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Bowles v. State

Supreme Court of Florida

August 13, 2019

GARY RAY BOWLES, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF FLORIDA, Appellee. GARY RAY BOWLES, Petitioner,
v.
MARK S. INCH, etc., Respondent.

          An Appeal from the Circuit Court in and for Duval County, Bruce Rutledge Anderson, Jr., Judge - Case No. 161994CF012188AXXXMA.

          And an Original Proceeding - Habeas Corpus.

          Robert Friedman, Capital Collateral Regional Counsel, and Karin Moore and Elizabeth Spiaggi, Assistant Capital Collateral Regional Counsel, Northern Region, Tallahassee, Florida; and Terri Backhus, Chief, Capital Habeas Unit, Office of the Federal Public Defender, Northern District of Florida, Tallahassee, Florida, for Appellant/Petitioner.

          Ashley Moody, Attorney General, and Charmaine M. Millsaps, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Tallahassee, Florida, for Appellee/Respondent.

          PER CURIAM.

         Gary Ray Bowles, a prisoner under sentence of death and an active death warrant, appeals the postconviction court's order summarily denying his successive motion for postconviction relief filed under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.851. We affirm the denial of relief, and we also deny the petition for a writ of habeas corpus and the motions to stay his execution that Bowles filed in this Court.[1]

         I. BACKGROUND

         Bowles confessed and pleaded guilty to the 1994 murder of Walter Hinton, who had allowed Bowles to move into his home in exchange for Bowles' help in moving personal items. Bowles v. State, 716 So.2d 769, 770 (Fla. 1998). Specifically, Bowles dropped a concrete block on Hinton's head while Hinton was sleeping, then manually strangled a conscious Hinton, and subsequently "stuffed toilet paper into Hinton's throat and placed a rag into his mouth." Id. On direct appeal, this Court affirmed the first-degree murder conviction but remanded for a new penalty phase. Id. On direct appeal of the resentencing (where the jury unanimously recommended death), this Court upheld Bowles' death sentence. Bowles v. State, 804 So.2d 1173, 1175 (Fla. 2002). The resentencing trial court based the prior violent felony aggravator on "two prior similar murders for which the defendant was convicted after the first sentencing hearing" as well as two other prior violent felony convictions. Id. at 1176.

         In 2008, this Court upheld the denial of postconviction relief and denied habeas relief. Bowles v. State, 979 So.2d 182, 184, 194 (Fla. 2008). In so doing, this Court ruled that trial counsel was not ineffective for failing to call an expert to testify regarding mitigation, where the expert had informed counsel that she would have to discuss the "three additional murders that Bowles had committed, which the State was not going to introduce unless the defense opened the door to them." Id. at 187-88. And in 2018, this Court affirmed the denial of Bowles' successive postconviction motion, which he had filed in June 2017, ruling that Hurst[2] does not apply retroactively to Bowles' death sentence. See Bowles v. State, 235 So.3d 292, 292 (Fla. 2018).

         On October 19, 2017, Bowles filed another successive postconviction motion, raising an intellectual disability claim for the first time. Bowles filed the final version of this motion after the governor signed his death warrant on June 11, 2019. Bowles' final motion (entitled "Amended Rule 3.851 Motion for Postconviction Relief in Light of Moore v. Texas, [3] Hall v. Florida, [4] and Atkins v. Virginia[5]") and its appendix noted an IQ test score of 74 as well as prior IQ test scores of 80 and 83. After holding a case management conference, the postconviction court summarily denied Bowles' intellectual disability claim as untimely.

         II. ANALYSIS

         In this Court, Bowles challenges the summary denial of his intellectual disability claim and the denial of certain records requests filed after the governor signed his death warrant. Bowles also filed a habeas petition in this Court, alleging that national death penalty trends demonstrate that his execution would constitute cruel and unusual punishment. We affirm the postconviction court's denial of relief and deny his habeas petition.

         (1) Intellectual Disability

         Bowles first challenges the postconviction court's summary denial of his intellectual disability claim, but ...


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