Twentieth Judicial Circuit, Lee
County, Case #90-1058
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable
James R. Thompson
Attorney, Criminal Trial: Frank
Borter, Esq. - Private
Attorney, Direct Appeal: Douglas
S. Connor, Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, Collateral Appeals:
William Hennis and Roseanne Eckert – CCRC-S
Date of Offense: 04/26/90
Circumstances of Offense:
David Lee Thomas was convicted
and sentenced to death for the murder of Richard Houston.
On 04/26/90, Richard Houston
attempted to buy drugs in a low-income neighborhood of Fort Myers.
Houston waved a handful of money out the window, signaling a dealer to
approach the car.
A crack dealer came up to Houston’s car, but left
when Houston expressed that he did not want to purchase crack, but
rather powder cocaine. At that time, David Lee Thomas approached the
car and pulled gun on Houston.
When Houston attempted to flee, Thomas
fired several shots into the car, killing Houston.
Thomas confessed to the
shooting, but denied he ever intended to rob Houston.
indicted on the following:
Count I: First-Degree
Count II: Attempted Robbery
with a Firearm
02/22/91 The jury found the defendant guilty
on all counts charged in the indictment.
02/25/91 Upon advisory sentencing, the jury,
by a 9 to 3 majority, voted for the death penalty.
03/15/91 The defendant was sentenced as
First-Degree Murder - Death
Attempted Robbery with a Firearm – 30 years
Thomas filed a Direct Appeal in
the Florida Supreme Court on 04/08/91. In that appeal, he argued that
it was error to allow a State witness to describe the scene of the
shooting as a high-crime neighborhood where many “drug-related
Thomas also claimed that it was error to allow a
portion of his confession to remain on a redacted tape because it gave
the false impression that all five eyewitnesses heard him say he was
going to rob the victim, when, in fact, only two witness claimed that
Thomas was going to rob Houston.
The Florida Supreme Court agreed,
however, they deemed the error to be harmless. Lastly, Thomas argued
the 30-year habitual violent felony offender sentence that he received
for the attempted robbery. The Florida Supreme Court affirmed both the
convictions and the sentences imposed on 03/11/93.
Thomas next filed a Petition for
Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court, which was denied
Thomas then filed a 3.850 Motion
in the State Circuit Court on 02/28/95. Thomas has since filed three
amended motions and one consolidated motion. The motion is currently