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Kenneth WATSON





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Robbery
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: October 31, 1988
Date of birth: February 23, 1963
Victim profile: Ella Hickman
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Dade County, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on November 6, 1991

Florida Supreme Court


opinion 79139


DC# 084224
DOB: 02/23/63 

Eleventh Judicial Circuit, Dade County, Case #88-38759
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Juan Ramirez, Jr.
Attorneys, Trial: Herbert Smith & Patrick Nally – Assistant Public Defenders
Attorney, Direct Appeal: Robert Kalter – Assistant Public Defender
Attorneys, Collateral Appeals: Rachael Day - CCRC-S

Date of Offense: 10/31/88

Date of Sentence: 11/06/91

Circumstances of Offense:

On 10/31/88, Ella Hickman returned home and interrupted a burglary in progress.  The assailant attacked Hickman and stabbed her six times with a long, sharp and slender object.  One of the stab wounds severed her carotid artery, which resulted in extreme blood loss and ultimately caused her death.  

Investigators linked forensic evidence at the crime scene to Kenneth Watson.  He was charged with First-Degree Murder, Burglary with an Assault and Armed Robbery.


Trial Summary:

08/01/90          The defendant was indicted on the following charges:

Count I:            First-Degree Murder

Count II:          Armed Burglary with an Assault

Count III:         Armed Robbery

10/08/91         The jury found the defendant guilty on all counts charged in the indictment.     

10/16/91          Upon advisory sentencing, the jury, by a 10-2 majority, voted for the death penalty.

11/06/91           The defendant was sentenced as follows:

Count I:            First-Degree Murder - Death

Count II:           Armed Burglary with an Assault - Life

Count III:          Armed Robbery - Life


Case Information:

On 12/30/91, Watson filed a Direct Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court.  In that appeal, he argued that the trial court erred in denying his challenges for cause for two potential jurors and, as a result, he was forced to exhaust his peremptory challenges.  Watson argued that he was on trial before “objectionable jurors.”  Watson also contended that the trial court erred by denying his motion for additional peremptory challenges.  The trial court did grant one additional challenge.  The Florida Supreme Court ruled, “When impartiality is compromised, a conviction must be reversed.”  As such, the court reversed Watson’s convictions and sentence of death and remanded for a new trial.  A motion for rehearing was entertained and granted on 11/03/94.  The Florida Supreme Court withdrew its previous opinion and substituted it with a revised opinion, which affirmed Watson’s convictions and sentence.  After closer examination of trial court record and transcripts, the Florida Supreme Court noted that only one juror was potentially objectionable and could have been removed from the jury with the additional peremptory granted by the trial court.  The Florida Supreme Court found no merit to any other issue raised by Watson in his Direct Appeal. 

On 06/19/95, Watson filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the United States Supreme Court that was subsequently denied on 10/02/95.

Watson filed a 3.850 Motion in the State Circuit Court which was granted on 10/02/03.  The case was remanded for resentencing.  The State appealed that decision in the Florida Supreme Court on 11/10/03.  Watson also filed a Cross Appeal.



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