The Commission on Capital Cases updates this information regularly. This information, however, is subject to change and may not reflect the latest status of an inmate’s case and should not be relied upon for statistical or legal purposes.


HEATH, Ronald (W/M)

DC #    065145

DOB:   07/06/61


Eighth Judicial Circuit, Alachua County Case # 89-3026

Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Robert P. Cates

Trial Attorney: Stephen Scheck – Special Public Defender

Attorney, Direct Appeal: David A. Davis – Assistant Public Defender

Attorney, Collateral Appeals: Robert Harper – Registry


Date of Offense:           05/24/89

Date of Sentence:         12/17/90


Circumstances of the Offense:


Ronald Heath and his live-in girlfriend, Penny Powell, drove to Heath’s grandmother’s house in Jacksonville.  Heath and Powell had an argument after which Powell returned to their residence in Douglas, Georgia.  Heath drove to Gainesville to visit some friends and was accompanied by his brother Kenneth. 


On the evening of May 24, 1989, Heath and Kenneth went to visit two of Heath’s friends who worked as waitresses at the Porpoise Lounge.  Over the course of the evening, the brothers initiated a conversation with a traveling salesman, Sheridan.  After purchasing the brothers a drink, he inquired as to whether they used marijuana.  At Heath’s suggestion, the brothers agreed to rob Sheridan at an alternate location.  Heath drove the trio in Kenneth’s vehicle to an isolated area in Alachua County.  Heath parked the vehicle on a dirt road and all three proceeded to exit the vehicle and smoke marijuana.  At this point, Heath made a pistol gesturing motion and asked Kenneth, “Did you get it?”  Kenneth reached under the seat of the car and came back with a small-caliber handgun.  Kenneth pointed the gun at Sheridan while informing him that he was being robbed.  Sheridan indicated that he was not going to give the brothers anything and, at Heath’s prompting, Kenneth shot Sheridan once in the chest.  As Sheridan began removing his possessions, Heath kicked him and used a hunting knife to stab him in the neck and unsuccessfully attempted to slit his throat.  Heath then told Kenneth to use the gun to kill Sheridan, and Kenneth proceeded to shoot him twice in the head.  They moved the body deeper into the woods and after they returned to the Porpoise, they relocated Sheridan’s rental car to another location and burned it after removing some items. 


The following day, the brothers purchased numerous items at a Gainesville mall using Sheridan’s credit cards.  Various store clerks in a photo lineup identified Heath, even though Kenneth signed all of the credit card slips.  The brothers stopped using the credit cards after being asked biographical questions they could not answer and returned to Jacksonville.  They threw the handgun into the St. John’s River, but it was never recovered. Heath returned to the trailer in Georgia, which he shared with Powell. 


Heath was arrested at his trailer several weeks after the murder for using the stolen credit cards.  The officers obtained permission to search the trailer from Powell.  The officers found several of the clothing items purchased using Sheridan’s credit cards as well as Sheridan’s watch.



Additional Information:


There was an indictment on both Ronald Heath and Kenneth Heath for the First-Degree Murder and Armed Robbery of Sheridan.  Also, there was another case where the brothers were indicted with offenses connected with the forgeries of the credit cards.  The two cases were consolidated on 11/06/90. Kenneth pled guilty to the charges in a plea agreement and agreed to testify about the robbery and murder of Sheridan.  For the murder conviction, the sentence that Kenneth received was life imprisonment without eligibility for parole for 25 years.


Trial Summary:


07/12/89          Indicted with the following:

 Count I:           First-Degree Murder                               

Count II:           Robbery with a Deadly Weapon

07/27/89          Charged by Information with the following:

Count III:         Conspiracy to Commit Uttering a Forgery 

Count IV:         Forgery

Count V:          Uttering a Forged Instrument

Count VI:         Forgery

Count VII:        Uttering a Forged Instrument

Count VIII:       Forgery 

Count IX:         Uttering a Forged Instrument 

09/13/89          Charged by an amended Information to include the following charges:

Count X:          Forgery 

Count XI:         Uttering a Forged Instrument 

Count XII:        Forgery

Count XIII:       Uttering a Forged Instrument 

Count XIV:      Forgery 

Count XV:        Uttering a Forged Instrument

Count XVI:      Forgery

Count XVII:     Uttering a Forged Instrument 

Count XVIII:    Forgery 

Count XIX:      Uttering a Forged Instrument 

                                    Count XX:        Forgery

                                    Count XXI:      Uttering a Forged Instrument 

11/15/90          Defendant was found guilty by the trial jury of First-Degree Murder,

Robbery with a Deadly Weapon, Conspiracy to Commit Uttering a

Forgery, and seven counts of Forgery and Uttering a Forgery.

11/27/90          The jury recommended Death by a vote of ten to two

12/17/90          Defendant was sentenced as follows:

Count I:            First-Degree Murder – Death                              Count II:        Robbery with a Deadly Weapon – Life sentence

Count III:         Conspiracy to Commit Uttering a Forgery - 6 mo.

Count VIII:       Forgery – 10 years

Count IX:         Uttering a Forged Instrument – 10 years

Count X:          Forgery – 10 years

Count XI:         Uttering a Forged Instrument – 10 years

Count XII:        Forgery – 10 years

Count XIII:       Uttering a Forged Instrument – 10 years

Count XIV:      Forgery – 10 years

Count XV:        Uttering a Forged Instrument – 10 years

Count XVI:      Forgery – 10 years

Count XVII:     Uttering a Forged Instrument – 10 years

Count XVIII:    Forgery – 10 years

Count XIX:      Uttering a Forged Instrument – 10 years

                                    Count XX:        Forgery – 10 years

                                    Count XXI:      Uttering a Forged Instrument – 10 years                       



Appeal Summary:


Florida State Supreme Court – Direct Appeal

FSC #77,234

648 So. 2d 660


01/16/91          Appeal filed.

10/20/94          FSC affirmed the conviction and sentence.

01/24/95          Rehearing denied.

02/24/95          Mandate issued.


United States Supreme Court – Petition for Writ of Certiorari

USSC #99-9009

515 U.S. 1162


04/24/95          Petition filed.

06/26/95          USSC denied petition.


State Circuit Court – 3.850 Motion

CC #89-3026


03/24/97          Motion filed.

08/02/04          Motion amended.

04/18/05          Motion amended.

03/29/06          Evidentiary Hearing held.

04/04/07          CC denied motion.


Florida Supreme Court – 3.850 Motion Appeal

FSC# 07-771

3 So. 3d 1017


04/25/07          Appeal filed.

01/29/09          Appeal denied.


United States District Court, Northern District – Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus

USDC# 09-00148



06/23/09          Petition filed.



Factors Contributing to the Delay in Imposition of Sentence:


The Direct Appeal took four years for a decision to be rendered.  The 3.850 motion was pending from 03/24/97 – 04/04/07.



Case Information:


A Direct Appeal was filed on 01/16/91.  Some of the issues raised included: (1) the trial court erred by admitting victim character evidence; (2) the trial court erred by admitting testimony regarding his desire to escape from jail; (3) The trial court erred by excluding Powell’s testimony regarding a statement made by Heath.  The Florida Supreme Court found all of these claims either without merit or harmless and affirmed the conviction and sentence of Death on 10/20/94.


A Petition for Writ of Certiorari was filed on 04/24/95 and denied on 06/26/95.


A 3.850 motion was filed with the circuit court on 03/24/97 and amended on 08/02/04 and 04/18/05.  On 03/29/06, an Evidentiary Hearing was held, and the motion was denied on 04/04/07. 


A 3.850 Motion Appeal was filed with the Florida Supreme Court on 04/25/07.  This appeal was denied on 01/29/09.


On 06/23/09, Heath filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in the United States District Court. This petition is pending.



Institutional Adjustment:





DATE     DAYS                     VIOLATION                                        LOCATION      

05/15/93      0                         UNAUTH PHY. CONTACT               FLORIDA STATE PRISON

05/01/94      0                         UNAUTH PHY. CONTACT               UNION C. I.        

11/03/94      0                         REF. SUB. ABUSE TEST                    UNION C. I.        

07/12/95      0                         UNAUTH USE OF DRUGS                UNION C. I.         

07/31/95      0                         POSS OF CONTRABAND                 UNION C. I.        

04/19/98      0                         DISORDERLY CONDUCT            UNION C. I.        

08/28/99      0                         DISOBEYING ORDER                         UNION C. I.        

01/06/03     60                        DISRESP.TO OFFICIALS                   UNION C. I.         

02/20/05      0                         UNAUTH PHY. CONTACT               UNION C. I.

03/18/05     15                        POSS OF CONTRABAND                 UNION C. I.

11/20/05     90                        UNAUTH PHY. CONTACT               UNION C.I.



11/13/01          cc

11/27/01          approved          ws

07/08/09          updated            klh