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Allen Ward COX






Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Retaliation - Dispute over stolen money
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: December 21, 1998
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: September 20, 1962
Victim profile: Thomas Baker (inmate)
Method of murder: Stabbing with an ice-pick-shaped shank
Location: Lake County, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on July 24, 2000

Florida Supreme Court


opinion SC00-1751


DC# 188854
DOB: 09/20/62   

Fifth Judicial Circuit, Lake County, Case #99-249
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable T. Michael Johnson 
Attorneys, Criminal Trial: William Stone & Jeffrey Higgins - Assistant Public Defenders
Attorney, Direct Appeal: Christopher S. Quarles - Assistant Public Defender 
Attorney, Collateral Appeals: Eric Pinkard & James Driscoll – CCRC-M

Date of Offense: 12/21/98

Date of Sentence: 07/24/00

Circumstances of Offense: 

Allen Ward Cox was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Thomas Baker.  The murder occurred on 12/21/98 at the Lake Correctional Institute, where Cox was an inmate serving several life sentences for kidnapping, sexual battery and aggravated battery.

On 12/20/98, Cox noticed that someone had broken into his personal footlocker and stolen $500.  According to the testimony of several inmates, Cox announced to the other inmates in his dormitory that he would give $50 to anyone who would identify the thief.  Cox threatened to kill the thief upon discovering his identity and indicated no concern for the consequences. 

On 12/21/98, during the inmate’s lunch hour, Cox motioned for Thomas Baker to come over to him.  Cox hit Baker, knocking him to the ground.  Baker struggled to free himself from the attack and repeatedly denied stealing the $500.  Cox then stabbed Baker three times with an ice-pick-shaped shank. Cox fled behind the prison pump house and hid the shank in a pipe.

After being stabbed, Thomas Baker fled the scene to nearby correctional officers.  Baker identified his attacker as “Big Al, Echo Dorm, Quad Three.”  Baker hysterically motioned to the officers that he was having trouble breathing and could feel his lungs filling up with blood.  Baker died en route to the hospital.  Medical examiners testified the fatal stab wound pierced Baker’s lungs and aorta.

Cox returned to his dorm where he confronted Donny Cox (no relation) about his stolen money.  Cox threatened Donny and told him he would kill him too if he had anything to do with the stolen money.  Cox returned to his cell where he attacked his cellmate Lawrence Wood.  Cox told Wood he was lucky because he would also have been stabbed if Cox had not already discarded the shank.

NOTE: Allen Cox was serving multiple life sentences at Lake Correctional Institute at the time of the current offense.

Trial Summary:

02/05/99          The defendant was indicted on the following charges:

Count I:           First-Degree Murder

Count II:          Battery (later pled guilty)

03/14/00          The jury found the defendant guilty of First-Degree Murder.

03/20/00          Upon advisory sentencing, the jury, by a 10 to 2 majority, voted for the death penalty.

07/24/00          The defendant was sentenced as followed:

Count I:           First-Degree Murder - Death

Count II:          Battery – 5 years

Case Information:

On 08/28/00, Allen Cox filed a Direct Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court.  In that appeal, he argued that the trial court erred in failing to declare a mistrial following a discovery violation by the State and a testimonial violation of an order in limine.  The Florida Supreme Court noted that, although a discovery violation did occur, it was inadvertent and did not prejudice Cox’s case and that the trial court gave the proper curative instruction following the violation of the order in limine.  Cox claimed that the prosecutor’s misstatements of the law constituted fundamental error and that the trial court erred in the consideration and application of aggravating and mitigating circumstances.  The Florida Supreme Court affirmed Cox’s conviction and sentence of death on 05/23/02.

Cox next filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court, which was denied 01/13/03. 

Cox filed a 3.850 Motion in the State Circuit Court on 01/08/04 that was denied on 04/21/05. 

Cox filed a 3.851 Motion Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court on 05/23/05 that is pending. 

Cox filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in the Florida Supreme Court on 01/17/06 that is pending.



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