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Rodney Tyrone LOWE





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Robbery
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: July 3, 1990
Date of arrest: 1 week after
Date of birth: June 2, 1970
Victim profile: Donna Burnell (convenience store clerk)
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Indian River County, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on May 1, 1991

Florida Supreme Court


opinion 77972

opinion SC05-633


DC# 699349
DOB:  06/02/70

Nineteenth Judicial Circuit, Indian River County, Case# 90-658
Sentencing Judge:  The Honorable Joe Wild
Trial Attorney:  Clifford H. Barnes – Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, Direct Appeal:  Margaret Good – Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, Collateral Appeals:  Rachel L. Day – CCRC-S

Date of Offense:  07/03/90

Date of Sentence:  05/01/91

Circumstances of the Offense:

The victim, Donna Burnell, worked as a clerk at the Nu Pak convenience store in Indian River County.

On the morning of 07/03/90, a man entered the store and shot her three times with a .32 caliber handgun. Ms. Burnell was shot in the face, head, and chest, which she died from on the way to the hospital. The man left the scene without taking any money from the store.

The police were able to link Rodney Lowe to the incident due to the facts that his fingerprints were found at the scene and his vehicle was seen leaving the parking lot of the convenience store.

They brought him in for questioning the following week. After having a brief conversation with his girlfriend, Lowe gave a statement that implicated him in the murder. He was arrested after giving this statement.


Trial Summary:

07/25/90          Indicted as follows:

Count I:           First-Degree Murder

Count II:          Attempted Robbery with a Firearm

07/25/90          Lowe entered a written plea of not guilty

04/21/91          Jury returned guilty verdicts on all counts of the indictment                  

04/22/91          Jury recommended death by a vote of 9-3

05/01/91          Sentenced as follows:

Count I:           First-Degree Murder – Death

Count II:         Attempted Robbery with a Firearm – 15 years,to run consecutive to the sentence of Count I.


Case Information:

Lowe filed his direct appeal to the Florida Supreme Court on 05/22/91. He raised ten issues in regards to the guilt phase of his trial and seven issues regarding the penalty phase. The main issue that Lowe raised was whether the trial court erred in admitting his confession. He contended that the police used his girlfriend to coerce him to confess after he had invoked his right to counsel.

The Court found no merit in this claim and affirmed Lowe’s convictions and death sentence on 11/23/94.

Lowe filed a Petition of Writ of Certiorari to the United States Supreme Court on 07/20/95, which was denied on 10/02/95. 

Lowe filed a 3.850 Motion to the Circuit Court on 03/19/97.  The motion was amended three times on the following dates: 09/20/00, 04/27/01, and 06/23/03.  On 08/11/04, an order was rendered, denying the second amended motion.

On 08/25/04, Lowe filed a successive 3.850 Motion to the Circuit Court.  Based on new evidence, which indicated that Lowe had an accomplice (Dwayne Blackmon) to the murder and robbery, Judge Hawley issued an order granting a new penalty phase (consolidated order disposing the first, second, and second amended successive motions) on 03/17/05.  The evidence came in the form of affidavits and testimony from people who implicate Blackmon, who died from a heart problem in August 2003, in Burnell’s murder.

On 04/15/05, Lowe filed a 3.850 Appeal to the Florida Supreme Court, which is currently pending.

On 12/20/05, Lowe filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus to the Florida Supreme Court, which is also pending.



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