february 3. 2014 (orlandosentinel)
From the witness stand, the man who kidnapped, raped and strangled a Longwood used car lot receptionist asked jurors to give him the death penalty, and they did.
Today a government lawyer who defends death row inmates asked the Florida Supreme Court to go against his wishes and throw out his death sentence.
William Roger Davis III, 35, killed Fabiana Malave, Oct. 29, 2009. According to evidence at his trial, he abducted her at knifepoint from Super Sport Auto, the small car lot on U.S. Highway 17-92 in Longwood where she worked, drove her to the Orlando house where he lived, raped her then ordered her to get dressed and to get back on his bed, where he strangled her.
He then loaded her body into his SUV and drove around for hours before parking a few dozen feet from where he had abducted her, where Seminole County deputies spotted his vehicle then arrested him. Today, Davis was not on trial before the Florida Supreme Court. The judge who gave him the death penalty, Circuit Judge John Galluzzo of Sanford, was.
Nancy J. Ryan, a Daytona Beach assistant public defender, argued that Galluzzo made three technical errors in imposing the death sentence, reason enough to send the case back to Seminole County for a new hearing.
One of the biggest was that he didn’t give enough weight to Davis’ mental state at the time of the homicide, she said.
Davis and four mental health experts testified that he suffers from bipolar disorder and that he had been off his medication for a year and a half when he killed Malave.
His testimony about why he killed Malave was chilling.
“I don’t really have an answer for that,” he told a Seminole County Sheriff’s detective a few hours after the homicide. He went on to add that killing someone felt “pretty interesting. … squeeze the life out of somebody. … I feel liberated.”
And when asked if he’d do it again, his answer, “Oh, yeah.”
Galluzzo gave great weight to Davis’ testimony that if given the opportunity, he’d again go off his medication and would likely do violence to someone else, Ryan pointed out.
He focused too much on that and not enough on the fact that Davis suffered from an extreme emotional disturbance at the time, Ryan argued.
But Assistant Attorney General Stacey Kircher today told justices that Davis was not in an extreme emotional state.
“He does not appear to suffer from hallucinations,” she said. “He was very calm, reflective.”
After killing Malave, he put her body in his SUV and drove to a restaurant, to a music store to play with instruments, to a park to smoke, Kircher argued.
What he was doing, she said, was killing time until it got dark, when he planned to put Malave’s body back in her car at the car lot.
Justices made no decision today but asked questions of both attorneys.
Justice Barbara Pariente suggested that even if Galluzzo did not give enough weight to Davis’ mental state, there were many other valid legal reasons, carefully spelled out in the judge’s sentencing order, why the death penalty was the right sentence.
A Seminole County jury voted 7-5 to recommend death two years ago. The same jury had earlier rejected Davis’ argument that he was innocent because he was insane.