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Walton v. State

Supreme Court of Florida

May 17, 2018

JASON DIRK WALTON, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF FLORIDA, Appellee. JASON DIRK WALTON, Petitioner,
v.
JULIE L. JONES, etc., Respondent.

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

          An Appeal from the Circuit Court in and for Pinellas County, W. Douglas Baird, Senior Judge - Case No. 521983CF000630XXXXNO And an Original Proceeding - Habeas Corpus

          Neal Dupree, Capital Collateral Regional Counsel, and Bryan E. Martinez, Staff Attorney, Southern Region, Fort Lauderdale, Florida; and Martin J. McClain of McClain & McDermott, P.A., Wilton Manors, Florida, for Appellant/Petitioner

          Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, Florida, and Timothy A. Freeland, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Tampa, Florida, for Appellee/Respondent

          PER CURIAM.

         This case is before the Court on appeal by Jason Walton from an order denying a motion to vacate sentences of death under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.851. Walton also petitions this Court for writ of habeas corpus. We have jurisdiction. See art. V, § 3(b)(1), (9), Fla. Const. For the reasons explained below, we affirm the postconviction court's denial of relief and deny Walton's petition for writ of habeas corpus.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Walton was convicted and sentenced to death for the execution-style murders of three individuals that occurred during the commission of a robbery and burglary. Walton v. Dugger (Walton IV), 634 So.2d 1059, 1060 (Fla. 1993).

On direct appeal, this Court affirmed the convictions but vacated the death sentences because the trial court failed to afford Walton an opportunity to confront two codefendants whose confessions and statements were presented during the penalty phase. See [Walton v. State (Walton I), 481 So.2d 1197');">481 So.2d 1197, ] 1198-1201 [(Fla. 1985)]. The trial court conducted a second penalty phase and the jury again recommended death on all three convictions. See Walton v. State [(Walton II)], 547 So.2d 622, 623 (Fla. 1989).[1] The trial court again imposed the death penalty on all three convictions, and this Court affirmed those sentences on appeal. See id. at 626. The United States Supreme Court denied certiorari review. See Walton v. Florida [(Walton III)], 493 U.S. 1036 (1990).
Walton filed his initial postconviction motion pursuant to Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.850, in which he alleged that trial counsel was ineffective. See Walton [IV], 634 So.2d [at] 1060-61 . . . . After an evidentiary hearing, the trial court denied the motion. See id. Walton appealed that denial to this Court and petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus. See id. This Court initially relinquished jurisdiction to the trial court for resolution of a public records request by Walton. See id. at 1062. On remand, Walton amended his previously filed rule 3.850 motion to add claims based upon information discovered in the public records and newly adduced evidence. See Walton v. State [(Walton V)], 847 So.2d 438, 442-43 (Fla. 2003). One such claim was that trial counsel was ineffective for failure to adequately investigate and prepare for trial. See id. at 442 n.2. The trial court again denied all of Walton's claims. See id. at 443. Walton appealed that denial to this Court and again petitioned this Court for a writ of habeas corpus. See id. This Court affirmed the denial of Walton's postconviction motion and denied habeas relief. See id. at 460. [This Court] also denied a subsequent petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed by Walton pursuant to Ring v. Arizona, 536 U.S. 584 (2002). See Walton v. Crosby, 859 So.2d 516 (Fla. 2003).
Walton thereafter filed a successive postconviction motion pursuant to Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.851. See Walton v. State [(Walton VI)], 3 So.3d 1000, 1002 (Fla. 2009). The trial court summarily denied relief. See id. at 1002. Walton appealed that denial to this Court, and this Court affirmed the order of the postconviction court. See id.

Walton v. State (Walton VII), 77 So.3d 639, 640-41 (Fla. 2011). In 2010, Walton filed a second successive motion for postconviction relief pursuant to rule 3.851. Id. at 641. The postconviction court denied Walton's motion. See id. at 642. This Court affirmed the order of the postconviction court. Id. at 644.

         On May 7, 2015, Walton filed a third successive postconviction motion asserting that he should either be resentenced to life or receive a new penalty phase due to the fact that his codefendant, Richard Cooper, was resentenced to life based on a cumulative review of the evidence. On December 28, 2015, the postconviction court denied Walton's motion. On March 7, 2016, Walton filed a notice of appeal to this Court. On September 16, 2016, this Court relinquished jurisdiction to allow for rehearing. On October 4, 2016, the postconviction court granted rehearing.

         On June 20, 2016, Walton filed a fourth successive postconviction motion, [2]asserting that changes in Florida's capital sentencing law are part of the cumulative review of newly discovered evidence. On January 13, 2017, the postconviction court denied Walton's motion. This appeal follows.

         Additionally, on June 8, 2017, Walton filed a petition for habeas relief. This Court stayed the proceedings on September 15, 2017, and then, on September 27, 2017, issued an order for Walton to show cause why Hitchcock v. State, 226 So.3d 216 (Fla.), cert. denied, 138 S.Ct. 513 (2017), does not control.

         ANALYSIS

         We affirm the postconviction court's denial of relief for ...


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