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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Kidnapping - Rape
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: December 26, 1999
Date of arrest: January 24, 2000
Date of birth: July 4, 1974
Victim profile: Mary Ann Hobgood, 18
Method of murder: Beating with a lug wrench
Location: Duval County, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on June 14, 2002

Supreme Court of Florida


opinion 02-1666


DC#  125172
DOB:  07/04/74

Fourth Judicial Circuit, Duval County Case # 00-1549
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Henry E. Davis
Attorney, Trial: Refik W. Eler – Private (Court-Appointed)
Attorney, Direct Appeal: Nada Carey – Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, Collateral Appeals:  Jefferson Morrow – Registry

Date of Offense: 12/26/99

Date of Sentence: 06/14/02

Circumstances of Offense:

On the evening of 12/25/99, Mary Ann Hobgood left her parents’ house with her friend, Misty Jones, in a car driven by Jones’ boyfriend, Luther Douglas.  Douglas was driving a red Ford Escort, which belonged to the mother of one of Douglas’ children, Jimela Dozier. 

The three then stopped at a liquor store and bough a bottle of rum and soda, which Douglas and Hobgood drank.  They then went to several area bars and, when Douglas dropped Jones off at home around midnight, he left with Hobgood in the car. 

Douglas called Jones in the early hours of 12/26/99, first telling her that he had dropped Hobgood off at a bar and then stating that he had taken Hobgood home.  When Jones saw Douglas later in the morning, she noticed scratch marks on Douglas’ neck that had not been there the previous evening. 

In Douglas’ presence, Jones called Hobgood’s home and was informed that she had not returned home.  When Hobgood’s sister called Jones later in the day, Jones lied and told her that they [Jones and Hobgood] had been out with Jones’ ex-boyfriend, Timothy Hightower, the previous evening.  Jones later stated that she lied to Hobgood’s sister because Douglas was listening to the conversation. 

Jones then confronted Douglas regarding Hobgood’s whereabouts, while the two were driving in the red Ford Escort.  During the drive, Jones noticed that the car was clean, inside and out, whereas it had been dirty and cluttered with trash on the previous evening. 

Douglas admitted beating Hobgood and throwing her out of the car.  Douglas also told Jones that if she was questioned about the crime, she should implicate Hightower, or else she would end up like Hobgood. 

When police questioned Jones about Hobgood’s whereabouts, she told them the same story that she had told Hobgood’s sister – she and Hobgood had gone out with Hightower.  Jones recanted that statement when police again questioned her in January of 2000. 

On the afternoon of 12/26/99, Hobgood’s body was found along a set of railroad tracks.  She was found on her back in a shrub line, with her legs stretched out in front of her.  Hobgood’s body was nude from the waist down, and her knit top and black bra were torn and pushed up to her shoulders. 

Near the body, police found a lug wrench, a rubber car part (later determined to be from the red Ford Escort), and a blood-soaked maroon jacket, that was later determined to have belonged to Douglas. 

Forensic investigation determined that Hobgood died as the result of blunt head trauma, with ten blows to the face, seven blows to the back of the head, and seven to ten blows to her hands and arms. 

Additionally, her jaw and nose were broken, several of her teeth had been knocked out and her right shoulder was dislocated.  An autopsy showed that additional, extensive injury was received post-mortem, most likely the result of being run over by a car. 

A rape kit indicated the presence of semen, later determined to be Douglas’, in the vagina of Hobgood.  Forensic testing in the red Ford Escort yielded traces of blood in, on, and under the car that matched Hobgood’s blood. 

When questioned by police, Douglas initially claimed that the blood found in the car belonged to a friend, Eric Ransom, but police later determined that Ransom was incarcerated at the time of the murder.  Police then arrested Douglas for the rape and murder of Hobgood.  While in jail awaiting trial, Douglas implicated himself in the crimes to a fellow inmate. 

Trial Summary: 

03/02/00          Indicted as follows:

Count I:           First-Degree Murder

Count II:          Sexual Battery

Count III:         Kidnapping

03/15/02          Jury returned guilty verdicts for Counts I and II of the indictment

                       State nolle prossed Count III of the indictment

04/05/02          Jury recommended death by a vote of 11-1

06/14/00          Sentenced as follows:

Count I:           First-Degree Murder – Death

Count II:          Sexual Battery – Life Imprisonment

Case Information:

Douglas filed a Direct Appeal with the Florida Supreme Court on 07/25/02, citing the following errors: allowing crime scene and autopsy photographs into evidence; failing to find mitigating circumstances; finding the aggravating circumstance of heinous, atrocious, or cruel murder; disproportionate death sentence; and Florida’s unconstitutional death penalty statute.  On 05/06/04, the FSC affirmed the convictions and sentences. 

Douglas filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court on 10/13/04 that was denied on 01/10/05.

Douglas filed a 3.851 Motion with the Circuit Court on 05/17/05 that is pending.



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