final until disposition of any timely and authorized motion
under Fla. R. App. P. 9.330 or 9.331.
appeal from the Circuit Court for Duval County. Waddell A.
L. "Rex" Dimmig, II, Public Defender, and Carol J.
Y. Wilson, Assistant Public Defender, Bartow, for Appellant.
Moody, Attorney General, and Benjamin L. Hoffman, Assistant
Attorney General, Tallahassee, for Appellee.
Phillips appeals his sentence of life in prison for a
first-degree murder he committed when he was a juvenile. We
affirm on all issues and write only to address his arguments
that his sentence and the statutory scheme he was sentenced
under violate the Eighth Amendment to the United States
Constitution and article I, section 17 of the Florida
was fourteen years old when he brutally killed an
eight-year-old girl who lived next door to him. In 1999, a
jury convicted him of first-degree murder, and the trial
court sentenced him to life without the possibility of
parole. In affirming the conviction and sentence, the Second
District Court of Appeal[*]outlined the relevant facts of
Maddie Clifton, eight years of age, came home from school at
4:30 p.m. on November 3, 1998, practiced her piano, and then
went outside to play. She first went to the yard of a
sixteen-year-old neighbor and then returned to her own yard.
The neighbor's grandmother could see Maddie in her
driveway and she also saw Joshua Phillips "creeping
up" on Maddie. She watched them for a few moments but
went back into her home after deciding that what she saw was
nothing more than two kids playing together. By 6:20 p.m.
Maddie's mother called her children to dinner, and when
Maddie did not appear, Mrs. Clifton asked some of the
neighbors to look for her daughter, but no one could find
her. By 6:33 p.m. Mrs. Clifton called 911.
That evening several of the neighborhood children, including
Joshua, took part in a search. Witnesses to that event
described Joshua as "acting normal" but looking as
if he had just taken a shower. The next day a Jacksonville
Sheriff's Office detective spoke with Joshua about
Maddie, who stated that he had seen Maddie the day before but
had not played with her. He was not supposed to play with her
because of their age difference. Police searched the
Phillips' storage shed and car after Joshua's father
arrived home, but they found nothing. A couple of days later,
another homicide detective went to the Phillips' home
when only Joshua was present and interviewed Joshua as he sat
on the bed in his room.
Maddie's body was not discovered until November 10, 1998,
when Joshua's mother, upset and crying, flagged down
uniformed officers who were doing investigations in the
neighborhood. The officers and Mrs. Phillips went to
Joshua's room and opened the door. There they saw two
small feet with white socks sticking out from the bottom of
Joshua's waterbed, along with liquid coming from
underneath the bed and tape on the floor. A strong odor
emanated from the room, which was immediately sealed as a
crime scene. One of the detectives then picked up Joshua at
school and took him to the police station.
When Joshua's room was searched the police found several
types of air fresheners, rolls of tape, a baseball bat hidden
behind a dresser, and a Leatherman knife tool. Maddie's
body was under the waterbed with her shirt pulled up and her
panties beneath her.
Joshua confessed to killing Maddie. He claimed that the two
were playing with a baseball in his back yard when he hit the
ball very hard and accidentally struck her near the left eye.
She began to cry and holler, so Joshua, fearful that his
father would be angry at him for playing with the younger
girl, took her into his room. She was bleeding from the gash
and crying loudly, and to keep his father from discovering
her he struck Maddie once or twice in the head. She
whimpered, and when she began to moan more loudly he took his
knife and cut her throat. Then he concealed her body by
prying off the side of his waterbed and pushing Maddie
underneath. Joshua's father had come home by this time,
and, realizing that Maddie's labored breathing was loud
enough for his father to hear in another room, Joshua pulled
the child out and stabbed her in her lungs so that she would
stop breathing. He explained that her shorts and underwear
came off when he dragged her into his room and that her shoes
came off when he shoved her under the bed the second time.
All of this happened because Joshua was afraid of getting in
The State's medical expert testified that Maddie had
suffered three separate attacks. She was struck three times
on her forehead and top of her head, receiving wounds that
would have been fatal about thirty minutes after infliction.
Her neck wounds perforated her windpipe, causing her to bleed
to death or drown in her own blood. Nine stab wounds to her
chest and abdomen were inflicted when she was already dead.
However, Maddie's hand clutched a ...