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Milford Wade BYRD





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Parricide
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: October 12, 1981
Date of arrest: October 28, 1981
Date of birth: September 11, 1949
Victim profile: Debra Byrd (his wife)
Method of murder: Strangulation
LocationHillsborough County, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on August 13, 1982

Florida Supreme Court


opinion 74691

opinion 83163

opinion SC06-539


DC# 085488
DOB: 09/11/49

Thirteenth Judicial Circuit, Hillsborough County, Case #81-10517
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable F. Dennis Alarvez
Trial Attorneys: Frank T. Johnson & Fred Buckine – Private  
Attorneys, Direct Appeal: W.C McLain & Karla J. Staker – Assistant Public Defenders
Attorneys, Collateral Appeals: Martin McClain & Christine Spuedas – CCRC-S

Date of Offense: 10/12/81 

Date of Sentence: 08/13/82

Circumstances of Offense:

Milford Byrd was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of his wife, Debra Byrd, on 10/12/81.

Debra Byrd was found strangled to death at the Tampa motel that the she and her husband managed on the morning of 10/13/81.  Medical examiners discovered that Debra had suffered from many non-fatal wounds including scalp lacerations, bruises and four gunshot wounds.

According to the statements he made to police, Byrd claimed he had gone to the gym and to a couple of bars the night of the murder, and upon returning home at 6:45 a.m., he found his wife dead.  Soon after the murder, Byrd was inquiring about his wife’s $100,000 life insurance policy and how long it would take to settle the claim.

On 10/27/81, Ronald Sullivan, who resided at Byrd’s motel, was arrested for a parole violation and subsequently charged with Debra’s murder.  Stemming from Sullivan’s statements to police, Byrd was arrested in connection with Debra’s murder on 10/28/81.  Police officers arrested Byrd on probable cause, without a warrant. 

At the police station, Byrd claimed that he would make a statement about the murder if he could speak to his girlfriend privately.  Detectives relented, and after speaking with his girlfriend, Byrd relayed the following information about Debra’s murder:  Byrd had fallen in love with his current girlfriend, and Debra refused to grant him a divorce.  Byrd confessed that he approached Sullivan and his roommate, James Endress, about killing his wife.  Byrd offered them $5,000 each to arrange the murder and make it look like a robbery.  Byrd claimed that he was not present when the murder was committed.

Sullivan turned State’s evidence in exchange for a negotiated plea and testified against Byrd at his trial.  Sullivan claimed that Byrd was, in fact, present at the time of the murder and that he, Endress and Byrd all took turns choking Debra.

Codefendant Information:

Ronald Sullivan was sentenced to 10 years for Second-Degree Murder on 06/24/83 for his role in the murder of Debra Byrd.

James Endress was sentenced to life in prison for First-Degree Murder on 10/20/83.

Trial Summary:

10/28/81          Defendant arrested.

11/12/81          Defendant indicted on the following:

Count I:           First Degree Murder

11/24/81          The defendant entered a written plea of “not guilty.”

07/23/82          The jury found the defendant guilty of First-Degree Murder.

07/26/82          Upon advisory sentencing, the jury, by a 12 to 0 majority, voted for the death penalty.

08/13/82          The defendant was sentenced to the following:

Count I:           First Degree Murder - Death

Case Information:

Byrd filed his Direct Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court on 08/27/82.  Byrd claimed in his appeal that his confession should have been suppressed because it was not given voluntarily.  After examination, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that Byrd’s arrest and confession were lawful.  Byrd also argued the application of non-statutory aggravating and mitigating factors in his case.  Additionally, he claimed that the murder was not committed for pecuniary gain or “heinous, atrocious and cruel.” 

The Florida Supreme Court summarily denied all claims and affirmed the conviction and sentence on 11/14/85. 

On 04/04/86, Byrd filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court, which was denied on 05/27/86.

Next, Byrd filed a Motion to Vacate Judgment and Sentence (3.850) in the State Circuit Court on 05/27/88.  That motion was denied on 07/11/89.  Byrd filed an appeal of that decision in the Florida Supreme Court on 09/08/89.  The court affirmed the denial of Byrd’s 3.850 on 02/20/92.

Byrd filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in the United States District Court, Middle District, on 07/27/92.  That petition was denied on 03/31/94.

Byrd then filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in the Florida Supreme Court on 02/09/94.  The Florida Supreme Court denied the petition on 01/26/95.

On 12/12/95, Byrd filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court, which was denied on 03/18/96.

Byrd again filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in the United States District Court, Middle District, on 04/18/96.  The petition was administratively closed on 09/23/99.  Byrd’s case was reopened and an amended petition was filed on 02/12/02.  The case was administratively closed on 7/22/02 pending the final decision in the Bottoson/King cases.

On 03/25/02, Byrd filed a 3.850 Motion in the State Circuit Court that was denied on 08/01/05. 

Byrd filed a 3.851 Motion Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court on 03/20/06 that is pending.


Milford Byrd



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