opinion, including providing the parties with an
opportunity to present additional evidence at an evidentiary
hearing to enable a full reevaluation of whether Oats is
Oats, 181 So.3d at 471. Our instruction was clear
that the new intellectual disability hearing should be held
before the trial court.
to section 921.141, Florida Statutes (2016), once a defendant
is convicted of first-degree murder, the minimum sentence is
life imprisonment without parole. See §
921.141(3), Fla. Stat. (2016); Hurst, 202 So.3d at
51. The trial then proceeds to the penalty phase where the
jury ultimately determines whether the defendant ...