Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Rogers v. State

Supreme Court of Florida

September 5, 2019

SHAWN ROGERS, 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 Santa Rosa County, John F. Simon, Jr., Judge - Case No. 572017CF000804CFAXMX

          Andy Thomas, Public Defender, and Richard M. Bracey, III, Assistant Public Defender, Second Judicial Circuit, Tallahassee, Florida, for Appellant

          Ashley B. Moody, Attorney General, and Jennifer A. Donahue, Assistant Attorney General, Tallahassee, Florida, for Appellee

          PER CURIAM.

         Shawn Rogers appeals his conviction and death sentence for the first-degree murder of Ricky Dean Martin. We have jurisdiction. See art. V, § 3(b)(1), Fla. Const. For the reasons we explain, we affirm the conviction and sentence.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On March 30, 2012, Shawn Rogers was an inmate at the Santa Rosa Correctional Institution, serving a life sentence for a 2002 conviction for robbery with a firearm and a concurrent fifteen-year sentence for aggravated battery with a firearm arising out of the same incident. That afternoon, Rogers was moved into cell D1-117, where he would become cellmates with another inmate, Ricky Dean Martin. Prior to the move, both Rogers and Martin were asked if they had a problem with the move, and they both indicated that they did not. At 7 p.m. that evening, a routine security check was conducted by corrections staff. Officer Beaudry conducted the check of cell D1-117. At that time, Beaudry saw both Rogers and Martin, Rogers asked Beaudry for the time, and neither inmate indicated that he was having a problem with the other.

         At approximately 7:10 p.m., Officer Givens noticed that many inmates on the wing were being loud and carrying on more than normal. Givens began to walk around to try to determine which inmates were making noise. When Givens arrived at cell D1-117, Rogers was standing at the door and said to Givens, "Hey man. He's cutting himself. Y'all need to get in here and stop him." Rogers was referring to Martin and complaining that Martin was harming himself. Through the window in the cell door, Givens observed Martin lying on the ground with a prayer rug covering his head and most of his body down to his waist. Martin appeared to be lying on his back with his hands behind his back, his elbows slightly protruding from under the rug, and oriented with his feet closest to the door. Givens directed Martin to show his hands and stop cutting himself, but Martin did not respond. Givens could see blood on the floor around Martin and on the walls beside him.

         Based on his training and in an attempt to stop Martin from cutting himself, Givens deployed pepper spray at Martin's exposed elbow through the handcuffing portal in the cell door. In reaction to the spray, Martin rolled onto his side, and Givens could see then that his hands were tied behind his back with white strips of cloth, which were made from a torn bedsheet. Givens then called for assistance, and Rogers, who was cooperative and appeared to be uninjured, was removed from the cell and secured in a shower area, where another inmate observed him drop a small object into the shower drain.

         Once officers entered cell D1-117 and removed the prayer rug from Martin, they observed Martin with a string tied around his neck, hands tied behind his back, feet tied together, pants pulled down, and a pair of boxers over his head. There were bloody handprints on one of the cell walls near his body. Once the boxers were removed from Martin's head, it became apparent that he had severe facial injuries. Martin was unresponsive, and his breathing was becoming increasingly labored, so he was transported to the prison's on-site emergency room.

         At the on-site emergency room, Martin had a seizure, and a registered nurse determined that he appeared to have severe brain damage. Martin was gurgling blood in his mouth and was turned on his side to have the blood suctioned out of his mouth. When Martin was turned on his side, matter or bodily fluids came out of his ear, and the nurse observed that part of one ear was missing. Because of the severity of his injuries, Martin was transported from the prison to a local hospital for further treatment.

         Martin was admitted to the hospital with extensive head injuries, diagnosed with an intracranial hemorrhage, and given a poor prognosis. Martin had no neurological response and was placed on a ventilator due to respiratory failure. Over the next few days, Martin's respiratory condition continued to deteriorate, and he developed pneumonia. Nine days after the attack, Martin was declared brain dead and taken off life support. He was pronounced dead at 11:36 a.m. on April 8, 2012.

         Rogers was subsequently charged in Martin's death with first-degree murder and kidnapping to terrorize or inflict bodily harm. The State provided notice that it intended to seek the death penalty. Rogers demanded a speedy trial and elected to represent himself throughout the guilt phase and for a portion of the penalty phase before electing to be represented by counsel instead.

         During the guilt phase, the medical examiner, Dr. Minyard, testified that an autopsy revealed the cause of Martin's death to be blunt impact to his head and the manner of death to be homicide. Martin had several external injuries to his face and scalp, caused by blunt force trauma, and wounds made by a sharp weapon on his chest and left upper extremity. Martin's brain was severely injured, with subdural hemorrhaging apparent. Dr. Minyard opined that it was possible that Martin's injuries could have been sustained in less than five minutes.

         Rogers chose to testify during the guilt phase and gave his version of the events surrounding the murder. Rogers claimed that when he was transferred into Martin's cell, it was filthy. Rogers started cleaning the cell and "talking shit" to Martin, calling him "a dirty-ass cracker" and "filthy motherfucker," and "cussing him out" "real aggressively." Rogers finished cleaning and got on the top bunk to listen to the radio. When Rogers looked down, he noticed that Martin was cutting himself with some type of razor or sharp, metal object. Rogers believed that Martin felt he needed to get moved out of the cell away from Rogers and was likely cutting in an attempt to get transferred to the medical wing. Rogers jumped down from the top bunk and said to Martin, "What the fuck's wrong with you, man? You're acting like a little bitch." Rogers told Martin that if he did not stop cutting himself, Rogers was going to put his foot in Martin's ass. Martin kept saying, "Oh, I got to get up out of here." At that time, Rogers put a shirt over the window in the cell door. According to Rogers, this is done when inmates want to fight without getting in trouble. Martin then started yelling and making a lot of noise. Rogers threw a combination of three or four punches at Martin, and when Martin fell down, Rogers started kicking him in the face. Rogers stomped Martin's head into the concrete six or seven times. Martin was screaming and yelling like he was in pain during the attack. Rogers said that Martin kept trying to get up and that is how the bloody handprints got on the cell wall. When Martin tried to get up, Rogers knocked him back down and continued to kick him. Rogers described a portion of the attack as follows:

I kicked him in the face and said, [t]his is for Trayvon Martin, motherfucker. I kicked him in the face again and said, [t]his is for Trayvon Martin, motherfucker. I kicked him a third time and said, [t]his is for Trayvon Martin, you pussy-ass fuck boy. I kicked him in the face a fourth time and said, [t]his is for Martin Luther King. I kicked him in the face a fifth time and said, [t]his is for Emmett Till and all the other black people you crackers done killed.

         Rogers said Martin never came at Rogers or had a chance to try to throw a punch at him. Martin was just sitting there when Rogers started beating him and he was helpless to every blow and punch and kick that Rogers delivered. When Rogers realized that Martin was not going to stop trying to get up, he tore up a bedsheet and used the strips of cloth to tie Martin up. Rogers also put cloth in Martin's mouth and "tied his mouth up so he couldn't scream no more." When asked if Martin was still moving and trying to get up while Rogers was tearing the bedsheets, Rogers responded, "Yea. Like - I don't know. I guess like - kind of like when you step on a roach, man. They still be alive, but they still be moving." Rogers described the end of the attack:

By then, he was beat up bad and breathing hard, and I asked all the brothers on the wing, Who wants me to kill this pussy-ass cracker? A lot of them said, Yeah. But my lil' homie Y.O., Steve Young, said, Big Brother, don't kill that cracker just put him on the door. I said, Bro, God going to bless you, Y.O., because I was going to kill this fuck boy on the strength -- I said, Blue Flame Midnight Crip Gang.
Then Mr. Martin's gang brothers started cussing me out and threatening me about what they going to do. Now, I never raped Mr. Martin or slapped him on his ass, but I pretended I did and made the slapping sounds to make his brother -- his gang brothers mad.[[1] And I covered him up with a prayer rug and pulled his pants down to make his gang brothers think that it was real.
Rogers went on to tell the jury:
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, if you're asking yourself if I beat Mr. Martin up about the murder of Trayvon Martin, my honest answer is, you're goddamn right I did, but there was also other factors. When I first met Mr. Martin and looked him in his eyes, I knew all for real what he was all about. He was a straight bitch, a snitch, and an undercover racist. That's the vibe he gave off. I'm from Brooklyn, New York[, ] and been in the streets my whole life, so my instincts are good when it comes to reading people.
And the more I got to learn about Mr. Martin, my suspicions had been confirmed. Mr. Martin is everything I despised in life: A snitch, a coward, and a straight fuck boy. I got no love for [the] dude or no sympathy. I don't feel bad about it. I don't feel no remorse. I'm not losing any sleep over the death of Ricky Martin and neither is anybody else. . . . .
Convicts know how to do time, inmates don't. Ricky Martin was an inmate, a cry baby, a cutter, not even man enough to stand up in his pants for what he claimed he believed in. He would rather tell the police if he got a problem and check-in with protective custody. I would never have no sympathy for no buster like that. . . . .
And I believe in the Midnight Crip Gang to the fullest. I've been A-1 since day one, from Spofford Juvenile Detention Center in New York, to Rikers Island, to Florida State [P]rison. I'm a Midnight Crip, and I would be less of a man to get in front of the jury -- in front of y'all in this situation and pretend that it's anything different while there's brothers in the streets dying and catching life sentences everyday about this blue flag.
When my mom was smoking crack and my pops was nowhere to be found, it was the Crip Gang that took me in. They been my family when I had no family. When I was doing time and didn't have nothing, Crip made sure I had a care package. Some people believe in religion and that's great, but I believe in my gang. And I'm willing to die about that, I'm willing to live about that, and I'm down for whatever. That's what you call true blue.
I said all this because I firmly believe that if you stand for something, you stand firm in your convictions regardless of the consequences. The bottom line is I'm responsible for the death of Ricky Martin. I accept that responsibility, but I also want it noted the negligence, stupidity, and incompetence of the Florida Department of Corrections.
I'm not going to change the way I do my time, and you can ask anybody that knows me, I've been the same way my whole life. I don't change up. I don't flip-flop. You will always know where I stand and what I'm about because I've been thoroughly consistent all these years. Loyalty is all I know.
Society is not made for people like me. Society is full of fake people, fake friendships, fake relationships, fake, but with me, what you see is what you get. There's nothing fake or phony about me. I'm O.G. Jigga Man, Midnight Crip Gang, 103 Eastside Trey'z up, and that's why I can get on this witness stand and look you, ladies and gentlemen, in the face, of the Jury, and tell you that I could care less about Ricky Martin, and I meant everything I said.

         The jury found Rogers guilty as charged of first-degree premeditated murder or felony murder and kidnapping to terrorize or inflict bodily harm.

         At the penalty phase, the State presented records of Rogers' prior felony convictions as well as his own admissions regarding those convictions, which were made during a prior proceeding. When Rogers was a minor, he was convicted as an adult for armed robbery with a firearm of an individual at a train platform. Rogers was also convicted in 2002 of robbery with a firearm and aggravated battery with a firearm for robbing a cab driver, whom he struck with the firearm and knocked out a tooth. The State also presented additional testimony from the medical examiner, Dr. Minyard, regarding the injuries Martin suffered.

         In mitigation, Rogers presented evidence in the form of testimony from eight inmates regarding their interactions with Rogers. The inmates described Rogers as "a humble soul," peaceful, "a straight-up dude" with "a good heart," a good friend who gives advice, encourages them to become educated, to work out, to eat healthy, and lends items to individuals who need them. The inmates considered Rogers a good friend and mentor.

         Rogers also presented testimony from a number of experts: Dr. Marvin Dunn, a community psychologist; Dr. Mark Rubino, a neurologist; Dr. Joseph Wu, a physician who specializes in neuropsychiatric imaging assessments of brain injury; and Dr. Julie Harper, a licensed psychologist. Several of the experts testified regarding Rogers' difficult childhood. Rogers was born in New York City and brought home from the hospital to a housing project. His mother was a drug addict and psychiatrically unstable; he never knew his father. When Rogers was two years old, his mother surrendered him to foster care. From that point, Rogers was placed in various foster homes and group homes, lived off and on with his maternal grandmother, and sometimes was placed back with his own mother. When Rogers was fourteen, he was placed in an inpatient psychiatric care facility. An assessment done at that time indicated that he could be impulsive and distractible with consequent poor judgment, which is consistent with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). He was also diagnosed with conduct disorder at that facility. He has also been diagnosed with major depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, and antisocial personality disorder (ASPD). After being released from the psychiatric facility, Rogers became involved with the department of juvenile justice, into whose custody he kept returning. Before the age of twenty, Rogers had several periods of incarceration in the New York Department of Corrections.

         The experts also testified that Rogers has impulse control problems that are explained by his upbringing and head injuries suffered as a child. Dr. Rubino reviewed a CAT scan of Rogers' brain and opined that Rogers had at least one indication of traumatic brain injury in his frontal temporal region, a right frontal hygroma, and that portions of Rogers' brain, including the frontal lobe, had atrophied. Dr. Rubino said that when a person has an injury to his frontal temporal region, that person can have impulse control problems and loss of judgment and appreciation of consequences. Dr. Wu reviewed a PET scan of Rogers' brain, in which he observed damage to the orbitofrontal areas of the brain, which are important for the regulation of aggressive impulses.

         In rebuttal, the State called Dr. Greg Prichard, a forensic psychologist. Dr. Prichard diagnosed Rogers with ASPD. Dr. Prichard said that individuals with ASPD often have abnormal brain scans. Dr. Prichard testified that Rogers was in an adult prison in New York from the age of seventeen to twenty-one for attempted robbery and within a year of his release, Rogers hit a taxi cab driver in the mouth with a gun during another robbery and received a life sentence for that crime in Florida at age twenty-two in 2002. That same year, Rogers tied up his cellmate and beat him up. In 2005, Rogers again tied up a cellmate and beat him because Rogers said the man "disrespected" him. Rogers told Dr. Prichard that he felt like he beat that cellmate worse than Martin. In 2009, Rogers stabbed another inmate in the head with a knife and kneed another inmate in the face. As evidence of Rogers' ability to plan and premeditate, Dr. Prichard referred to a letter written by Rogers to a predecessor judge in which Rogers admitted that he had decided to kill the next white man he came across. He pointed out that in Rogers' letter to the predecessor judge, Rogers said that he intended to kill Martin in the cell that night and only stopped because another inmate begged him. Rogers bragged in the letter that he is a "ruthless, cold-blooded, cutthroat, gangsta [sic], blood killer, and killer of any and everything that go [sic] against the Crips gang." Rogers also stated that he knows he is a sociopath and that he has no remorse, regard, or regret for anything he has done in his life.

         During the charge conference, the defense made no objections to the aggravating factors, the final jury instructions, or the verdict form. After the instructions were read to the jury, the judge asked if the parties had any objections to the instructions as read, and both parties stated that they did not.

         The jury was instructed that it must "unanimously determine whether the aggravating factors alleged by the State have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt." The jury was instructed to consider the following aggravating factors: (1) that Rogers was previously convicted of a felony and under sentence of imprisonment at the time he committed the murder; (2) that Rogers was previously convicted of felonies involving the use or threat of violence to another person, specifically robbery with a firearm, aggravated battery with a firearm, and attempted robbery; (3) that the murder was committed while Rogers was engaged in the commission of a kidnapping; (4) that the murder was especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel (HAC); and (5) that the murder was committed in a cold, calculated, and premeditated (CCP) manner without any pretense of moral or legal justification. Ultimately, the jury found unanimously that all five aggravating factors were proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The trial court also found that all five aggravators were proven beyond a reasonable doubt and assigned significant weight to aggravator three-the murder was committed while Rogers was engaged in the commission of a kidnapping-and great weight to the other four aggravators.

         The jury was also instructed to consider whether Rogers had established by the greater weight of the evidence the existence of any of the proposed sixty-eight mitigating circumstances. The proposed mitigating circumstances follow with the relevant findings made by the jury and the trial court and any weight assigned by the trial court detailed parenthetically: (1) the capital felony was committed while Rogers was under the influence of extreme mental or emotional disturbance (not found by the jury or court); (2) the capacity of Rogers to appreciate the criminality of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of law was substantially impaired (not found by the jury or court); (3) the age of Rogers at the time of the crime (not found by the jury or court); (4) Rogers suffers from major depression (not found by the jury; found by the court, very little weight); (5) Rogers has a history of multiple head injuries starting as a child (found to exist by jury vote of 10-2; moderate weight); (6) Rogers was born to a crack-addicted mother (not found by the jury or court); (7) Rogers does not know the identity of his father (not found by the jury; found by the court, no weight); (8) Rogers endured maternal abandonment (found by jury vote of 12-0; some weight); (9) Rogers endured paternal abandonment (not found by the jury; found by the court, little weight); (10) Rogers' mother is mentally ill (not found by the jury; found by the court, very little weight); (11) Rogers' mother attempted suicide by jumping off a building with Rogers (not found by the jury; found by the court, little weight); (12) Rogers was emotionally abused and rejected by his mother (found by jury vote of 12-0; some weight); (13) Rogers was rejected by his maternal grandmother (not found by the jury or court); (14) Rogers was born into a dysfunctional family (found by jury vote of 12-0; some weight); (15) Rogers was separated from his biological brother, Christopher, as a toddler (found by jury vote of 9-3; some weight); (16) Rogers was separated from his biological brother, Kevin, who was born cocaine positive and removed at birth (not found by the jury; found by the court, very little weight); (17) Rogers was separated from his biological brother, Sherrod, who was born cocaine positive and removed at birth (not found by the jury; found by the court, very little weight); (18) Rogers was exposed to drugs at an early age by his mother, who made him inject her with drugs (not found by the jury; found by the court, some weight); (19) the death of Rogers' maternal grandmother was traumatic for him (not found by the jury or court); (20) Rogers never received grief counseling after the loss of his grandmother (not found by the jury or court); (21) Rogers has never been shown love or affection (not found by the jury or court); (22) Rogers loves his mother in spite of the maltreatment and neglect by her (not found by the jury; found by the court, very little weight); (23) Rogers loves his brother, Christopher (not found by the jury; found by the court, very little weight); (24) Rogers has empathy for his mother (not found by the jury; found by the court, little weight); (25) Rogers has encouraged his brother to do well (not found by the jury; found by the court, very little weight); (26) Rogers has counseled his brother on the importance of his education (not found by the jury; found by the court, very little weight); (27) Rogers will continue to be a source of emotional support to his brother (not found by the jury or court); (28) Rogers lived on the streets when he was homeless (found by jury vote of 12-0; some weight); (29) Rogers grew up in poverty during developmental years (found by jury vote of 10-2; some weight); (30) Rogers spent his early years in the Marcy Projects in Brooklyn (found by jury vote of 5-7; some weight); (31) Rogers moved to multiple foster homes (found by jury vote of 8-4; some weight); (32) the psychological impact of being placed in foster care (found by jury vote of 9-3; some weight); (33) Rogers experienced inadequate nutrition as a child (not found by the jury or court); (34) Rogers attended at least eight schools by the age of thirteen (found by jury vote of 1-11; very little weight); (35) Rogers witnessed multiple violent acts in his neighborhood (found by jury vote of 10-2; some weight); (36) Rogers was sent to a children's group home, The Children's Village (not found by the jury; found by the court, very little weight); (37) Rogers was moved to another group home, Edwin Gould Academy (not found by the jury; found by the court, very little weight); (38) Rogers was admitted to a children's psychiatric hospital at the age of fourteen (found by jury vote of 12-0; moderate weight); (39) Rogers did not have a stable childhood (found by jury vote of 12-0; some weight); (40) Rogers was exposed to racial tension and discrimination in his life (found by jury vote of 11-1; some weight); (41) Rogers suffers from brain damage (found by jury vote of 1-11; some weight); (42) Rogers suffers from neurological deficits (found by jury vote of 1-11; some weight); (43) Rogers was exposed to acts of violence while in high-security juvenile detention facilities (found by jury vote of 12-0; some weight); (44) Rogers sustained head trauma at age fourteen, when he was hit in the head with a metal pipe or metal chair or both, which resulted in metal fragments being left in his skull while in a juvenile detention facility (found by jury vote of 10-2; some weight); (45) Rogers sustained head trauma and loss of consciousness when he was hit by a car at the approximate age of eight or nine (not found by the jury or court); (46) Rogers seeks to improve his knowledge base by reading articles and news (not found by the jury; found by the court, very little weight); (47) Rogers has spent years in solitary confinement (found by jury vote of 5-7; little weight); (48) Rogers cared for homeless boys on the streets (not found by the jury or court); (49) Rogers has mentored other inmates (not found by the jury; found by the court, very little weight); (50) Rogers has shared food and hygiene products as well as paper, envelopes, and stamps with other inmates (not found by the jury; found by the court, very little weight); (51) Rogers encouraged the relationship between his girlfriend, Chloe Johnson, and her mother (not found by the jury; found by the court, very little weight); (52) Rogers suffers from attachment issues (not found by the jury or court); (53) Rogers suffers from posttraumatic stress disorder (not found by the jury; found by the court, little weight); (54) Rogers has frontal lobe damage (not found by jury; found by court, some weight); (55) Rogers has signs of a presumptive diagnosis of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (not found by the jury; found by the court, some weight); (56) Rogers has suffered concussions (not found by the jury or court); (57) Rogers has neocortex damage (not found by the jury; found by the court, some weight); (58) Rogers has suffered a subdural hematoma as evidenced by a right frontal hygroma (found by jury vote of 2-10; some weight); (59) there is a disparity in Rogers' neuropsychological test, which is found in brain injury and consistent with Rogers' imaging studies (found by jury vote of 10-2; some weight); (60) Rogers is unable to calibrate or modulate his responses as a result of frontal lobe damage (not found by the jury or court); (61) Rogers is unable to conform his behavior due to a significantly compromised neocortex (not found by the jury or court); (62) Rogers suffers brain atrophy (found by jury vote of 2-10; moderate weight); (63) Rogers' judgment and decision-making are impaired (not found by jury or court); (64) Rogers has a lack of impulse control (not found by the jury or court); (65) Rogers cannot appreciate the consequences of his actions (not found by the jury or court); (66) Rogers suffers from racial hypersensitivity (not found by the jury; found by the court, very little weight); (67) Rogers endured institutional failures (found by jury vote of 12-0; some weight); and (68) Rogers was diagnosed with ADHD (not found by the jury; found by the court, little weight).

         The jury was also specifically instructed as follows:

[I]f your verdict is that the defendant should be sentenced to death, your finding that each aggravating factor exists must be unanimous, your finding that the aggravating factors are sufficient to impose death must be unanimous, and your finding that the aggravating factors found to exist outweigh the established mitigating circumstances must be unanimous, and your decision . . . to impose a sentence of death must be unanimous.

         The jury unanimously found that the aggravating factors were sufficient to warrant a death sentence and that those factors outweighed the mitigating circumstances. The jury ultimately and ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.