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Taylor v. State

Supreme Court of Florida

April 5, 2018

WILLIAM KENNETH TAYLOR, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF FLORIDA, Appellee.

         NOT FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE REHEARING MOTION AND, IF FILED, DETERMINED.

          An Appeal from the Circuit Court in and for Hillsborough County, Michelle Sisco, Judge - Case No. 292001CF008692000AHC

          Kevin T. Beck of Law Office of Kevin T. Beck, P.A., St. Petersburg, Florida, for Appellant

          Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, Florida, and Christina Z. Pacheco, Assistant Attorney General, Tampa, Florida, for Appellee

          PER CURIAM.

         This case is before the Court on appeal by William Taylor from an order denying a motion to vacate a sentence of death under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.851. Because the order concerns postconviction relief from a sentence of death, this Court has jurisdiction over the appeal under article V, section 3(b)(1) of the Florida Constitution. For the reasons explained below, we affirm the postconviction court's denial of relief.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Taylor was found guilty of first-degree murder of Sandra Kushmer, attempted first-degree murder of William Maddox, robbery with a deadly weapon, robbery with a firearm, and armed burglary of a dwelling. See Taylor v. State (Taylor I), 937 So.2d 590, 596 (Fla. 2006). After the penalty phase, the jury returned a recommendation of death by a vote of twelve to zero. Id. at 597. The trial court found the following aggravating circumstances: "(1) the murder was committed while Taylor was on felony probation; (2) Taylor had previously been convicted of a felony involving a threat of violence to the person; and (3) the murder was committed for pecuniary gain." Id. (citations omitted). Each aggravating circumstance was afforded great weight. Id. The trial court did not find that any statutory mitigators existed, but found thirteen nonstatutory mitigating circumstances. Id. The trial court concluded that the aggravating circumstances outweighed the mitigating circumstances and Taylor was sentenced to death. Id.

         On direct appeal, Taylor raised one guilt phase claim and three penalty phase claims. Id. at 597-601. We denied Taylor's claims and upheld his convictions and sentence of death. Id. at 604. Taylor did not seek certiorari review, and his sentence became final upon expiration of the time to file a petition for writ of certiorari. See Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.851(d)(1)(A).

         On October 9, 2006, Taylor filed a postconviction motion under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.851. Taylor v. State (Taylor II), 87 So.3d 749, 756-57 (Fla. 2012). The postconviction court denied all of Taylor's postconviction claims. Id. at 757. Taylor also filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus. Id. at 753. We affirmed the postconviction court's denial of Taylor's rule 3.851 motion and denied Taylor's petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Id. at 765.

         On January 9, 2017, Taylor filed a successive motion for postconviction relief under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.851. The postconviction court denied Taylor's motion.

         This appeal follows.

         ANALYSIS

         In this successive postconviction motion, Taylor raises two claims: (1) his death sentence violates the Sixth Amendment in light of Hurst v. State (Hurst), 202 So.3d 40 (Fla. 2016), cert. denied, 137 S.Ct. 2161 (2017), and Hurst v. Florida, 136 S.Ct. 616 (2016); and (2) his death sentence violates the Eighth Amendment under Caldwell v. Mississippi, 472 U.S. 320 (1985). These issues ...


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