Juan Ignacio Blanco  


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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Robbery
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: August 20, 1993
Date of birth: September 4, 1963
Victim profile: Wilma Martin (property manager)
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Orange County, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on January 22, 1999

Florida Supreme Court

opinion SC94994

DC#  X18736
DOB:  09/04/63

Ninth Judicial Circuit, Orange County Case # 93-9667
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Robert C. Wattles
Attorneys, Trial: Pro Se, Leticia J. Marques & Francis Blankner – Private
Attorney, Direct Appeal: Michael S. Becker – Assistant Public Defender
Attorneys, Collateral Appeals: Daphney Gaylord – CCRC-M

Date of Offense: 08/20/93

Date of Sentence: 01/22/99

Circumstances of Offense:

Wilma Martin worked as a property manager and her responsibilities included collecting rent money from tenants.  Martin established a landlord-tenant relationship with Kevin Jeffries, Roxanne Jeffries, and Tammy Avant, who are all related to Sonny Jeffries. 

In the summer of 1993, Sonny Jeffries moved to Florida from New Jersey and became acquainted with Tammy Jeffries’ boyfriend’s brother, Harry Thomas.

Martin’s body was found on 08/20/93.  She had been stabbed several times and kicked or stomped to death.  A bloody footprint and fingerprint were left at the crime scene.  Several pieces of jewelry were taken and later pawned.

Roxanne Jeffries testified to overhearing Sonny Jeffries and Harry Thomas talk about going out, robbing and killing someone.  After Jeffries and Thomas returned from an alleged trip to Disney World, Roxanne noticed that Jeffries had rings in his possession that he did not have in the past.

Dennis Thomas, the brother of Harry Thomas, testified to overhearing Thomas and Jeffries talk about robbing Martin.  He also overheard the pair saying that Martin would be a good target because she collected rent money.

Laboratory analysis determined that the shoe print left at the crime scene could have been left by the same type of shoes as worn by Jeffries, but was not conclusive as to whether Jeffries’ shoes were the ones that left the print.  Further analysis of the fingerprint left at the crime scene determined that the fingerprint matched those of Jeffries.

Codefendant Information:

Harry Thomas was charged under the same indictment as Jeffries.  Thomas pled nolo contendere to Count I of the indictment, and was sentenced to a prison term of 20 years.   The State nolle prosequied Counts II and III of the indictment.  Thomas was conditionally released on 12/10/03 and returned to New Jersey.

Additional Information:

Prior to trial, Jeffries was found incompetent to proceed on 07/19/94 and 06/12/96. 

On 11/26/02, the Circuit Court determined that Jeffries was incompetent to proceed.  On 03/18/04, the State filed a motion for treatment to restore competency, and a Durocher hearing was held on 10/05/04.  On 10/08/04, the court issued an order of commitment.  On 04/08/05 and 05/26/05, Durocher hearings were held, and on 12/15/05, the court issued an order declaring Jeffries competent. 

Trial Summary:

10/18/93          Indicted as follows:

Count I:           First-Degree Murder

Count II:          Armed Robbery

Count III:         Armed Burglary

04/23/98          Jury returned guilty verdicts on Counts I and II and a not guilty verdict on Count III

09/09/98          Jury recommended death by a vote of 11-1

01/22/99          Sentenced as follows:

Count I:           First-Degree Murder – Death

Count II:          Armed Robbery – Life Imprisonment

Case Information:

Jeffries filed a Direct Appeal with the Florida Supreme Court on 03/01/99, citing the following errors: denying a motion to suppress shoes as evidence; overruling an objection to the State’s use of a peremptory challenge; denying a motion for judgment of acquittal; improperly evaluating mitigating evidence; and disproportionality of the death sentence.  On 08/23/01, the FSC affirmed the convictions and sentences. 

Jeffries filed a 3.850 Motion with the Circuit Court on 12/03/02.  On 11/26/02, the Circuit Court determined that Jeffries was incompetent to proceed.  On 10/21/03, the Circuit Court denied all claims except competency. 

On 03/18/04, the State filed a motion for treatment to restore competency, and a hearing was held on 10/05/04.  On 10/08/04, the court issued an order or commitment. 

On 04/08/05 and 05/26/05, the court held hearings, and on 12/15/05, the court issued an order declaring Jeffries competent.   On 02/13/06 and 06/08/06, the motion was amended.


Prisoner says he wants to die

The killer on death row faces a fight from his own attorney.

By Anthony Colarossi - Orlando Sentinel

March 3, 2005

Sonny Ray Jeffries wants to die.


In the dozen years since he stomped his brother's landlady to death while stealing her jewelry, Jeffries fought hard to avoid his arrest, conviction and execution for the murder.

But after six miserable years on death row, Jeffries, 41, now says he's tired of fighting and wants to drop all his appeals. He wants to end it all with a lethal injection.

All that stands in his way is his defense attorney, who is trying to convince Orange County Circuit Judge Bob Wattles that Jeffries is mentally ill - incapable of making his own decisions.

During a three-hour hearing Wednesday in Orlando, Jeffries repeatedly objected to attorney Daphney Gaylord's attempts to keep him out of the death chamber.

"This is not a hearing. This is ludicrous, the questions she is asking," said Jeffries, interrupting Gaylord's cross-examination of a state doctor who says Jeffries is competent to make his own decisions.

The odd case of a man condemned to die, but powerless to get to the death chamber fast enough, played out before Wattles, the same judge who sentenced Jeffries to death for the 1993 slaying of Wilma Martin. The state Supreme Court has already rejected one of Jeffries' appeals and, almost two years ago, Jeffries told Wattles he wanted to stop his attorneys from filing any more appeals.

That kicked off a series of court hearings and mental evaluations that all led up to Wednesday's hearing. Now it is up to Wattles to decide whether Jeffries -- who once claimed untreated gonorrhea drove him mad before he killed Martin -- is mentally sound enough to waive his future appeals.

Dr. Joe Thornton, a psychiatrist with the state Department of Children & Families, testified that he evaluated Jeffries in January and determined that he was competent and could make decisions about his capital case. Another state doctor is set to testify that he has come to the same conclusion.

When the hearing resumes in late March, Gaylord is set to present her own witnesses who are expected to testify that Jeffries is mentally incompetent.

Whether or not Jeffries is mentally ill has been the cornerstone of the case since he and Harry Thomas robbed and killed Martin, 68, in her Orlando home in August 1993. Thomas pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

It took almost five years for Jeffries to go to trial in the case because he was sent to a state mental hospital twice. Finally, in 1998, a jury found Jeffries guilty of killing Martin, who rented a house to his brother.

Jeffries represented himself during the trial. After his conviction, he admitted killing Martin but said the sexually transmitted disease drove him mad."

County jail administrations, prison administrations and hospital administrations are all responsible because they should have helped and treated me years ago," Jeffries told Wattles at the time.

Mental-health experts who questioned Jeffries in 1998 said he was schizophrenic. But they didn't connect his mental illness with gonorrhea.

On Wednesday, Thornton said Jeffries exhibited an "anti-social personality" and noted that he could beat odds with his attorney but was mentally competent to assist in his own defense.

"I felt he was competent," Thornton said.

While cross-examining Thornton, Gaylord reminded him of Jeffries ' mental-health history.

That line of questioning clearly infuriated Jeffries.

He repeatedly interrupted his attorney with emotional outbursts.

He called Gaylord's questioning of Thornton "repetitive" and "an insult to my character."

At one point, Jeffries asked to cross-examine Gaylord, but Watties denied the request.

At another point, Jeffries, who is white, argued that Gaylord, who is black, "is racist toward me."

"I want a lawyer change," Jeffries said.

Wattles listened to Jeffries' objections but didn't rule on them. He told Jeffries he would get a chance to talk later in the hearing.

Jeffries will have to wait a utile longer. The hearing ended abruptly Wednesday when Gaylord became ill and could not continue. The hearing will continue later this month.

Until then, Jeffries will have to wait it out ~ in his death-row cell.


Sonny Ray Jeffries



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