Date of Sentence: 05/18/87
Date of Resentence: 07/23/93
Circumstances of Offense:
Melvin Trotter strangled and stabbed grocery store owner, Virgie
Langford six times in the right side and once in the left, which
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.
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
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
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.
06/20/86 Trotter was indicted on the following counts:
Count I: First-Degree
04/07/87 Trotter was found guilty for Count I of the
advisory sentencing, the jury, by a 9 to 3 majority, voted for the death
05/18/87 Trotter was sentenced as follows:
Count I: First-Degree
affirmed the conviction but reversed the sentence and remanded for
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
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.
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
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.
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.
11/26/04, Trotter filed a 3.851 Motion in the Circuit Court. The motion
is currently pending.