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Ronald Alan KNIGHT






Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Robbery - Hate crime
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: July 8, 1993
Date of birth: June 26, 1968
Victim profile: Richard Kunkel (gay man)
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Palm Beach County, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on May 29, 1998

Florida Supreme Court


Docket #SC93473 - Ronald Knight, Appellant, vs. State of Florida, Appellee.
770 So. 2d 663; November 2, 2000.

opinion initial brief of appellant
answer brief of appellee reply brief of appellant

DC# 610979
DOB:  06/26/68

Fifteenth Judicial Circuit, Palm Beach County Case# 97-5175 CF
Sentencing Judge:  The Honorable Edward A. Garrison
Attorneys, Trial:  Ann Perry & Jose Sosa – Assistant Public Defenders           
Attorney, Direct Appeal:  Curtis Levine – Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, Collateral Appeals:  William Hennis, III – CCRC-S

Date of Offense: 07/08/93

Date of Sentence: 05/29/98

Circumstances of the Offense:

Ronald Knight was convicted for the murder of Richard Kunkel, which occurred on 07/08/93.

Knight and two codefendants, Timothy Pearson and Dain Brennault, decided to go to a gay bar, lure a man away from the bar, and then beat and rob him. The victim, Richard Kunkel, was invited to leave the bar and go party with the defendants.

Kunkel left the bar and followed the defendants to Miami Subs in his own car. When they were finished eating, the defendants convinced Kunkel to leave his car there and ride with them to the party.

Knight then drove out to a secluded area where they stopped twice and got out of the car to urinate. Before getting back into the car after their second stop, Knight pointed a gun at Kunkel and told him to turn around and take off his jeans.

As Kunkel was complying, Knight fired a single shot into Kunkel’s back. Kunkel then fell to the ground and began crying for help. Knight then told Pearson and Brennault to search Kunkel’s pockets.

Pearson searched Kunkel’s pockets, but Brennault refused. Knight and Pearson then dragged Kunkel’s body from the road to the side of a canal where he was left to die, and where his body was later discovered.

Knight then threatened to kill Brennault and Pearson if they told anyone about the murder. They returned to Miami Subs where Kunkel had left his car. Knight then stole Kunkel’s car and took it for a joyride, and later that night the three men burglarized Kunkel’s house.

When Brennault and Pearson were originally questioned by the police about the murder, they denied knowing anything about it, but both men later confessed.  Knight bragged about the murder to Christopher Holt, who later testified along with Pearson and Brennault against him at trial.

Additional Information:

Knight was indicted and convicted in a nonjury trial.  During the guilt phase of his trial, Knight represented himself, assisted by standby counsel, Mr. Sosa.

Codefendant Information:

Timothy Craig Pearson (DC# 197554)

Pearson was convicted for Accessory After the Fact and Armed Robbery.  He was sentenced to three years for each offense (CC# 97-5175).

Dain Harold Brennault (DC# W04705)

Brennault was convicted for Accessory After the Fact for his involvement.  He was sentenced to five years on probation (CC# 99-13031).

Evidence revealed that neither of the codefendants knew Knight planned to kill Kunkel. 

Trial Summary:

05/08/97          Indicted as follows:

Count I:           First-Degree Murder
Count II:          Armed Robbery
Count III:         Burglary
Count IV:         Grand Theft Auto (Hate Crime)          

02/20/98          Knight waived his trial by jury.

05/29/98          Sentenced to death by the trial judge.

05/29/98          Sentenced as follows:

Count I:           First-Degree Murder – Death
Count II:          Armed Robbery – 3 years
Count III:         Burglary – 15 years
Count IV:         Grand Theft Auto (Hate Crime) – 5 years

Case Information:

On 07/17/98, Knight filed a Direct Appeal to the Florida Supreme Court.  The Court found that Knight knowingly and intelligently waived his appointed defense counsel, and that an inquiry was not required to determine if counsel was incompetent before discharging them.  

After discharging the court-appointed counsel, the Court once again offered assistance of court-appointed counsel at the beginning of the trial even though not required to do so.  In addition, the Court also stated that Knight’s prior felony conviction could be used as an aggravating factor in sentencing.  The Court affirmed his conviction and sentence on 05/29/98.

Knight filed for Petition of Writ of Certiorari to the United States Supreme Court on 03/08/01, which was denied on 04/30/01.

Knight filed a 3.850 Motion to the Circuit Court on 09/27/01, which was amended on 06/03/04.  The motion is currently pending.


Ronald Alan Knight



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