WF, born 2/9/69, was sentenced from Volusia County
on 9/13/90 for the 10/20/89 shooting murders of two men she involved
in a murder for money scheme. She was videotaped shooting one of the
men by her co-defendant Kosta Fotopoulos, her former boss and lover.
She plead guilty. She was resentenced to life on May 7, 1998. She is
at Homestead Correctional Institution.
In 1989, Deidre hunt was a slim 20-year-old
bartender working at Top Shots, a Daytona Beach pool hall owned by
Kosta Fotopoulos. Kosta was 30 and married to Lisa Fotopoulos, the
owner of several lucrative businesses. Though he was tired of Lisa,
Kosta didn't want to leave her -- that would mean losing out on her
Instead, Kosta began an affair with Deidre.
Together the two lured Kevin Ramsey, 19, to a shooting range, telling
him he would be inducted into a club. Ramsey, who also worked at Top
Shots, had been demanding more money and threatening to expose Kosta's
counterfeit money scheme. Saying he'd kill her if she didn't comply,
Kosta videotaped as Deidre tied Kevin to a tree and shot him three
times in the chest with a .22 pistol. Then, with the camera still
rolling, she ran up to the tree and shot him point-blank in the
When Lisa found out that her husband was cheating
on her with the young and spunky Deidre and threatened to leave him,
Kosta decided he had no choice but to kill her. Using the tape as
blackmail, Kosta convinced Deidre to hire someone to kill Lisa.
Enticed by the promise of a cut of Lisa's $700,000 insurance policy,
18-year-old Bryan Chase agreed to do the job. On the agreed-upon
night, Chase entered the Fotopoulos home and shot Lisa once in the
head as she lay in bed. Kostas, never intending to pay Chase a cent,
sat up in the bed and shot Chase multiple times, killing him.
Kostas and Deidre were both sentenced to death.
Deidre, 21 at the time of her trial, wept as the judge announced her
fate: to die in Florida's electric chair. In 1998, her sentence was
reduced to life in prison. Now 43, she maintains a website seeking pen
pals. Kostas remains on death row, where he continues to appeal for a
reduced sentence. Lisa survived the shooting but the bullet remains
lodged in her head. She has since remarried.
Circumstances of Offense:
summer of 1989, Konstantinos Fotopoulos began having an extra-marital
affair with a bartender, Deidre Hunt, who worked at his bar.
Fotopoulos and Hunt lured Kevin Ramsey to an isolated shooting range
by telling him he was to be inducted into a club. Fotopoulos intended
to kill Ramsey to prevent Ramsey from blackmailing him [Fotopoulos]
concerning counterfeiting activities. Fotopoulos threatened Hunt that
he would kill her if she did not kill Ramsey.
tied to a tree, and Hunt shot Ramsey three times in the chest and once
in the head with a .22 pistol, while Fotopoulos videotaped the
shooting. Fotopoulos stopped taping and shot Ramsey once in the head
with an AK-47 assault rifle.
then conspired to kill his wife, Lisa Fotopoulos, in order to collect
$700,000 in insurance proceeds. Fotopoulos used the videotape of Hunt
killing Ramsey in order to get Hunt’s cooperation in the murder of
instructed Hunt to hire someone to kill Lisa Fotopoulos. Hunt
attempted to hire a man on two occasions, but the plan never
materialized. A friend of Hunt’s, Lisa Henderson, led Hunt to
her boyfriend, Teja James, who was hired to kill Lisa Fotopoulos for
botched two attempts to kill Lisa Fotopoulos, Bryan Chase was hired to
kill Lisa. After several unsuccessful attempts, Chase went to the
Fotopoulos home on 11/04/89 and shot Lisa Fotopoulos once in the head,
but the wound was not fatal.
then shot Chase repeatedly, to make the murder attempt appear to be a
failed burglary. In a search of the Fotopoulos home by police, the
Ramsey murder videotape, a .22 pistol, and an AK-47 assault rifle were
Deidre Hunt was
indicted for the same crimes as Fotopoulos, but pled guilty to the
charges and was sentenced to death for the murders of Ramsey and
Chase. On appeal, however, her convictions were affirmed but her
death sentences were vacated. Before her retrial, Hunt was allowed to
withdraw her guilty verdict and proceed to trial. The jury returned
guilty verdicts on all charges. On 05/07/98, Hunt was sentenced to
two terms of life imprisonment.
Deidre Hunt Won't Return To Death Row
At Trial, She Got A Life Sentence In The Slayings
Of Two Teenagers In A Daytona Beach Murder-for-hire Plot
Purvette A. Bryant - OrlandoSentinel.com
May 8, 1998
ST. AUGUSTINE -
Deidre Hunt, who has spent almost eight years on Florida's death row
for killing two teenagers caught up in a murder-for-hire plot, walked
out of a St. Augustine courtroom Thursday to spend the rest of her
life in prison.
Hunt escaped the
death penalty in a case that allowed her to withdraw her 1990 guilty
plea and stand trial for the 1989 shooting deaths of Kevin Ramsey, 19,
and Bryan Chase, 18, both of Daytona Beach.
Circuit Judge Ed
Sanders sentenced Hunt to life in prison with a chance for parole in
25 years for Chase's and Ramsey's deaths.
sentenced the former cocktail waitress to life without parole for her
other convictions, including conspiracy to commit first-degree murder,
solicitation to commit first-degree murder, attempted first-degree
murder and burglary of a dwelling while armed.
In 1989, Hunt
and her ex-lover, Boardwalk businessman Kosta Fotopoulos, plotted to
kill Fotopoulos' wife, Lisa, for $700,000 in life insurance.
Hunt's attorney, held Hunt in her arms as she heard the first two
sentences that spared her the electric chair. Hunt maintained that
Fotopoulos threatened to kill her and her family if she didn't help
kill his wife.
courtroom, Haughwout said she was pleased with the sentence but will
appeal Hunt's convictions.
members of the victims attended the hearing. Hunt's mother, Carol
Hunt, 53, showed no emotion but held her crying mother, Alma Hunt.
hearing, Carol Hunt, who testified that she suffered from a mental
disorder, said she felt no relief over her daughter's life sentence
and claimed ''total defeat for the mentally ill.''
argued that she suffered from an abusive childhood and was insane when
she shot Ramsey three times in the chest and once in the head while he
stood tied to a tree.
now Lisa Psaros, said Thursday Hunt ''got what she deserved.'' During
a staged burglary Nov. 4, 1989, Chase shot her once in the head while
she slept. Hunt had hired Chase to carry out the slaying by promising
with a bullet still lodged in her head. Chase was gunned down by Kosta
Fotopoulos who had planned to kill him all along.
''As long as she
sits in jail for the rest of her life that's fine with me,'' Psaros
said. ''She deserves the death penalty."
Kevin Ramsey's mother, said the sentence is what she expected, but not
what she wanted.
wanted the death penalty, but I really didn't think she'd get it,''
said Renshaw of Wilmington, N.C. ''I had that feeling.''
Kevin's brother, said the life sentence was ''too good'' for Hunt.
enough that they killed Kevin, but to tie him to a tree?'' said
Ramsey, 28. ''If I was gonna shoot a stray dog that tore up my flower
bed I wouldn't tie him to a tree and shoot him ... [with Kevin) you're
talking about a human being.''
Carol Seel, and stepfather, Russell Seel, couldn't be reached for
comment. Assistant State Attorney Rick Ridgway, who prosecuted the
case, said the judge gave his decision a lot of thought.
controversial case took several twists and turns including a $5,000
deal her former attorney, Peter Niles, made with a tabloid TV show A
Current Affair months before he urged her to plead guilty to the
As a result, the
Florida Supreme Court overturned Hunt's death sentence in 1995 and
allowed her to withdraw her guilty plea. Hunt demanded a trial.
she hopes Hunt's case will draw attention to the effects of being
raised by a mentally ill parent.
been very scarred and very affected by that,'' Haughwout said. ''I'm
not sure she looks to next week. She can live in the moment. But, I
don't know that she has the ability, at this point, to look to the
rest of her life.''
Verdicts For Hunt For All Her Deadly Deeds
By Purvette A.
Bryant - The Orlando Sentinel
April 24, 1998
ST. AUGUSTINE —
Deidre Hunt wasn't insane the night she fatally shot a Daytona Beach
teenager, or when she hired a killer to shoot her boyfriend's wife to
collect insurance money, a jury decided Thursday.
cocktail waitress, who was captured on videotape brazenly firing three
bullets into 19-year-old Kevin Ramsey's chest and one into his head,
was convicted of his murder and the death of Bryan Chase, 18.
The two men were
involved in a bungled murder-for-hire scheme Hunt and her lover,
Boardwalk businessman Kosta Fotopoulos, orchestrated in 1989.
A 12-member jury
also found Hunt, 29, guilty of conspiracy to commit first-degree
murder, two counts of solicitation to commit first-degree murder, two
counts of attempted first-degree murder and burglary of a dwelling
while armed. The jury reached its verdict after hearing six days of
testimony and deliberating for a day-and-a-half.
the verdicts were announced, defense attorney Carey Haughwout locked
arms with her client and clutched her hand. Hunt showed no emotion but
hung her head while a clerk read the unanimous decision in a St.
of Wilmington, N.C., nodded in approval when "guilty" was announced in
the death of her son, Kevin Ramsey.
attended the trial with her husband, Terry, quickly wiped away tears
of relief. The couple later left the courtroom without comment.
Carol Ann Hunt of New Hampshire, showed no emotion. Haughwout and
prosecutor Rick Ridgway also had no comment outside the courtroom.
phase to decide whether Hunt will receive life in prison or the death
penalty will begin at 9 a.m. Wednesday before Volusia Circuit Judge Ed
Sanders at the St. Johns County Courthouse.
In 1989, Hunt
and Kosta Fotopoulos plotted to kill his wife, Lisa Fotopoulos, for
$700,000 in insurance money. After several failed attempts on Lisa
Fotopoulos' life, Hunt finally convinced Chase to shoot Fotopoulos
while she slept in her bed.
early-morning hours of Nov. 4, 1989, Chase entered the Fotopoulos
house during a staged burglary, shot Lisa Fotopoulos once in the head
and was then riddled with bullets by Kosta Fotopoulos, who had planned
to kill Chase all along.
now Lisa Psaros, survived the attack. She sat in the St. Augustine
courtroom with the bullet still lodged in her brain. Psaros, her
husband, Komis Psaros, and her brother, Dino Paspalakis, smiled in
approval at the verdicts.
"I'm glad that
justice was done, I'm glad it's finally over and I can get on with my
life now," Lisa Psaros said outside the courthouse.
deserves the electric chair, it's her."
In 1990, Hunt
pleaded guilty to the slayings and was sentenced to death. She was
allowed to withdraw her guilty plea in 1995 when the Florida Supreme
Court decided her former attorney, Peter Niles, had improperly sold
her story, "Deadly Deidre," to the TV show A Current Affair for
Deidre Hunt -
Deadly Or A Victim?
The 12 Jurors
Will Resume Their Deliberations Today In St. Augustine In Her Murder
By Purvette A. Bryant - The Orlando Sentinel
April 23, 1998
ST. AUGUSTINE —
In the eyes of prosecutors, Deidre Hunt saw a free ride to luxury when
she helped her boyfriend plot his wife's murder nine years ago.
attorneys, however, contend the cocktail waitress known as "Dee" was a
victim who couldn't escape an abusive relationship that locked her
into a spiral of torment and pain.
After more than
six hours of deliberations Wednesday night, a 12-member jury hadn't
decided what it believes in the case that drew national attention
because Hunt was videotaped executing a teenager.
So jurors will
return to a St. Augustine courtroom today to decide whether Hunt, 29,
is guilty of two counts of first-degree murder in the 1989 shooting
deaths of Kevin Ramsey, 19, and Bryan Chase, 18, two Daytona Beach
teenagers involved in a murder-for-hire scheme. Jurors also must
return verdicts on her other charges: attempted murder, burglary and
conspiracy to commit murder. The trial was scheduled after the Florida
Supreme Court invalidated Hunt's prior plea bargain.
In 1989, Hunt
and her lover, Boardwalk businessman Kosta Fotopoulos, conspired to
kill Fotopoulos' wife, Lisa Fotopoulos, for $700,000 in insurance
money. The lovers met while Hunt worked as a cocktail waitress at Top
Shots, a billiards bar Fotopoulos owned.
three-week trial, jurors heard from the defense that Fotopoulos had
wooed Hunt with gifts and promises, then tightened his grip on her
life with death threats, fear and control.
And they heard
prosecutors explain how Hunt willingly worked with her lover, with
hopes of sharing the insurance money and taking Lisa Fotopoulos' place
in his life.
trial, Hunt's defense has been that she was a battered woman who
couldn't escape his control. A defense mental-health expert testified
she was insane when she shot and killed Ramsey, who was tied to a tree
and executed under the watchful eye of a video camera.
closing arguments painted two different pictures of Hunt's emotional
state when the murders were committed.
Ridgway told the jury that Fotopoulos was a dangerous man. Ridgway
didn't dispute that Hunt had a traumatic childhood filled with
emotional and physical abuse.
But those facts
don't excuse her actions the night she faced Kevin Ramsey and fired
three bullets into his chest while he was tied to the tree, Ridgway
didn't force her to hire Bryan Chase or literally to beg him to kill
Lisa Fotopoulos when the cocktail waitress knew that Chase would be
shot to death when the job was completed, Ridgway said.
She even told
investigators in a videotaped confession: "I knew that boy wasn't
coming out alive," the prosecutor said in his case summary.
clearly a conspiracy by Deidre Hunt to achieve the death of Lisa
Fotopoulos," Ridgway said. "She's as guilty of that crime as if she'd
done it herself."
early-morning hours of April 4, 1989, Chase entered the Fotopoulos
home in Daytona Beach and shot Lisa Fotopoulos in the head while she
slept. Chase was killed when Kosta Fotopoulos sat up in bed and
returned fire, but the wife survived her wound.
Hunt's claim that she feared Kosta Fotopoulos is actually a sign of
good mental health - because it shows she was able to deduce he had a
anytime you think you can kill another human being and get away with
it," Ridgway said. "Is that insanity? No. A lot of people have
traumatic childhoods. A lot of people grow up in bad circumstances."
arguments for the defense focused on Hunt's state of mind when she
killed Ramsey and hired Chase. Defense attorney Carey Haughwout said
the fear, intimidation and control Fotopoulos inflicted upon Hunt
turned her into a puppet who obeyed his every command.
Fotopoulos is in
prison on a death sentence. He didn't attend Hunt's murder trial,
Haughwout told jurors. But, his presence, the presence of evil,
permeated the courtroom, she said.
"Can't you hear
him," Haughwout told the jury. "Can't you hear his voice?"
described the mind-set that Fotopoulos had when he courted Hunt to
find out her needs and what frightened her. When the pair met, Hunt
was homeless and had no money.
her feel special, so she was a prime candidate for his evil scheme,
that's been here with us is evil," Haughwout said. "It's an evil that
pervades the body and an evil that controls the mind. It's an evil
that can capture the soul.
"We know he[
Kosta Fotopoulos) is capable of murder. Is it hard to believe he's
capable of owning this young girl?"
Hunt's state of
mind was so warped and weakened by Fotopoulos that she didn't realize
the consequences of her actions, Haughwout said.
In the end,
Haughwout asked jurors not to treat her client with kid gloves or be
sympathetic to her cause.
"We just ask
that you be fair," Haughwout said.
See Tape Of Killing
But It Was
Deidre Hunt's Attorney Who Showed The Infamous Video In Court.
By Purvette A.
Bryant - The Orlando Sentinel
April 15, 1998
ST. AUGUSTINE —
Deidre Hunt rapidly fired three bullets into Kevin Ramsey's body from
nearby, raced to a tree where he stood, held up his head and pulled
the trigger - point-blank at his temple. And it took place while a
video camera was rolling.
That was the
substance of a well-known videotape that was shown to jurors Tuesday
in a St. Augustine courtroom, where Hunt's murder trial is being held
before a jury that's unfamiliar with the case.
But it wasn't
the prosecution that played the key evidence in the trial of the
former cocktail waitress, who is accused of first-degree murder in the
deaths of Ramsey and another Daytona Beach teenager.
Instead, it was
Hunt's attorney, Carey Haughwout, who in a tactical move beat
prosecutors to the punch when she showed the tape during her opening
lawyer's move took Assistant State Attorney Richard Ridgway and
Volusia-based Circuit Judge Ed Sanders by surprise. Sanders called a
five-minute recess to confer with another judge about the tactic
before allowing Haughwout to show the videotaped slaying - without
sound - to jurors.
not talk to the media, but her tactics seemed to be aimed at trying to
decrease the impact the tape might have if prosecutors were the first
ones to show it to the 12 jurors and two alternates.
Jurors showed no
emotion as they viewed the tape.
Hunt, 29, is on
trial in connection with the 1989 deaths of Ramsey, 19, and Bryan
Chase, 18, who were involved in a bungled murder-for-hire scheme that
sought to kill Lisa Fotopoulos, wife of Boardwalk businessman Kosta
Hunt was Kosta Fotopoulos' mistress and worked for him at Top Shots,
his billiards bar. Under the prosecution's theory of the crime,
Fotopoulos wanted his wife out of the way to gain about $700,000 in
insurance money, plus her portion of another family business.
Hunt wanted to
see the wife dead so that she could take her place in Kosta
During the week
from Oct. 31, 1989, through Nov. 4, 1989, about six attempts were made
on Lisa Fotopoulos' life, police said.
statements, Haughwout told jurors that Fotopoulos pointed an AK-7
assault rifle at Hunt and forced her to shoot Ramsey while he
videotaped his slaying in the woods. He told her she needed to kill
someone to prove that she could hire Lisa's killer, Haughwout said.
fear and mind games to control and dominate Hunt, a young woman who
had moved to Daytona Beach from the Boston area.
"There was no
getting away from Kosta Fotopoulos," Haughwout said. "Lisa will tell
you that. Lisa will tell you."
referred to the early morning of Nov. 4, 1989, when Chase entered the
Fotopoulos home during a staged burglary and shot Lisa Fotopoulos once
in the head before his gun jammed.
Kosta Fotopoulos, who had planned to kill Chase all along, sat up in
bed and emptied his gun into the teen, killing him, police said.
survived the attack, divorced and remarried. Kosta Fotopoulos has been
convicted and sentenced to death.
In 1990, Hunt
pleaded guilty to the slayings. But she was allowed to withdraw her
plea in 1995 when the Florida Supreme Court determined Peter Niles,
her attorney during the plea negotiations, had improperly sold her
story, "Deadly Deidre" to the tabloid TV show A Current Affair.
In his opening
statements Tuesday, Ridgway described Hunt as a drifter who had no
money and engaged in sex with men who paid her hotel tab. When she and
Fotopoulos became lovers, he soon shared his plans to kill his wife.
"She joins in
with that plan," Ridgway told jurors. "She has to prove that she's
capable of killing someone. She has to do it on video so that Kosta
can have some insurance. They find someone[ Ramsey) who will be
In reality, the
prosecutor said, Fotopoulos wanted Ramsey dead because Ramsey knew
Fotopoulos funneled counterfeit money and had threatened to blackmail
opening statements, the first witness that prosecutors called was Lisa
Fotopoulos, now Lisa Psaros.
Psaros said she
was asleep when Chase shot her in the head. She awoke to the loud
noise the gun made and excruciating pain near her forehead.
Psaros said Hunt
once approached her at Top Shots and asked what it was like to be
things like, 'Are those real diamonds?'" Psaros testified. "'Is that
Gucci bag real?' It seemed like she wanted to be me. It wasn't like
she was just admiring me."
A Plot Hatched in Hell
“For a plot hatched in hell, do not expect angels for
witnesses.” ~ Robert Perry
were mounting in 1989 for Konstantinos “Kosta” Fotopoulos, but the
Florida pool hall owner had what he thought was a foolproof plan to
wrap up all of his difficulties into a single package that would make
everything go away.
all, there was the unwelcome attention the 28-year-old Greek immigrant
was receiving from the United States Secret Service. In 1987, Kosta
bought $100,000 in counterfeit $100 bills and had been passing them
around the southeast United States. The feds had identified him as a
“person of interest” and he felt it was just a matter of time before
they accumulated enough evidence for an indictment.
Complicating that situation was Kevin Ramsey, a 19-year-old
ex-employee in Kosta’s pool hall, Top Shots, who was dropping hints
about blackmailing Kosta with his knowledge of Kosta’s counterfeiting
was Fotopoulos’s failing marriage with his wife, Lisa.
inherited a small fortune when her father died and was successfully
building the family’s boardwalk business, Joyland Amusement Center, in
Daytona Beach. Kosta was about $20,000 in debt in October 1989 and
reliant on his wife’s largess to avoid bankruptcy and the loss of his
discovered that Kosta was having an affair with 20-year-old Deidre
Hunt, a bartender at Top Shots, she demanded that he end the affair
and fire Deidre.
admit his faithlessness and accede to his wife’s ultimatum, Kosta
denied that he was having the affair. That denial made little sense to
Lisa, who had nearly wrecked her car chasing Kosta as he left Deidre’s
apartment — a love den he was renting.
subsequently announced that she was going to seek a divorce. She
reminded him on a daily basis that he would receive nothing when the
and declarations struck at the heart of Kosta’s oversized ego and
forced him to take action.
fact that it represented a violation of his marital vows, Kosta’s
relationship with Deidre Hunt was bad for a number of reasons. Kosta
was abusive both mentally and physically.
however, this was par for the course. Back home in New Hampshire,
Deidre’s mother had been diagnosed with several mental illnesses,
including multiple personality disorder with 11 distinct
personalities. A high school dropout, Lisa had been the victim of
sexual abuse when she left home and headed to Daytona Beach to start a
new life after serving a six-month sentence for participating in an
like many undereducated and disadvantaged teens, Deidre found that
starting over was not as easy as it sounded. When she wandered into
the Top Shots looking for work, she was homeless. Her history and her
desperation made her an easy target for a manipulator like Kosta.
course of the police investigation of Fotopoulos, authorities came to
believe that Kosta inflicted “ritualistic torture on Hunt by cutting
her with razors, sucking her blood, throwing knifes, burning her with
cigarettes and an iron, poking her with needles, and threatening her
with a gun.”
later court hearing after Fotopoulos’s plan fell apart, the prosecutor
in his case summed up how Kosta treated his mistress.
“a pattern of intimidation and terror inflicted upon the witness to
terrorize her and break down her will ultimately and obtain complete
control of her,” the State of Florida alleged. “They had an impact on
[Hunt], in effect, paralyzed her, stopped her from feeling she could
go to anyone or talk to anyone or escape from the circumstances, and
that she had a growing paranoia that [Fotopoulos] had utter control of
her life and she could not escape.”
of Kosta’s treatment of Deidre was that when the time came to start
killing, he had a willing accomplice.
20, 1989, Kosta, Deidre and Kevin Ramsey drove out to a remote
shooting range where Ramsey believed he was going to be inducted into
an ultra-secret “Hunter-Killer Club.” Kosta had managed to convince
Ramsey that he was a contract assassin who worked for the mob and for
the CIA and that by joining the Hunter-Killer Club, Ramsey would also
become a hitman. Kosta claimed to have killed eight people.
later told police that she had gone with Kosta that night intending to
be initiated into the club, as well. While Kosta and Deidre unloaded a
.22 rifle and an AK-47 from the trunk of Kosta’s car, Ramsey was told
to scout ahead to make sure there was no one around. According to
Deidre, it was at that time that Kosta told her that at most two
people would be making the return trip that night. He told her that if
she wanted to make it through the night, she would have to kill
prospective killers caught up with Ramsey and Kosta explained how the
ritual would proceed. In addition to the weapons, Kosta carried a
camcorder that would document the initiation. Each of the members of
the club would commit a murder that would be videotaped. The tapes
would be exchanged among the members as “insurance” to prevent anyone
from going to the police in the future.
remote clearing, Kosta told Deidre to tie Kevin to a nearby tree.
Possibly believing that this part of the ritual to prove his trust,
Kevin was silent when Kosta started the videotape.
57-second tape is shocking in its brutality. The tape opens with a
single flashlight shining on the face of Deidre Hunt, who stands a few
yards away from the tree where Ramsey stands facing her, his arms
wrapped behind him and tied.
voice, later positively identified as Kosta’s utters a single word:
shine it in my eyes,” Ramsey says.
widens so that Deidre and Kevin can both be seen, the flashlight
bathing the scene in an eerie glow. Deidre points a .22-caliber
handgun at Ramsey and with just a little pause, pulls the trigger
three times, a quick double-tap and follow-up shot all hitting Ramsey
in the chest.
one of his legs and groans.
says. Then he slumps forward, the ropes holding him up.
walks up to the unconscious teen, grabs him by the hair and fires a
fourth shot into his temple.
turning off the video recorder, Kosta picked up his AK-47 and fired a
single 7.62mm full-metal jacketed slug into Kevin’s head to ensure he
teen’s body to the forces of nature, Kosta and Deidre left the woods
and returned to Daytona Beach.
part of Kosta’s plan came off like clockwork. Not only had Kosta rid
himself of Kevin Ramsey, who had courted death by trying to blackmail
him, he had his own extortion material to hold over Deidre Hunt. Kosta
intended to use that leverage to get Deidre to help assassinate his
* * *
rays of sunshine were just beginning to turn the black skies to navy
blue over the horizon on November 4, 1989 when 18-year-old Bryan Chase
cut through the screen of a first-floor window in the home shared by
Kosta and Lisa Fotopoulos.
a .22-caliber automatic, Chase skulked through the silent house to
where Kosta and Lisa lay sleeping. Acting on the promise of a $5,000
payoff from Kosta, Chase, a troubled teen who spent his days loitering
with the beach bums on the Daytona Beach arcade, was making his third
attempt in as many days to kill Lisa. The previous attempts had failed
when he was frightened off by neighbors and when he showed up at the
home without a knife to cut the window screen.
angry confrontation earlier in the day with Kosta, Bryan managed to
avoid the neighbors and enter the house without being seen. Entering
the Fotopoulos’s bedroom, he could make out Lisa and Kosta sleeping.
Bryan edged close to Lisa’s side of the bed, pointed the automatic at
her head and fired. The bullet entered Lisa’s forehead and, as bullets
sometimes do, skidded from one side of her skull to the other, hugging
the bone and coming to rest above her left eye.
Miraculously, the shot not only failed to kill Lisa, it did only minor
damage to her brain. Bryan squeezed the trigger a second time, but the
weapon had jammed and no shot was fired.
Then it was
time for Kosta’s part. Reaching beneath the bed, he pulled out a 9mm
SIG-Sauer P226 and blew Bryan Chase away. The teenage, would-be hitman
died on the floor of the bedroom.
call revealed just the right mixture of fear, adrenaline and panic
that a homeowner who is forced to shoot an intruder would have.
preliminary determination by the police was just what Kosta had hoped:
Lisa was shot by a burglar who was in turn killed by Kosta. The plan
hadn’t worked perfectly, of course. Lisa was still alive, but that was
a problem for another day. As she lay in her hospital bed — doctors
would be unable to remove the bullet for fear of causing more damage —
Lisa told police what she remembered about the attack.
had started normally, she said, with Kosta heading out to the backyard
to bury a large black bag just before they retired for the night. Lisa
said she didn’t consider that unusual because Kosta was a conspiracy
“nut” who was constantly burying this or that.
the police about the pending divorce.
thing she knew, she was awakened by a searing pain in her head and
Kosta was talking on the phone to police, telling them that he had
killed an intruder in his home.
Kosta and Deidre were discussing the possibility to delivering a bomb
hidden in a bouquet of flowers to hospital.
to die,” Deidre later told prosecutors. “She just had to die.”
Back at the
scene of the crime, investigators were beginning to question whether
Chase’s death wasn’t part of a larger plan. Lisa had mentioned a
curious incident that occurred about a week before when a young man
attempted to rob her at the Joyland Amusement Center. Armed with a
pistol, the man tried to force Lisa into a small, windowless room at
the arcade, but she escaped by darting between his legs. The would-be
robber fled without taking anything.
the clues, police noted that Bryan managed to cut through the one
window on the ground level that was not connected to an alarm system.
They also questioned why a burglar would shoot a sleeping woman yet
not fire at the homeowner with a gun.
burglar, Chase was unconvincing. Police noted that he had to walk past
an expensive stereo system and the bedrooms of Lisa’s mother and
brother before reaching her bedroom.
closing the case, investigators decided to look a little deeper.
have to look very hard.
newspapers broke the story of how Kosta had killed an intruder in his
home, 20-year-old Mike Cox, a friend of Deidre Hunt and Bryan Chase,
was on the phone that day to police. He told investigators how Deidre
had introduced him to Kosta who offered him $10,000 to kill his wife.
Cox was convinced that he would have ended up like Chase.
this information, the Daytona Beach police brought Deidre in for an
interview. Over the course of two hours, Deidre told everything she
knew, including how Kevin Ramsey was killed.
revealed that Lisa had been targeted by hitmen five times over the
past several weeks but that every attempt had failed. Kosta had wanted
her murdered at a Halloween party, but the crowd scared off that
would-be killer and another time the hitman’s car would not start,
throwing a wrench into the plan to stage a car accident and kill her
curiosity, the police dug up the black bag Kosta buried the night of
Chase’s attack. Inside it was the AK-47 and .22 used to kill Kevin
quickly arrested Kosta Fotopoulos and after Deidre led authorities to
Ramsey’s remains, she and Kosta were charged with two counts of first
degree murder and numerous conspiracy charges.
already-bizarre case still had a few surprises left, however.
the damning videotape, Deidre decided to throw herself on the mercy of
the court and in May 1990, she withdrew her not guilty plea and
pleaded guilty to two capital murder charges. The judge agreed to hold
off on the penalty phase until after she testified against Kosta. By
cooperating, Deidre hoped to avoid a date with Old Sparky, Florida’s
prosecutor reiterated that the State was in no way waiving its intent
to seek the death penalty, that there had been no backroom
negotiations and no understanding that the State would not seek the
death penalty,” the Florida Supreme Court would write later. “Hunt’s
attorney explained that he had discussed the plea at length with Hunt
and that they both agreed that ‘this plea and her offer to testify and
cooperate in view of the facts and circumstances is really the only
sensible and logical choice under this scenario.’”
Kosta’s trial grew nearer, Deidre balked at testifying and the state
moved ahead with its sentencing hearing. Over the course of several
days, the judge listened to mitigating and aggravating testimony about
whether Deidre was a blood-thirsty, ice-in-the-veins killer or an
abused and emotionally troubled young woman.
highlight of the sentencing hearing was when Deidre’s mother took the
stand and said that she did not want her daughter to get the death
penalty, but, shrugging her shoulders as if writing off a lost bauble,
Carol Hunt added, “if it happens, it happens.”
time came, Deidre took responsibility for her acts and expressed
before the judge in an orange jail jumpsuit, quivering with nervous
energy, repeatedly wiping her palms on her clothes. Then for 13
minutes, Deidre told her side of things.
responsibility for my actions but I was a non-willing participant in
these crimes,” she said tearfully. She maintained that Kosta had left
her no choice. “If I had not done it, I would have died at the hands
of Kosta Fotopoulos.”
Kevin Ramsey was the “most disgusting, repulsive scene I ever saw in
my life,” she said. “But I chose life, even with the horror, terror,
fear and pain, and disgusting and degrading torture at this man’s
the families of Ramsey and Chase, Deidre apologized.
“I want to
express my sympathy and total compassion for what you’ve been exposed
was unmoved and sentenced her to death twice.
nothing left to lose, Deidre testified against Kosta, who was also
convicted and sentenced to death.
murder-for-hire plot always generates press, and the freakish case of
Deidre Hunt and Konstantinos Fotopoulos attracted the worst. Throw in
a lawyer with a twisted sense of ethics and the result is Deidre Hunt
being allowed to retract her guilty plea, a new trial, and a release
from death row.
in 1990, shortly after Deidre and Kosta had been convicted and sent
off to prison.
her guilty pleas, Deidre’s death sentences were automatically
appealed. Peter Niles, the court-appointed attorney who had
represented Deidre in court was handling her appeal and contacted the
warden at Broward Correctional Institution to arrange an
He told the
warden that he had made arrangements with the prosecutor and the judge
to videotape Deidre at BCI regarding testimony concerning Kosta. Niles
indicated he would bring a law clerk and a cameraman to assist with
the videotaping. The visit was approved.
when Niles and his crew sat down with Deidre, he advised his client
that they were not working on her case, but the people he had brought
with him were from the tabloid TV show “A Current Affair.”
Deidre that he was not being compensated for bringing the crew into
the prison, and that she would not be paid for the interview. In fact,
Niles had been promised $5,000 from the show’s producers if he set up
the interview and a story subsequently aired. The deal had been in the
works for six months, meaning that Niles was negotiating with “A
Current Affair” at the same time he was representing Deidre Hunt
before the state.
ran under the headline “Deadly Deidre.”
revelation surfaced in 1993, the judge who heard Deidre’s guilty pleas
had no choice but to grant her motion to rescind them.
is legally obligated to find that when Mr. Niles counseled the
defendant to enter guilty pleas, he was operating under a conflict of
interest,” the judge ruled.
everyone except Deidre Hunt was livid.
engaged in extremely serious violations of the Rules Regulating the
Florida Bar with lies and misrepresentations to his client, as well as
to BCI, the public, and the legal profession as a whole through a
sensational and derogatory media interview,” the Florida Supreme Court
wrote, suspending the lawyer for a year.
absolutely maddening,” said Stephen Cotter, spokesman for the state
attorney’s office. “When it’s based on defense misconduct, that’s when
the blood really starts boiling.”
Deidre Hunt went to trial in 1996. She
was convicted of two counts of first degree murder and sentenced to
life in prison.
District Court of Appeal of
Deidre M. HUNT v. STATE of Florida.
February 18, 2000
Carey Haughwout, of Tierney & Haughwout, of Tierney
& Haughwout, West Palm Beach, for Appellant. Robert A. Butterworth,
Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Kellie A. Nielan, Assistant
Attorney General, Daytona Beach, for Appellee.
This is another appeal arising out of a series of
crimes perpetrated by the defendant, Deidre M. Hunt, through her
association with Konstantinos X. Fotopoulos. See Hunt v. State, 613
So.2d 893 (Fla.1992); Fotopoulos v. State, 608 So.2d 784 (Fla.1992),
cert. denied, 508 U.S. 924, 113 S.Ct. 2377, 124 L.Ed.2d 282 (1993).
In the Summer of 1989, Deidre M. Hunt [“Hunt”],
then twenty years old, moved to the Daytona Beach area from New
Hampshire to live with her boyfriend, but the relationship soon ended.
Hunt became acquainted with Lori Henderson [“Henderson”] and Tony
Calderoni. After a brief sexual relationship, Tony Calderoni rented
Hunt an apartment and provided her a job at “Top Shots,” a pool hall
he managed for the owner, Konstantinos X. Fotopoulos [“Fotopoulos”].
Soon thereafter, Hunt began an affair with Fotopoulos, who in turn
rented her an apartment, gave her money, and bought her clothes.
Fotopoulos was married to Lisa Fotopoulos, and
lived with Lisa, her mother, and brother, in her mother's home. Lisa
owned a business on the boardwalk in Daytona Beach called “Joyland
Amusement Center.” Sometime towards the end of October 1989, Lisa
learned of Fotopoulos' affair with Hunt and she demanded that
Fotopoulos fire Hunt from Top Shots. When he denied the affair, she
announced her plan to file for divorce.
On November 1, 1989, while working at Joyland, Lisa
was attacked by a man later identified as Teja James. James pointed
a gun at Lisa and told her he would shoot her if she did not heed his
command. Lisa, however, managed to escape and notified the police.
Lisa identified James' photograph and the search began for his
Four days later, Lisa awoke to a loud noise. All
she could remember was seeing Fotopoulos with a gun in his hand and a
young man, later identified as Bryan Chase, lying shot at the foot of
her bed with his finger on the trigger of a gun. Fotopoulos had shot
Chase several times after shooting Lisa in the head.
The police responded to the scene and initially
classified the crime as a home invasion gone wrong and a self-defense
shooting by Fotopoulos. The police soon became suspicious, however,
that the incident was somehow related to the events at Joyland. As
part of their investigation, the police contacted Hunt and Henderson.
While at the police station, Hunt confessed to her involvement
during an audio-taped interview.
She informed them of the extent of Fotopoulos'
criminal activity, including counterfeiting, stealing cars and bank
robberies. Hunt further told the police that Fotopoulos was a
“trained assassin,” had tortured then killed approximately eight
people and owned numerous weapons, including assault rifles, guns, and
Hunt explained that the elaborate plans to kill
Lisa had begun with another murder, that of Kevin Ramsey [“Ramsey”] a
month earlier. Ramsey was a former Fotopoulos employee whom
Fotopoulos believed was blackmailing him over his counterfeiting
enterprise. The police were not aware that Ramsey was missing.
Hunt detailed the events of Ramsey's murder as
follows: Fotopoulos, Ramsey and Hunt went out to the woods to an old
rifle range. Fotopoulos tied Ramsey to a tree, gave a .22 pistol to
Hunt, pointed his AK-47 automatic rifle at her head and demanded she
shoot Ramsey. She shot him several times. Hunt informed the police
that Fotopoulos videotaped the shooting and still had the tape in his
possession. Hunt then guided the police to Ramsey's severely
Hunt's friend, Henderson, also testified at trial.
Henderson testified that she learned of the plan to kill Lisa from
Hunt, who also told her the couple planned to move into Lisa's house
after her death. Henderson testified that prior to the Ramsey
murder, Hunt informed her that Fotopoulos planned for her to kill
someone so he could in turn videotape it for protection. Hunt also
informed Henderson that it would be Ramsey.
Hunt presented expert testimony that Hunt's mother
suffered from multiple personality disorder with eleven separate
personalities. She also presented testimony, based upon her
childhood experiences and her relationship with Fotopoulos, that she
suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and battered woman
syndrome. Hunt's experts testified that Fotopoulos inflicted
ritualistic torture on Hunt by cutting her with razors, sucking her
blood, throwing knifes, burning her with cigarettes and an iron,
poking her with needles, and threatening her with a gun. One expert
testified that as a result of her mental illness, Hunt did not
understand the consequences of her actions and she believed she had no
alternative but to obey Fotopoulos.
Finally, Hunt published admissions made by the
State in the Fotopoulos trial. In particular, Hunt published
statements by State Attorney John Tanner describing Fotopoulos'
relationship with Hunt as a “significant beginning of a pattern of
intimidation and terror inflicted on the witness to terrorize her and
break down her will ultimately and obtain complete control of her,
ultimately resulting in her carrying out the various crimes.” Tanner
also said that Hunt's testimony was to be introduced in the trial
against Fotopoulos “for the purpose to show a clear pattern of
physical assault, abuse, intimidation, and coercion-and the direct and
primary cause for Deidre Hunt's criminal activity.” The State also
asserted in the Fotopoulos trial that his threats “had an impact on
her; in effect, paralyzed her; stopped her from feeling she could go
to anyone or talk to anyone or escape from the circumstances” Tanner
described “a continuing pattern of domination, threat, and
intimidation, which ultimately deprived Deidre Hunt of the ability to
even resist, let alone disobey.” The jury returned a verdict finding
Hunt guilty as charged.
In the judgment and sentencing order, the lower
court made the following findings:
The defendant murdered Kevin Ramsey execution-style
while his hands were bound behind his back and he was tied to a tree.
The evidence at trial showed the defendant murdered Ramsey calmly,
after cool reflection, and that the murder of Ramsey was not an act
prompted by emotional frenzy, panic, or a fit of rage. The evidence
showed the defendant and codefendant Fotopoulos had a prearranged
design to murder Ramsey. The videotape introduced at trial showed
the defendant shooting the victim three times in the chest and once in
the head at point blank range. According to the defendant's
videotaped statement introduced at the guilt phase of trial when she
went to the woods with codefendant Fotopoulos and Ramsey and she
believed she was only going to shoot around Ramsey's feet while he was
tied to a tree. She stated that once they stopped the car defendant
Fotopoulos sent Ramsey ahead to see if anyone was in the area.
Codefendant Fotopoulos then told her before they left the car that she
was going to murder Ramsey. The three then walked a short distance
into the woods, Ramsey's hands were tied behind his back and he was
tied to a tree. Codefendant Fotopoulos then turned on the video
camera and a flashlight. The beginning of the videotape shows the
defendant standing near Ramsey. She tells codefendant Fotopoulos not
to shine the flashlight in her eyes. Codefendant Fotopoulos adjusts
the light and focuses the camera. He tells the defendant to step
closer to Ramsey and she does so. When codefendant Fotopoulos tells
her to begin, the defendant calmly pulls a .22 caliber pistol from her
jacket pocket and shoots the victim. By the defendant's own
admission she knew she was going to carry out an execution-style
murder at least from the time she left the car. She had previously
expressed to her friends that she was willing to do this
execution-style killing when the time came. The Court finds this is
proof beyond a reasonable doubt of heightened premeditation and
The court sentenced Hunt on count I of the
Indictment for the first-degree murder of Kevin Ramsey to life
imprisonment with twenty-five years before the possibility of parole,
and to life imprisonment with twenty-five years before the possibility
of parole on count II for the first-degree murder of Brian Chase, to
run consecutively with count I. The court subsequently sentenced Hunt
on the remainder of her offenses: on count III of the Indictment,
conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, the court sentenced Hunt to
thirty years in prison, to run concurrently with count IV; and the
court sentenced Hunt to thirty years in prison on count IV,
solicitation to commit the first-degree murder of Lisa Fotopoulos, to
run concurrently with count III.
Hunt has raised two related issues on appeal,
namely that the lower court erred in refusing to give either of two
requested jury instructions directed at her contention that the only
reason she killed Kevin Ramsey was that Fotopoulos had a gun pointed
at her head and that she killed Ramsey to avoid being killed. The
first of these proposed instructions was designed to supplement the
standard instruction on premeditation to include the requirement that
premeditation be uninfluenced by a dominating passion sufficient to
obscure reason. The second was an instruction that necessity is a
defense to homicide.1
We find no merit to Hunt's claim that she was
entitled to a “necessity” instruction. We agree with the State that
the necessity defense does not apply in this case; rather the facts
support a claim of duress. The Supreme Court described the
difference in United States v. Bailey, 444 U.S. 394, 100 S.Ct. 624, 62
L.Ed.2d 575 (1980):
Common law historically distinguished between the
defenses of duress and necessity. Duress was said to excuse criminal
conduct where the actor was under an unlawful threat of imminent death
or serious bodily injury, which threat caused the actor to engage in
conduct violating the literal terms of the criminal law. While the
defense of duress covered the situation where the coercion had its
source in the actions of other human beings, the defense of necessity,
or choice of evils, traditionally covered the situation where physical
forces beyond the actor's control rendered illegal conduct the lesser
of two evils. Thus, where A destroyed a dike because B threatened to
kill him if he did not, A would argue that he acted under duress,
whereas if A destroyed the dike in order to protect more valuable
property from flooding, A could claim a defense of necessity. See
generally LaFave & Scott 374-384.
Presumably, Hunt prefers “necessity” over duress
because duress is not a defense to homicide. Bailey, 444 U.S. at
409-10, 100 S.Ct. 624. In Wright v. State, 402 So.2d 493 (Fla. 3d
DCA 1981), the third district held on similar facts that duress is not
available as a defense to intentional homicide, including second
degree murder. At her trial, Wright requested the jury to be
instructed as follows:
I charge you that if you believe from the evidence
that at the time of the death of Barbie Hall the defendant Dorothy
Wright was then subjected to real, present danger, existent at the
time, imminent and not to be avoided, or under all the circumstances
shown in the evidence the defendant Dorothy Wright had reasonable
grounds to believe that such danger was real, imminent and impending
and did so believe at the time of the shooting of Barbara Hall and
that the defendant Dorothy Wright shot Barbara Hall because of such
belief, then you may find Dorothy Wright not guilty of this charge.
Wright, 402 So.2d at 497. The trial court denied
the instruction. The third district affirmed, and “unhesitatingly”
reaffirmed the rule that duress is not a defense to an intentional
homicide. Id. at 498. In so holding, the third district commented
on the “paucity” of cases which had addressed the issue, indicating
its hope that the lack of cases indicated a public policy against the
defense as it applied to murder and reflected “the rule that duress
will never justify the killing of an innocent third party accords with
the mores of our society.” Id. Finally, the third district
articulated the rationale behind the unavailability of the defense to
The common law has steadfastly refused to recognize
any compulsion, even the threat of death, as sufficient to excuse
taking the life of another․ Legal recognition of duress as a defense
to crimes other than homicide necessarily assumes a working hypothesis
that a harm or crime of greater magnitude is avoided when the
subjected person succumbs to the duress. This hypothesis disappears
when duress is sought to be invoked as a defense in a homicide case.
Wright, 402 So.2d at 498 (quoting Jackson v. State,
558 S.W.2d 816, 820 (Mo.Ct.App.1977)).
See also 1 Charles E. Torcia, Wharton's Criminal
Law § 90 (15th ed.1993); Wayne LaFave & Austin Scott, Jr., Criminal
Law § 77, at 585 (1st ed.1972).
Hunt's second contention is that the trial court
reversibly erred when it opted for the standard jury instruction on
premeditation instead of her proposed jury instruction that included
the notion of a “dominating passion.” In essence, she contends that
there was evidence at trial that Hunt's fear of Fotopoulos “prevented
her from forming the necessary premeditation” to sustain a charge of
In support of her theory, Hunt relies on language
in Forehand v. State, 126 Fla. 464, 171 So. 241 (1936) and Tien Wang
v. State, 426 So.2d 1004 (Fla. 3d DCA), review denied, 434 So.2d 889
The State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that
the premeditation is not influenced by a dominating fear sufficient to
In Forehand, the supreme court reversed the
defendant's conviction for first-degree murder upon finding
insufficient evidence of premeditation and remanded for a new trial to
determine whether the defendant's acts constituted murder in the
second degree or manslaughter. Forehand, 171 So. at 244. In so
holding, the supreme court recognized that premeditation is the
essential element of first-degree murder but that premeditation may be
negated by a finding of what is today referred to as “heat of
It is also true that a well-defined purpose to kill
may be induced, compelled, or constrained by anger of such degree as
for the moment to cloud the reason and momentarily obscure what might
otherwise be a deliberate purpose by its impelling influence․
* * *
As the element of premeditation is an essential
ingredient of the crime of murder in the first degree, it is necessary
that the fact of premeditation uninfluenced or uncontrolled by a
dominating passion sufficient to obscure the reason based upon an
adequate provocation must be established beyond a reasonable doubt
before it can be said that the accused was guilty of murder in the
first degree as defined by our statute.
Forehand, 171 So. at 243.
In Wang, the third district quoted the above
passage from Forehand to support its conclusion that the evidence of
an altercation in that case between the defendant and the victim was
equally consistent with “heat of passion” as it was with
premeditation, precluding a conviction for first-degree murder.
Wang, 426 So.2d at 1007; see also Clay v. State, 424 So.2d 139, 141
(Fla. 3d DCA 1982)(evidence did not sustain conviction for
first-degree murder where the defendant operated under a “dominating
passion” and fear of the victim when she killed him), review denied,
434 So.2d 889 (Fla.1983).
Hunt requested the following instruction, tracking
the language in Forehand:
As the element of premeditation is an essential
ingredient of the crime of murder in the first degree, it is necessary
that the fact of premeditation uninfluenced or uncontrolled by a
dominating passion sufficient to obscure reason based upon an adequate
provocation must be established beyond a reasonable doubt before it
can be said that the defendant is guilt of murder in the first degree.
The State, however, argued that the special
instruction was confusing and unnecessary since the standard jury
instructions on premeditation and the instructions on justifiable and
excusable homicide included similar language and adequately instructed
the jury. Accepting the State's argument, the trial court rejected
Hunt's proposed instructions and gave the justifiable and excusable
homicide instruction and the standard jury instruction on
“Killing with Premeditation” is killing after
consciously deciding to do so. The decision must be present in the
mind at the time of the killing. The law does not fix the exact
period of time that must pass between the formation of the
premeditated intent to kill and the killing. The period of time must
be long enough to allow reflection by the defendant. The
premeditated intent to kill must be formed before the killing.
The question of premeditation is a question of fact
to be determined by you from the evidence. It will be sufficient
proof of premeditation if the circumstances of the killing and the
conduct of the accused convince you beyond a reasonable doubt of the
existence of premeditation at the time of the killing.
In Kilgore v. State, 688 So.2d 895, 897 (Fla.1996),
cert. denied, 522 U.S. 832, 118 S.Ct. 103, 139 L.Ed.2d 58 (1997), the
supreme court addressed a similar situation. There, the defendant
appealed the trial court's denial of his special “heat of passion”
exception to premeditation. In that case, the defendant was
convicted of the first-degree murder of his prison mate homosexual
lover. Kilgore, 688 So.2d at 896. The State presented testimony
that the defendant laid in wait outside the lover's cell and stabbed
him three times with a shank knife when he returned. Id. at 896-97.
After stabbing his lover, the defendant poured caustic liquid in his
lover's face and mouth. Id. at 897. He immediately confessed to
authorities that “I stabbed the bitch.” Id.
At his trial, the defendant requested a special
“heat of passion” jury instruction which provided:
An intentional unlawful killing is not premeditated
murder if it was committed while the defendant was in the heat of
passion brought on by sudden provocation sufficient to produce in the
mind of an ordinary person the highest degree of rage, anger, or
resentment that is so intense as to overcome the use of ordinary
judgment thereby rendering a normal person incapable of reflection.
Id. at 898. The trial court rejected the
defendant's special instruction, opting instead, as in this case, to
issue standard jury instructions on premeditation and “heat of
passion” in the context of excusable homicide. Id. at 897. The
defendant appealed, arguing that his special instruction would have
explained “heat of passion” as a negating factor of premeditation and
that by not so instructing the jury the trial court denied his right
to due process. Id. The supreme court, however, disagreed, finding
the standard jury instructions sufficient to instruct the jury on
“heat of passion” and premeditation:
Kilgore avers that he was denied due process under
both the state and federal constitutions when his request for a
special heat-of-passion instruction was denied. The special
instruction would have explained heat of passion in the context of
intentional homicide. Essentially, the instruction would have
clarified that a person acting under the heat of passion is, in some
circumstances, incapable of premeditation. Instead, the trial judge
utilized the standard jury instructions. Included in these
instruction was a discussion of heat of passion in the context of
excusable homicide. Further, the requirement of premeditation in a
first degree conviction was repeatedly emphasized. This Court has
acknowledged that the standard jury instructions are sufficient to
explain premeditation. Spencer v. State, 645 So.2d 377, 382
(Fla.1994). We also have ruled that the trial court does not
necessarily abuse its discretion in denying a special heat-of-passion
instruction. Kramer v. State, 619 So.2d 274, 277 (Fla.1993). After
viewing these facts, we conclude that there is no indication that the
trial court erred by refusing the requested instruction. The
necessary elements of premeditation were presented with the standard
instruction and the trial court was well within its prerogative to
refuse a separate, and possibly confusing, instruction.
Id. at 898.
As in Kilgore, the jury instructions in this case
included the standard jury instruction on premeditation and a
discussion of “heat of passion” in the instruction on excusable
While Hunt's proposed instruction, like Kilgore's, may have
elaborated on the effect that extreme emotion might have on the
ability to premeditate, the convoluted language taken from the
Forehand opinion may have led to confusion. The trial court was well
within its prerogative to deny the proposed instruction.
In recognition of Kilgore, Hunt urges that in this
particular case, because the court also instructed the jury that
coercion is not a defense to homicide, an instruction on “heat of
passion” was required. We disagree. This instruction correctly
informed the jury that coercion would not excuse homicide; it does
not suggest that it cannot affect premeditation. The question
whether Hunt made a “conscious decision” to kill Kevin Ramsey after
time for “reflection” in light of her emotional state is appropriately
a matter for argument to the jury. Here it was fully explored during
closing by counsel for Hunt. Accordingly, we affirm appellant's
judgment and sentence.3
1. We note
that the two requested instructions appear inherently inconsistent.
“Necessity” assumes a conscious weighing of competing harms whereas
the lack of premeditation defense assumes the inability to reason at
also State v. Nargashian, 26 R.I. 299, 58 A. 953 (1904)(B
intentionally killed C because A with axe in hand threatened to kill B
unless B killed C; court found B guilty of murder, not manslaughter,
and rejected B's argument “that fear, like passion, may so cloud the
mind as to eliminate malice.”); LaFave & Scott, supra.
3. As her
last point, Hunt urges that she was sentenced in violation of North
Carolina v. Pearce, 395 U.S. 711, 89 S.Ct. 2089, 23 L.Ed.2d 656
(1969), for the attempted murder of Lisa Fotopoulos. In light of the
overall change in the sentencing scheme after elimination of the death
sentence, we find no violation.
JACOBUS, B., Associate Judge, concurs.DAUKSCH, J.,
concurs in result only.