Judicial Circuit, Broward County Case # 87-18628 CF10A
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Mark E. Polen
Trial Attorney: Bruce Raticoff
Attorney, Direct Appeal: Gary Caldwell – Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, Collateral Appeals: Rachel Day – CCRC-S
Date of Offense:
of the Offense:
On November 1,
1987, police and firefighters responded to a 9:30 p.m. call about a fire
at a Deerfield Beach fabric store. Once inside, they discovered Phyllis
Harris and Janet Thermidor, two of the store’s employees.
Harris was tied
up in the men’s restroom and was found dead. Thermidor was found on the
floor of the women’s restroom and conscious even though she had a head
wound and was burned on over 90 percent of her body.
Thermidor told a
police officer that the store’s maintenance man, Robert Henry, hit her
on the head with a hammer after entering the office and then stole the
Henry momentarily left the office, but Thermidor recalls
him returning to throw a liquid on her and then setting her on fire.
Thermidor stated that she fled to the restroom to try and extinguish the
fire. The following morning, Thermidor died.
Following Thermidor’s lead, the police located and arrested Henry on the
morning of November 3rd. Henry’s initial statement was that
he was abducted by three strangers who subsequently robbed the store;
however, Henry later made self-incriminating statements.
Defendant was indicted with the following:
Count II: First-Degree Murder
Count III: Robbery with a Deadly Weapon
Count IV: Arson with a Deadly Weapon
Defendant was found guilty by the trial jury on all counts
10/06/88 The jury
recommended Death for Count I by a vote of 8-4 and Count II by a vote of
11/09/88 Defendant was sentenced as follows:
Factors Contributing to the Delay in Imposition of
The Direct Appeal took three years for a decision to be
rendered. During the Petition for Writ of Certiorari, the United States
Supreme Court vacated the sentence and remanded the case to the Florida
Supreme Court. The Circuit Court 3.850 took eight years prior to a
decision being rendered. The 3.850 motion was amended three times over
the course of three years. There were several changes in CCRC counsel
and several evidentiary hearings.
A direct appeal
was filed on 12/09/88. Issues that were raised included whether the
trial court erred in not granting his motion to suppress all of Henry’s
statements, and whether the trial court erred in not granting his motion
to suppress Thermidor’s statement claiming that it did not qualify as a
Supreme Court found all of the claims either without merit or harmless
and affirmed the conviction and sentence of Death on 08/29/91.
A Petition for
Writ of Certiorari was filed with the United States Supreme Court on
01/28/92 and granted on 06/29/92. The petition was granted based on
Espinosa v. Florida (jury rendered advisory verdict in sentencing
hearing after being instructed on invalid aggravating circumstances) and
Sochor v. Florida (judge’s improper weighing in capital
sentencing hearing of aggravating factor not supported by evidence).
was denied on 09/04/92 and remanded to the Florida Supreme Court.
Supreme Court affirmed the conviction and sentence on 12/24/92.
Petition for Writ of Certiorari was filed on 08/09/93 and denied on
A 3.850 motion
was filed with the circuit court on 06/01/95 and was denied on
A 3.850 Appeal
was filed with the Florida Supreme Court on 07/29/03, citing ineffective
assistance of counsel. On 05/25/06, the FSC affirmed the denial of the
A 3.853 Motion
was filed in the Circuit Court on 09/30/03 and was dismissed on
A 3.853 Motion
Appeal was filed with the Florida Supreme Court on 05/05/04 and was
voluntarily dismissed on 04/10/06.
A Petition for
Writ of Habeas Corpus was filed with the Florida Supreme Court on
06/28/04, citing ineffective assistance of counsel. On 05/25/06, the
FSC denied the petition.
Henry filed a 3.853 motion, which was amended on 08/06/07.
Henry filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus on
09/10/07 in the United States District Court, Southern District. This
petition was amended on 10/04/07.