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 neighbors 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. Maddies 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
Sheriffs 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 Joshuas 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
Maddies body was not discovered until November 10, 1998,
when Joshuas mother, upset and crying, flagged down
uniformed officers who were doing investigations in the
neighborhood. The officers and Mrs. Phillips went to Joshuas
room and opened the door. There they saw two small feet with
white socks sticking out from the bottom of Joshuas
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 Joshuas 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. Maddies 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. Joshuas father had come home by this time, and,
realizing that Maddies 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 ...