Juan Ignacio Blanco  


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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Rape - The body was never found
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: January 1, 1982
Date of arrest: May 1986
Date of birth: February 25, 1952
Victim profile: Patricia Gifford, 18
Method of murder: Strangulation
Location: Broward County, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on November 2, 1987

Supreme Court of the United States


Sochor v. Florida (91-5843), 504 U.S. 527 (1992)


Supreme Court of Florida


opinion 71407

opinion 01-885


AKA Paul Grant (W/M)

DC#  639131
DOB:  02/25/52

Seventeenth Judicial Circuit, Broward County, Case #86-15270
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Russell E. Seay, Jr.
Attorney, Trial: Charles Rich – Special Public Defender
Attorney, Direct Appeal: Gary Caldwell – Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, Collateral Appeals:  Paul Kalil – CCRC-S

Date of Offense:  01/01/82

Date of Sentence:  11/02/87

Circumstances of Offense:

Dennis Sochor was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Patricia Gifford.

According to the testimony of Gary Sochor, Dennis Sochor’s brother, he and Dennis met Patricia Gifford, the victim, at a lounge on New Year’s Eve of 1981. 

When it was time to leave the lounge, Gary said that Dennis and Gifford were kissing while he waited in the truck.  Gifford agreed to accompany Gary and Dennis to breakfast. 

Gary testified that Dennis drove to an isolated area with the victim sitting between the brothers in the truck.  Dennis then stopped the vehicle.  Gary claimed that Dennis assaulted Gifford while she screamed for help and that he tried to stop Dennis from assaulting the victim, but Dennis told him to get back in the truck.  A short time later, Dennis came back to the truck, and they went home. 

The next morning, Gary found a woman’s shoe, sweater, and a set of keys in Dennis’ truck.  He hid the keys.  Later on, Gary noted that the truck had been cleaned and the shoe and sweater had been removed.  Gary told Dennis about the keys and then gave the keys to Dennis because he demanded them.  Gary returned to Michigan a few days later.

A female friend of the victim, who had accompanied Gifford to the lounge, testified at trial.  She testified that they went to the lounge for a New Year’s Eve celebration.  The friend became sick during the night, and Gifford, with the help of the Sochor brothers, assisted the friend to her car.  Gifford’s friend awoke the next morning, realized that Gifford was missing and called the police. 

The police acquired a photo from the previous evening that showed Gifford with an unknown man.  The photo was displayed on television, and Dennis Sochor’s roommates testified that Sochor quickly left after seeing the photo of himself sitting near the victim at the bar on television. 

When the police learned that Gary Sochor had recently returned to Michigan, they interviewed him.  Gary told the police that Dennis Sochor was responsible for Gifford’s disappearance.  He also agreed to return to Florida to help find Gifford’s body.  The police were never able to find Gifford’s body.

Dennis Sochor was arrested in Georgia on unrelated charges and extradited to Florida. 

Three taped confessions made by Sochor while in police custody were played for the jury.  Sochor said that he had met Gifford at the lounge on New Year’s Eve, and they spent the evening talking.  In the parking lot, they kissed and Sochor wanted to have sex with Gifford.  She, however, refused, and they fought.  During the fight, Gifford hit him, and Sochor choked her. 

Sochor claimed that he thought he killed Gifford and drove to a secluded area to get rid of the body.  Dennis said that Gary was not with him during this part of the evening.  Dennis Sochor said that he threw away pieces of a woman’s clothing that he found in his truck. 

After seeing the photo of himself and the victim on television, he drove to Tampa in his employer’s truck and abandoned the truck there.  Sochor then went to New Orleans and on to Atlanta.  In 1986, Sochor was arrested in Georgia on unrelated criminal charges and then was extradited to Florida.

Additional Information

According to the victim, Sochor forced her out of a Fort Lauderdale cocktail lounge on 03/13/80.  He made her get into a vehicle and then drove to a remote area, forced her into a camper shell attached to the vehicle and sexually assaulted the victim.  The victim was able to escape and went back to the scene with an officer. 

Sochor claimed that he did not force the victim to get into the vehicle and that he drove in the direction of his home.  He further claimed that they had sexual relations and then he passed out.  Sochor was sentenced on 09/30/80 to 1 year in jail and 5 years on probation.  Sochor was resentenced on 11/02/87 to Life on the same count. 

Trial Summary:

10/09/86          Sochor was indicted on the following:

Count I:  First-Degree Murder
Count II:  Kidnapping during the Commission of a Felony

10/20/87          The jury found Sochor guilty of each count of the indictment.

10/21/87          Upon advisory sentencing, the jury, by a 10 to 2 majority, voted for the death penalty.

11/02/87          Sochor was sentenced as follows:

Count I:  First-Degree Murder – Death
Count II:  Kidnapping during the Commission of a Felony –22 years

Case Information:

Sochor filed his Direct Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court on 11/03/87.  The issues addressed included that there was insufficient evidence for a conviction of First-Degree Murder and that the trial court improperly admitted Sochor’s taped statements about the crimes because the victim’s body was never recovered.  Sochor further argued that the prosecution commented on facts not admitted as evidence, that government witnesses were allowed to testify about Sochor’s character, and that the state granted leniency to a fellow inmate for testifying against Sochor. 

The Florida Supreme Court did not find errors that warranted reversing the conviction or sentence and affirmed the conviction and sentence on 05/02/91.  Rehearing was denied on 06/18/91.  A mandate was issued on 07/18/91. 

On 09/16/91, Sochor filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court.  The Petition was granted, the Florida Supreme Court’s denial of Sochor’s Direct Appeal was vacated due to errors in the harmless error analysis, and the case was remanded to the Florida Supreme Court on 11/18/91. 

On remand, the Florida Supreme Court affirmed the conviction and sentence on 05/06/93.  Rehearing was denied on 06/14/93.  The mandate was issued on 07/14/93.

On 07/25/95, Sochor filed a 3.850 Motion in the circuit court.  The motion was denied on 03/28/01.

Sochor filed a 3.850 Appeal on 04/26/01.  The appeal is currently pending.

Sochor filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus on 08/13/02.  The petition is currently pending.


Dennis Sochor



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