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Ernest D. SUGGS





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Robbery
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: August 6, 1990
Date of birth: August 8, 1955
Victim profile: Pauline Casey (bar employee)
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Walton County, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on July 15, 1992

Supreme Court of Florida


opinion 80340

opinion SC03-1330


DC#  220267
DOB:  08/08/55

First Judicial Circuit, Walton County, Case #90-338-CF
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Laura Melvin
Attorney, Trial: Robert Kimel and Doral Steward – Private
Attorney, Direct Appeal: Larry D. Simpson – Private
Attorney, Collateral Appeals:  Hilliard Moldof – Private

Date of Offense: 08/06/90

Date of Sentence: 07/15/92

Circumstances of Offense:

Ernest Suggs was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Pauline Casey. 

Pauline Casey worked at the Teddy Bear Bar in Walton County.  On 08/06/90, the bar was found unlocked and cash was missing.  Furthermore, Casey’s purse, keys, and car were found at the bar, but the victim was not. 

Ray Hamilton, a neighbor of Casey’s, reported to police that Casey and a customer, who he did not recognize, were playing pool when he left.  The police were put on alert looking for the man and the man’s car that matched Hamilton’s description. 

Ernest Suggs was pulled over based on the description of the car.  Suggs permitted police to search his home and car.  They found $170 in small bills, hand and fingerprints belonging to Casey in Suggs’ car, and blood that matched the victim’s blood on a shirt belonging to Suggs. 

In the bay behind Suggs’ residence, the police also found a key to the bar and a beer mug similar to the beer mugs at the Teddy Bear Bar.  The police matched Suggs’ tire tracks from his automobile to tracks found on a local dirt road. 

In a search of this area, police found Casey’s body a short distance from the road on which the tire tracks were found.  She was stabbed twice in the neck and once in the back.  Suggs was arrested after the discovery of Casey’s body.  Ernest Suggs asserted that he had been framed for the murder of Casey.

Trial Summary:

08/22/90          Suggs was indicted on the following counts:

Count I:           First-Degree Murder (Pauline Casey)

Count II:          Kidnapping

Count III:         Armed Robbery with a Deadly Weapon

09/07/90          Suggs was found guilty on all counts charged in the indictment.

06/09/92          Upon advisory sentencing, the jury, by a 7 to 5 majority, voted for the death penalty.

07/15/92          Suggs was sentenced as follows:

Count I:            First-Degree Murder (Pauline Casey) Death

Count II:           Kidnapping22 years, less 709 days credit time served

Count III:         Armed Robbery with a Deadly Weapon 12 years, less 709 days credit time served

Case Information:

Ernest Suggs filed his Direct Appeal with the Florida Supreme Court on 08/17/92.  He raised several issues on Direct Appeal.  Suggs argued that the judge erred in allowing another judge to testify on behalf of the state, in not suppressing evidence collected from Suggs’ home, in not granting Suggs’ motion for a mistrial, in admitting a book called Deal the First Deadly Blow, and in the handling of aggravating factors.  Suggs also contended that certain actions of the prosecutor denied Suggs a fair trial and that the evidence did not sustain a conviction on the kidnapping charge. 

The Florida Supreme Court did not find errors that warranted reversing the conviction or sentence.  The Florida Supreme Court affirmed the conviction and sentence on 09/01/94.  Rehearing was denied on 10/25/94.  A Mandate was issued on 11/29/94.

Suggs filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court on 02/23/95.  The United States Supreme Court denied the petition on 04/24/95.

Suggs filed a 3.850 Motion in the Walton County Circuit Court on 01/24/97.  The case was transferred to Judge Lewis Lindsey because Judge Laura Melvin retired.  The case then was transferred to Judge Remington of Okaloosa County in June of 2000.  The 3.850 Motion, filed on 01/24/97, was denied on 06/12/03.

Suggs filed a 3.850 Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court on 07/18/03.  On 11/17/05, the Florida Supreme Court affirmed the denial of Suggs’ 3.850 Motion.

Suggs filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in the Florida Supreme Court on 02/16/04.  The petition was denied on 11/17/05.

On 06/07/06, Suggs filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in the United States District Court, North District.  The petition is currently pending.


Ernest Suggs



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