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Bruce Douglas PACE





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Robbery
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: November 4, 1988
Date of arrest: Next day (surrenders)
Date of birth: December 12, 1959
Victim profile: Floyd Covington (taxi driver)
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Santa Rosa County, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on November 16, 1989

The United States Court of Appeals
For the Eleventh Circuit

opinion 07-15528

Florida Supreme Court

opinion 75056 opinion SC01-1831 & SC02-519

DC# 084643
DOB: 12/12/59 

First Judicial Circuit, Santa Rosa County Case# 88CF-689
Sentencing Judge:  The Honorable Ben Gordon
Attorneys, Trial:  Samuel Hall & Randall Ethridge – Special Public Defenders
Attorney, Direct Appeal:  W.C. McLain – Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, Collateral Appeals:  Paul Kalil – CCRC-South

Date of Offense:  11/04/88

Date of Sentence:  11/16/89

Circumstances of the Offense:

On 11/04/88, Barbara Mack spoke with her father, Floyd Covington, via the radio in his cab. Later that day she was unable to reach him using the same radio.

On 11/07/88, Frankie Covington, the victim’s daughter-in-law, filed a missing person’s report with Santa Rosa Sheriff’s Department. The police began a search for the missing cab driver.

Mr. Covington’s cab, a white Buick station wagon, was found in a wooded area. It had been covered with a pile of brush. The bloodstains in the cab revealed that the person sitting in the driver seat had been shot from the direction of the passenger seat. The blood was found to be type O, which was consistent with Mr. Covington’s blood type.

Covington had been shot twice in the chest with a shotgun while in the driver’s seat and then moved to the passenger seat. Mr. Convington’s body was found 12 miles away in another wooded area on 11/10/89. His wallet was found approximately 20 feet from the body.

The medical examiner testified that Mr. Covington had been shot two to seven days prior to the day that the body was found and that either shot alone could have been the cause of death. The plastic wadding and the shells were recovered from the body.

A witness stated that he had seen, while driving on Highway 87, a white station wagon taxicab around 10:30 a.m. the morning of 11/04/88. The cab was angled off the road in a grassy ditch. Due to the fact that he only observed the cab for a brief time, he could not give any characteristics of the driver, but he did report that he did not see anyone in the passenger seat. 

During the night of 11/03/88, Pace spoke with his cousin, Angela Pace, about money problems that he was having. Angela quoted Pace as saying, “There’s something that I do, I hate to do, but I want to have some money tomorrow.” Pace never specifically stated what he was going to do, but she knew that Pace sometimes did odd jobs for Mr. Covington.

A witness stated that she saw Mr. Covington and Pace in Mr. Covington’s taxi at approximately 9:30 a.m. on 11/04/88. Another witness stated that she saw Pace around 12:30 to 1:00 p.m. that same day. This witness stated that Pace did not appear wounded or upset, but his clothes were dirty.

On 11/05/88, Pace told his friend Michael Green that he had a gun that they could do some shooting with. Pace retrieved the shotgun gun from the bushes of an unoccupied building. Both shot the gun behind Mr. Green’s mother’s house. When Pace left, he did not take the shotgun with him. While at the house, Ms. Green had inquired about spots on Pace’s clothing. Pace replied that he had recently been squirrel hunting and it was squirrel blood.

Pace told his stepfather that Mr. Covington had driven him home on the morning of 11/04/88. Because Pace did not have a key, he was forced to enter the house through a window. Once inside he noticed that his brother’s shotgun was missing from the gun rack.

Pace claimed someone appeared behind him and choked him, rendering him unconscious. Pace stated that he woke up in the woods. He saw his brother’s shotgun and picked it up. He saw blood inside Mr. Covington’s cab. He then walked to the Green’s residence. After revealing all of this information to his stepfather, Pace voluntarily went to the sheriff’s office.

Additional Information:

Pace was convicted of Robbery with a Firearm on 06/21/82. He received nine years ten months probation, but he violated his probation on 12/04/81 and was convicted of Robbery with a Firearm on 06/21/82. He was sentenced to 15 years for violating probation. He was released on 03/10/87.

Trial Summary:

12/14/88          The Defendant was indicted for the following charges:

Count I:           First-Degree Murder

Count II:          Robbery with a Firearm

08/25/89          The Defendant was found guilty of all counts in the indictment

08/26/89          The jury recommended a sentence of death by a majority vote of 7 to 5.

11/16/89          The defendant was sentenced as follows:

Count I:           First-Degree Murder – Death

Count II:          Robbery with a Firearm – 15 years to concurrent to Count I  run            

Case Information:

Pace filed a Direct Appeal to the Florida Supreme Court on 11/27/90. The issues that he raised were that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to convict him, the trial court erred in admitting exculpatory statements in addition to not allowing the cross-examination of state witnesses concerning a third shotgun shell found at the scene.

The Court ruled that there was no abuse of discretion by the trial court and the cross-examination should have been allowed although the error was found to be harmless. The Court also stated that three of the aggravating factors were supported beyond a reasonable doubt and that the record supports the trial judge’s conclusion with regard to sentencing.

The Court affirmed Pace’s conviction and sentence on 03/26/92. The rehearing was denied on 05/18/92 and the mandate was issued on 06/17/92.

Pace filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the United States Supreme Court on 07/16/92. The petition was denied on 10/05/92.

Pace then filed a 3.850 Motion to the Circuit Court on 10/13/93. The motion was denied on 06/11/01. The Circuit Court set forth the reasons for the delay in processing the 3.850 Motion as the following: (1) Several changes in defense counsel, (2) CCR lacked funds and had too many cases pending with death warrants, (3) Lack of assigned counsel due to CCR’s reorganization, (4) CCR requested a continuance for the evidentiary hearing citing lack of funds, and (5) public records requests.

On 08/21/01, Pace filed a 3.850 Appeal to the Florida Supreme Court.  In his appeal, he claimed that his trial counsel was ineffective during the guilt phase because failed present a defense of voluntary intoxication or pursue an insanity defense.  He also claimed that his trial counsel failed to object to comments made by the prosecution during the guilt phase. 

Pace also argued that his counsel was ineffective during the penalty-phase because he did not properly investigate all mitigating circumstances pertaining to Pace.  Pace further contended that the prosecution withheld a fingerprint smudge report as well as a written reprimand of an investigator from the case.  Finally, Pace argued that certain agencies did not provide public records upon request. 

The Court found no reversible error in any of Pace’s claims and affirmed the trial court’s denial of his 3.850 Motion on 05/22/03.  A mandate was issued on 10/02/03.

On 03/04/02, Pace filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus to the Florida Supreme Court, which was denied 05/22/03.  A mandate was issued on 10/02/03.

On 11/14/03, Pace filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the United States Supreme Court.  The petition was denied on 01/20/04.

On 09/27/04, Pace filed a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus to the United States District Court, Northern District which is currently pending.



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