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David Lee THOMAS





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Robbery - Drugs
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: April 26, 1990
Date of birth: October 13, 1965
Victim profile: Richard Houston
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Lee County, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on March 15, 1991

DC #717466
DOB:  10/13/65   

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

Date of Sentence:  03/15/91

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.


Trial Summary:

06/05/90          Defendant indicted on the following:

Count I:           First-Degree Murder

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 followed:

Count I:           First-Degree Murder - Death

Count II:          Attempted Robbery with a Firearm – 30 years


Case Information:

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 robberies” occurred. 

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 on 10/12/93.

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 pending.



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