Tronneal Mangum (14, Male), Student
Occurred on Jan 27, 1997
14 year-old John Kamel was shot
in the chest at 8:40 a.m. outside school on a sidewalk by 14 year-old
Tronneal Mangum, after an argument over an Adidas watch that Mangum
had taken from Kamel.
Tough Juvenile Justice
Boy, 15, Gets Life For Killing Classmate
By Nicole Sterghos - Sun-Sentinel.com
January 16, 1998
Tronneal Mangum became the unwilling poster child
in the crusade against juvenile violence on Thursday when the
15-year-old was ordered to spend the rest of his life in prison for
murdering a classmate.
The mandatory sentence was triggered the moment a
jury convicted Mangum of first-degree murder for gunning down his
friend, Johnpierre Kamel, on the steps of their West Palm Beach middle
school last year.
Because he is younger than 16, Mangum was not
eligible for the death penalty.
A clearly disgusted Circuit Judge Roger Colton
implored the community to use the case to initiate a dialogue with
children about the scourge of guns and violence.
"I find it difficult faced with the waste of our
young people,'' Colton said in a 10-minute lecture before sentencing
Mangum. "The waste of Johnpierre. The waste of Tronneal. For what?
What can we do? Where does it begin?''
Colton, in his last major case before moving to the
civil division next month, decried what he called the ``movie macho
image'' and bravado that seem to compel young boys to glorify
In Palm Beach County, for example, the number of
violent felonies committed by children younger than 17 rose
dramatically in 1996. That year, there were 69 percent more armed
robberies committed by youths and 12 percent more assaults.
"Are we turning into a society of, 'Let's just get
a gun and handle our business?' '' Colton asked. "What a waste, an
absolute waste, to both families involved in this tragic, tragic
Mangum and Kamel, neither of whom had a history of
violence, were arguing over a wristwatch on Jan. 27 when Mangum pulled
a .38-caliber pistol from his pocket. He squeezed the trigger three
times, hitting Kamel in the chest with one of the blasts.
The 14-year-old only son of Egyptian-born parents,
Kamel died minutes later on the curb in front of Conniston Middle
With the verdict, Mangum became the youngest person
in Palm Beach County ever sentenced to life without parole. While
there are others younger than him who have been sentenced to life, he
is the youngest to be sentenced since a law took effect in 1996
barring parole in the case of life terms.
While Mangum's conviction closed the case, his
trial never answered one of the key mysteries behind the crime: Where
did Mangum get the gun?
Federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms officials
traced the weapon, but came up empty when they discovered that it was
stolen years ago from the last owner's car
State Attorney Barry Krischer, who prosecuted the
case himself, said one thing was clear: Mangum did not buy the gun _
valued at $200 _ off the streets of his crime-ridden neighborhood.
Someone had to have given it to him, and Mangum won't say who.
"John Kamel's blood and Tronneal's wasted life are
on whoever gave him that gun,'' Krischer said outside the courtroom
after the verdict. "That's who should be in the (cell) next to
Krischer's remarks echoed those made by Colton
"Who in their right mind would give a 14-year-old a
gun,'' Colton said.
Mangum, who at 6 feet, 2 inches tall towers over
his attorney, sat emotionless as the verdict was read. As the judge
handed down his life sentence, the boy wiped tears from his eyes and
refused to make eye contact with anyone.
His attorney, Peter Grable, had argued that the
shooting was self-defense, that Mangum armed himself only because he
feared that Kamel and his friends were going to beat him up if he did
not return Kamel's Adidas watch.
"Tronneal did not go to school to assassinate John
Kamel,'' Grable told jurors.
But in his closing arguments on Thursday, Krischer
scoffed at the idea of Mangum being afraid of Kamel, who had a
prosthetic leg. He also suggested that Mangum had every opportunity to
walk away from the argument, but that he actually called Kamel over to
"[Mangum) knew all he had to do is kick him [Kamel)
in the leg and he'd drop like a rock,'' Krischer told jurors, adding
that he could have shot the bigger friends whom Mangum feared the
most. "Why shoot the little guy?''
During deliberations, several jurors debated
whether Krischer proved that Mangum planned the shooting.
Cedrick Harris, who rode the bus with Mangum to
school that day, testified that he overheard Mangum telling another
boy that he was going to use the gun "to shoot John.'' The jurors
asked to hear Harris' testimony again just before reaching their
Many of the jurors contacted on Thursday were
emotionally drained and unwilling to comment on the case.
"It's a sad case any way you look at it,'' said
juror Robert Marks of Jupiter. "Nobody wins. The judge basically said
it was a waste of two lives, and that's what it was.''
After the verdict, Grable said his defense was
crippled by the court's refusal to allow several sophisticated
psychiatric exams to be performed on Mangum, who he said has suffered
brain damage from a car accident.
The attorney planned to use the tests to show
Mangum is not mentally fit and should have had an adult present when
he gave his confession to police hours after the shooting.
Grable said he plans to appeal.
District Court of Appeal of Florida, Fourth
Mangum v. State
Tronneal L. MANGUM, Appellant, v. STATE of Florida, Appellee.
July 19, 2000
Richard L. Jorandby, Public Defender, and Steven H.
Malone, Assistant Public Defender, West Palm Beach, for
appellant.Robert A. Butterworth, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and
Sarah B. Mayer, Assistant Attorney General, West Palm Beach, for
We affirm Mangum's conviction and life sentence for
first-degree murder with a firearm and possession of a weapon on
school property. Mangum raised five issues on appeal; we address
The facts leading up to the convictions are as
follows. Mangum brought a loaded handgun to school and fired three
shots at the victim, killing him. Following the shooting, several
officers searched the school and found Mangum in his assigned
classroom. When the officers entered the classroom, Mangum stood up,
raised his arms, and said, “I give up, it was just an argument.”
Mangum confessed and gave a voluntary statement to the police.
According to his statement, Mangum had personal
problems with the victim stemming from a disagreement over a watch.
Mangum stated that the victim let him hold his watch. When Mangum
would not return it, a conflict ensued. On the day before the
shooting, a friend of the victim tried to take the watch off Mangum's
wrist. When Mangum refused to let go of the watch, the friend
threatened him. The next day, Mangum brought a handgun to school.
Mangum stated that he was protecting himself when he shot the victim.
A classmate testified that Mangum ran up to him in
the hallway just after the shooting and placed the handgun in his
hand, but he gave it back to Mangum. At this time, Mangum stated, “I
just shot somebody” and then ran down the hallway. The witness
walked to his next class and saw Mangum standing behind a portable.
The police later recovered the gun near that location.
Mangum was declared indigent shortly before trial.
Clinical evaluations were initiated on Mangum in the Palm Beach
County Jail. Psychological testing included the administration of the
Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) and the Wexler
Intelligence Scale for Children-Revised (WISC-R). The MMPI results
indicated that Mangum suffered from perceptual disturbances,
hallucinations, and delusional thinking. The WISC-R results showed
that Mangum had a low IQ. Further, the WISC-R results provided
evidence of impairment in both the left and right hemispheres of
Mangum's cerebral cortex. According to Dr. Robert M. Berland, expert
witness for the defense, cortical injury “adversely affects one's
ability to perceive things and to think accurately and realistically.”
Shortly before trial, defense counsel moved for
funds to have a Positron Emission Tomography Scan (PET-Scan) test
performed. Defense counsel argued, in support of the motion for
funds, that Mangum had a history of traumatic injuries. The defense
sought the new test because it might confirm whether physical injury
to the brain had impaired its function. According to Dr. Berland, a
PET-Scan would determine whether Mangum's injuries affected “both his
reasoning and judgment on the one hand, and his mental health on the
other.” Such information could be used by the defense to demonstrate
that Mangum lacked the requisite mental capacity to either waive his
Miranda rights, given prior to his statement, or form the specific
intent necessary to commit first-degree murder. Defense counsel
advised the court that a PET-Scan would cost approximately $5,500.00
and could only be administered in Jacksonville, Florida.
The state countered that the test was unnecessary
because defense counsel was not proceeding under an insanity defense.
Further, the state argued that defense counsel did not seek to
determine whether Mangum was competent, but only sought evidence that
prior injuries might be a contributing factor. The state also
expressed concern about the cost and noted that moving Mangum to
Jacksonville created a security issue. The trial court denied the
Appellant claims there was insufficient evidence to
support a conviction for first-degree, premeditated murder. Our
review of the record reveals sufficient evidence from which the jury
could conclude that the homicide was premeditated. See Spencer v.
State, 645 So.2d 377, 381 (Fla.1994), limited on other grounds by
Rodriguez v. State, 753 So.2d 29 (Fla.2000); State v. Law, 559 So.2d
187 (Fla.1989); Wilson v. State, 493 So.2d 1019 (Fla.1986). Mangum
obtained the gun two days before the shooting. On the morning of the
shooting, Mangum pointed the handgun directly at the victim and fired
three shots at close range, striking the victim in the heart.
Numerous witnesses, classmates, friends, and school personnel
testified that prior to the shooting, they saw Mangum call to the
victim, who was across the street. The victim crossed the street and
walked over to Mangum. One witness saw Mangum pull out a gun, point
it at the victim, and fire three shots. Other witnesses saw the
victim and Mangum arguing in front of the school. One heard the
victim say, “no man” and “no, I don't want to fight,” immediately
before the three gunshots. Another witness, albeit whose competency
was called into question by the defense, testified that on the morning
of the shooting, he rode the school bus with Mangum and heard him say
that he was going to shoot the victim.
We further conclude that the trial court did not
abuse its discretion in denying a request for funds for neurological
testing, which the defense contends would have provided additional
insight into Mangum's mental capacity at the time of the shooting.
See San Martin v. State, 705 So.2d 1337, 1347 (Fla.1997), cert.
denied, 525 U.S. 841, 119 S.Ct. 105, 142 L.Ed.2d 84 (1998). In San
Martin, the supreme court asserted that in evaluating a court's
refusal to provide funding, the reviewing court should consider: “(1)
whether the defendant made a particularized showing of need; and (2)
whether the defendant was prejudiced by the court's denial of the
motion.” Id. (citing Dingle v. State, 654 So.2d 164, 166 (Fla. 3d DCA
1995)). Here, there was no showing of need or prejudice.
Mangum relies on Hoskins v. State, 702 So.2d 202
(Fla.1997), wherein the supreme court ordered a new penalty phase
proceeding where the trial court improperly denied the defendant's
request for a PET-Scan. In Hoskins, the expert testified that the
PET-Scan was necessary for him to render a definitive opinion
regarding the defendant's mental condition. Consequently, the
supreme court held it was error to deny the option for the PET-Scan
and remanded the case with instructions to the trial court to consider
whether the expert's opinion would change after the defendant was
tested. See id. at 209-10. On remand, the trial court found that
the expert's opinion changed based solely on the PET-Scan results.
See Hoskins v. State, 735 So.2d 1281 (Fla.1999). The supreme court
then remanded the cause for a new penalty phase proceeding. See id.
Hoskins is distinguishable. In this case, the
defense expert had previously administered psychological tests on
Mangum and had concluded that Mangum suffered from a psychotic
disturbance and experienced delusional paranoid thinking and
perceptual disturbance, including hallucinations. The state expert
also administered tests on Mangum, but could not substantiate the
defense expert's findings because Mangum did not answer truthfully.
The defense expert agreed that Mangum had attempted to fake the
outcome of the testing when examined by the state expert. For this
reason, the defense requested the PET-Scan in order to confirm the
defense expert's findings that Mangum suffered prior injury causing
him to experience delusions.
In Robinson v. State, 761 So.2d 269 (Fla.1999),
cert. denied, 529 U.S. 1057, 120 S.Ct. 1563, 146 L.Ed.2d 466 (2000),
the supreme court found no error in the trial court's denial of the
defendant's request for a SPECT scan where the experts did not testify
that the test was necessary to form their medical opinion, but only
that the exam results would confirm the experts' already established
opinions. In this case, as in Robinson, the trial court could
conclude that the test was not needed for the experts to form an
opinion, nor was it requested in order to rebut evidence adduced by
the state or to develop the theory of defense. As the test was
requested simply to confirm the expert's initial conclusions, we find
the trial court had discretion to decide that Mangum failed to make an
adequate showing of need for the neurological test.
Further, Mangum failed to show that he was
prejudiced by the denial of his request. At trial, Mangum did not
present any evidence that he suffered from delusions or
hallucinations. Rather, Mangum argued that he shot the victim in
self-defense. Had the defense asserted that Mangum lacked the
requisite mental capacity to form the specific intent necessary to
commit first-degree murder, it could have relied on expert testimony,
as well as the MMPI and the WISC-R responses. Additionally, even if
there were some indication in the record that an insanity defense was
planned, the sparsity of the information furnished to the court with
regard to the need for the test and the absence of any showing that
there were no other alternatives, would, in any event, support the
trial court's exercise of discretion.
As to all other issues raised, we also find no
reversible error or abuse of discretion and affirm.
DELL and TAYLOR, JJ., concur.
Tronneal Mangum in 1997.
Tronneal Mangum, who shot fellow seventh-grader John
Pierre Kamel just off the Conniston Middle School campus in West Palm
Beach years ago, in court in July 2009 to argue that his lawyer messed
up. (Lannis Waters/The Palm Beach Post)