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Andrew Richard LUKEHART





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Child abuse
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: February 25, 1996
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: April 10, 1973
Victim profile: Gabrielle Hanshaw, age five-months (his girlfriend's baby)
Method of murder: Blows in the head
Location: Duval County, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on April 4, 1997

Florida Supreme Court


opinion SC90507


DC# 391485

Fourth Judicial Circuit, Duval County, Case # 96-2645
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable William A. Wilkes
Trial Attorneys: Michael Edwards - Private
Attorney, Direct Appeal: Chet Kaufman – Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, Collateral Appeals: Michael P. Reiter - Registry

Date of Offense: 02/25/96

Date of Sentence: 04/04/97

Circumstances of the Offense:

At the time of the offense, Andrew Lukehart lived with his girlfriend, Misty Rhue and her two children, Ashley, aged two, and Gabrielle, age five-months. 

On the afternoon of February 25, 1996, Ms. Rhue put Ashley down for a nap in her bedroom, while Lukehart remained in the other room with Gabrielle. Around 5 p.m., Ms. Rhue heard her car start and she saw Lukehart drive away in her white Oldsmobile.  She also noticed that Gabrielle was not in the house.

Thirty minutes later Ms. Rhue received a call from Lukehart. He stated that an individual in a Blue Chevy Blazer had taken the child from the home and he was chasing them in her car. He asked her to call the police.

After 20 minutes, Ms. Rhue called the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Department. At approximately 6:00 p.m., Mr. Mobley, a witness, reported to the Clay County Sheriff’s Department that a car had run off the road close to his home and he could not find the driver.

While an officer from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Department was speaking with Ms. Rhue in her home, she received a call from the Clay County Sheriff’s Department. The officer relayed the information that Ms. Rhue’s car had been driven off the road in Clay County, and no one was in the car at the time it was located.

A search ensued in the surrounding area and neither the baby nor driver was found. Helicopters were used in the search, and their presence alerted Mr. Davis, an off duty Florida State Trooper who lived near the area. He went outside and found Lukehart in his front yard.

Lukehart walked up to Trooper Davis with his hands up and stated, “I’m the one they are looking for. Read me my rights.” Trooper Davis was not completely abreast of the situation, and he chose to handcuff Lukehart and then notified his dispatcher.

An officer from the Clay County Sheriff’s office retrieved Lukehart and took him back to the scene of the abandoned car. The officer kept Lukehart handcuffed and waited for an officer from Jacksonville’s Sheriff’s department to interview him because he was the only witness to the alleged abduction.

During this period of time, Lukehart made numerous comments to the officers, such as complaining about Gabrielle soiling her diaper, and wanted to know when he could tell his side of the story.

Lukehart stated that he had placed Gabrielle in the front seat of the Oldsmobile in front of Ms. Rhue’s house and that she had been abducted from the driveway. Lukehart could not describe the person who was driving the Blazer

The police questioned Lukehart at the police station, and he reiterated his second abduction story. Lukehart then stated that he would retrace his steps from Ms. Rhue’s home to the area in Clay County with law enforcement. Lukehart acquiesced that his first story was a lie.

He then stated that the baby had been abducted from a store when he went inside to buy Ms. Rhue and the child some roses. When at the store, the detectives saw that the details of the story were inaccurate, and Lukehart changed his story.

Lukehart then took the police to the place where the Oldsmobile had been found and told them that was where he had lost the Blazer.  

An intensive search was still being conducted for the child. The detective questioned Lukehart again and told him that he did not believe the abduction story. Approximately 18 hours after turning himself in, Lukehart finally admitted to killing the baby. He stated that had he dropped the child while changing her diaper and put her body in a pond in Jacksonville.


Trial Summary

03/07/96          Defendant indicted on the following chargers:

Count I:           First-Degree Murder
Count II: 
         Aggravated Child Abuse

03/08/96          Defendant was arraigned. Defendant stood mute and the court entered a plea of not guilty for him.

05/29/96          Public Defender, Lewis Buzzell III, entered a motion to withdraw as counsel.

06/06/96          Order allowing the public defender to withdraw and appointing new attorney, Michael Edwards.

02/27/97          The Defendant was found guilty on both counts.

03/14/97          The jury recommended the death penalty by a vote of nine to three.

04/04/97          Defendant was sentenced as follows:

Count I:           First-Degree Murder – Death
Count II: 
         Aggravated Child Abuse – 15 years, to run concurrent to Count I


Case Information

Lukehart filed his direct appeal on 03/12/97. The Florida Supreme Court issued an opinion on 06/22/00. The original opinion was withdrawn on 09/28/00 due to the fact that Justice Quince had to recuse herself.

Prior to her appointment to the Florida Supreme Court, Justice Quince had spoken with the Assistant Public Defender handling the direct appeal, Chet Kaufman, about the case. A revised opinion was issued on 09/28/2000. The Florida Supreme Court affirmed the convictions of first-degree murder and aggravated child-abuse, and the death sentence, but they remanded the case for resentencing on the aggravated child abuse conviction. 

The main claim of the appeal was the trial court’s denial to suppress statements made by Lukehart to law enforcement officers. Lukehart claimed that the statements were not voluntarily made. The Florida Supreme Court found no error in the trial court’s denial to suppress the statements.

Due to the fact that the trial court failed to fill out the sentencing guidelines score sheet, the Florida Supreme Court remanded the case for resentencing and directed the trial court to properly complete the guidelines score sheet. The rehearing was denied on 01/23/01 and the mandate was issued on 02/26/01.

A Petition for Writ of Certiorari was filed with the Unites Stated Supreme Court on 04/20/01. The Petition was denied on 06/25/01.

A 3.850 motion was filed with the circuit court on 09/27/01.  An amended motion was filed on 06/20/02 and a second amended motion was filed on 09/23/03.  The motion is still pending.

12/14/01 NMP

12/20/01 Approved WS

12/19/03  EMC Updated



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