First Judicial Circuit, Santa
Rosa County Case# 88CF-689
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable
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.
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 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.
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.
The Defendant was indicted for the following charges:
Count I: First-Degree Murder
Count II: Robbery with a Firearm
The Defendant was found guilty of all counts in the
The jury recommended a sentence of death by a
majority vote of 7 to 5.
The defendant was sentenced as follows:
Count I: First-Degree Murder – Death
Count II: Robbery with a Firearm – 15 years to
to Count I
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.
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
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.