Juan Ignacio Blanco  


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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Robbery
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: June 16, 1986
Date of birth: December 29, 1960
Victim profile: Virgie Langford (grocery store owner)
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Manatee County, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on May 18, 1987. Resentenced on July 23, 1993

Supreme Court of Florida


opinion 70714

opinion 82142

opinion SC03-735


DC #573461
DOB: 12/29/60

Twelfth Judicial Circuit, Manatee County, Case #86-1225
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Alan R. Dakan
Resentencing Judge:  The Honorable Eugene L. Eastmoore
Attorney, Trial: Jim Slater – Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, Direct Appeal (1st and 2nd): Douglas S. Connor – Assistant Public Defender
Attorneys, Collateral Appeals:  Robert Strain & Carol Rodriguez – CCRC-M

Date of Offense:  06/16/86

Date of Sentence:  05/18/87

Date of Resentence:  07/23/93

Circumstances of Offense:

On 06/16/86, Melvin Trotter strangled and stabbed grocery store owner, Virgie Langford six times in the right side and once in the left, which disemboweled her.

Elenora Oates testified that she saw Trotter running from the direction of the Langford’s store on 06/16/86.  Trotter asked Oates if she knew where to buy crack-cocaine.  Oates went with Trotter to buy crack-cocaine and later accompanied Trotter to his mother’s home. 

Oates and Trotter spent the afternoon smoking crack-cocaine and watching television.  During that afternoon, Oates helped Trotter count money and food stamps, which he had tied in a red bandanna.  Trotter told Oates that he received the money and food stamps for doing a job.   

A truck driver found Langford after the attack, and she was still alive.  Langford was able to answer questions and described her attacker as a short black man wearing a Tropicana employee badge.  She was transported to the hospital and underwent an operation; however, Langford died later that night from cardiac arrest, which resulted from Langford’s injuries. 

The descriptions given by both the victim and witness matched that of Trotter.  Specifically, the employee identification tag led police to inquire about an employee named “Melvin” at Tropicana.  Furthermore, Trotter’s handprint was found on the meat cooler.  The police later retrieved a t-shirt from Trotter’s residence with a bloodstain on it matching the victim’s blood type.  

Additional Information:  

Trotter is a child that is the result of rape.  He grew up fatherless and suffered from emotional deprivation and physical abuse from his alcoholic mother.  He was placed into foster care when he was nine years old.  While in foster care, his foster father was placed in jail for aggravated battery and he was raised solely by his foster mother. 

Trotter claims that his foster care was abusive and unhealthy. The only close familial relationship Trotter ever had was with his sister.  While Trotter was in his late teens his sister was violently killed by gunshot.      

Trotter was interviewed by a clinical psychiatrist after being arrested.  The psychiatrist concluded that Trotter had an I.Q. in the range of 72.  He reported that Trotter is a slow learner, has impaired common sense, and is unable to plan or think ahead and is also unable to consider the consequences of his behavior. 

The psychiatrist described Trotter as someone who would not become violent unless he was in a situation which he perceived to be violent.  He also noted that Trotter’s sense of reality could be distorted and his inhibition reduced due to his cocaine use.

Manatee County Circuit Court #85-0463

On 01/13/85, Melvin Trotter and an accomplice kicked in the front door of E. Little’s residence.  Trotter held Little down while his accomplice ransacked the room looking for money.  Trotter was convicted of Burglary and Robbery and sentenced to two and one-half year sentences on 06/11/87.

Manatee County Circuit Court #86-1240 

In addition to the murder of Virgie Langford on 06/16/86, Trotter removed $100 and more than $30 in food stamps from the register in Langford’s store.  Trotter was sentenced to twelve years for Robbery with a Weapon.


Trial Summary:

06/20/86          Trotter was indicted on the following counts:

Count I: First-Degree Murder (Virgie Langford)

04/07/87          Trotter was found guilty for Count I of the indictment.

04/09/87          Upon advisory sentencing, the jury, by a 9 to 3 majority, voted for the death penalty.

05/18/87          Trotter was sentenced as follows:

Count I: First-Degree Murder (Virgie Langford) Death

12/20/90          FSC affirmed the conviction but reversed the sentence and remanded for resentencing.

04/21/93          While on remand from the Florida Supreme Court for resentencing, the jury voted, by an 11 to 1 majority, for the death penalty.

05/23/93          Trotter was sentenced as follows:

Count I: First-Degree Murder (Virgie Langford) Death


Case Information:

Trotter filed his first Direct Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court on 06/18/87.  The issues addressed included that the trial court erred in mishandling juror selection, that the trial court did not investigate extraneous influences on the jury, that the trial court did not dismiss the prosecutor who had previously defended Trotter in a criminal matter, that the trial court mishandled mitigating factors, and that the trial court found the murder to be heinous, atrocious, or cruel. 

The Florida Supreme Court did not find errors that warranted reversing the conviction; however, the Florida Supreme Court found that the trial court erred in handling the aggravating factors and reversed the sentence of death and remanded for resentencing on 12/20/90.  Rehearing was denied on 04/04/91.  A mandate was issued on 05/06/91. 

The trial court held a resentencing hearing, and the jury voted for death by a 11 to 1 majority on 04/21/93.  Trotter was sentenced to death on 07/23/93.

Trotter filed his second Direct Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court on 07/28/93.  The issues addressed included that the trial court mishandled aggravating factors.  The Florida Supreme Court did not find errors that warranted reversing the sentence and affirmed the sentence on 12/19/96.  Rehearing was denied on 04/04/97.  A mandate was issued on 05/05/97. 

Trotter filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court on 07/02/97.  The petition was denied on 10/06/97.

On 06/08/98, Trotter filed a 3.850 Motion in the Circuit Court.  Evidentiary hearings were held from 04/29/02 to 05/03/02 and 06/27/02.  The motion was denied on 03/20/03.

Trotter filed a 3.850 Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court on 04/24/03.  Trotter raised issues stating he is mentally retarded and the death sentence is disproportionate.  Trotter also argued ineffective assistance of counsel.  The Florida Supreme Court affirmed the denial of Trotter’s 3.850 Motion on 05/25/06.

Trotter filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in the Florida Supreme Court on 11/10/03.  Trotter first claimed that the death sentence is unconstitutional.  Second, he claimed he may be incompetent at the time of execution.  The court denied both claims stating that the second can not be reviewed until after a death warrant is signed.  Trotter’s petition was denied on 05/25/06.

On 11/26/04, Trotter filed a 3.851 Motion in the Circuit Court.  The motion is currently pending.



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