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 on for statistical or legal purposes.


BURNS, Daniel Jr. (B/M)

DC #   111918

DOB: 01/29/45


Twelfth Judicial Circuit, Manatee County, Case #87-2014

Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Stephen L. Dakan

Resentencing Judge: The Honorable Paul Logan

Trial Attorneys: Diana Allen & Mary Ann Stiles – Private

Attorney, Direct Appeal: Paul Helm – Assistant Public Defender

Attorney, Direct Appeal Resentencing: Paul Helm – Assistant Public Defender

Attorney, Collateral Appeals: Mark Gruber – CCRC-M


Date of Offense:                     08/18/87 

Date of Sentence:                   06/02/88

Date of Resentencing:            07/06/94         


Circumstances of Offense:


Daniel Burns, Jr. was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Jeff Young during a traffic stop on 08/18/87.


Daniel Burns, Jr. and Samuel Williams were returning to Detroit from Ft. Myers when Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Jeff Young pulled them over on Interstate 75.  According to Williams’ testimony, Trooper Young came up to the vehicle and asked for identification.  Trooper Young then returned to his patrol car where he radioed dispatch for a wanted persons search and a registration check on Burns’ Michigan tag.  Trooper Young next asked Burns if he could search the vehicle, and Burns consented.  Upon searching the trunk and finding what appeared to be cocaine, Trooper Young and Burns began to struggle.  According to witness testimony, Burns and Trooper Young were fighting in a water-filled ditch when Burns grabbed Trooper Young’s gun and pointed it at him.  Trooper Young threw his hands in front of his face as Burns fired one shot, which hit Trooper Young’s wedding ring and struck him in the head.  Trooper Young was dead by the time additional troopers arrived at the scene.  Medical examiners testified that the shot was fired at such a close range as to leave gunpowder on Trooper Young’s face.


Burns fled on foot and was apprehended later that night.  Williams testified that Burns was making several trips to Florida to in order to purchase $10,000 worth of cocaine.


Trial Summary:


08/18/87          Defendant arrested.

08/25/87          Defendant indicted on:

                                    Count I:           First-Degree Murder

                                    Count II:         Cocaine Trafficking

05/17/88          The jury found the defendant guilty on both counts.

05/17/88          Upon advisory sentencing, the jury, by a 10 to 2 majority, voted for the

death penalty.

06/03/88          The defendant was sentenced as followed:

                                    Count I:           First-Degree Murder – Death

                                    Count II:         Cocaine Trafficking – 30 years

12/24/92          The Florida Supreme Court affirmed Burns’ convictions, but remanded for

new sentencing before a jury.    

04/19/94          The new sentencing jury, by a 12 to 0 majority, voted for the death


07/06/94          The defendant was resentenced as followed:

                                    Count I:           First-Degree Murder – Death

                                    Count II:         Cocaine Trafficking – 30 years          


Additional Information:


On 12/17/04, the Florida Supreme Court relinquished jurisdiction to the Circuit Court to determine if Burns is mentally retarded.  On 06/27/05, the Circuit Court determined that

Burns is not mentally retarded mental retardation claim. 


Appeal Summary:


Florida Supreme Court – Direct Appeal

FSC #72,638

609 So. 2d 600


06/27/89          Appeal filed.

05/16/91          FSC affirmed the convictions, but remanded for resentencing.

12/24/92          FSC vacated its earlier ruling and issued a revised opinion. 

12/24/92          Rehearing denied.

01/22/93          Mandate issued.


Florida Supreme Court – Direct Appeal, Resentencing

FSC #84,299

699 So. 2d 646


09/02/94          Appeal filed.

07/10/97          FSC affirmed the sentence of death.

09/17/97          Rehearing denied.

10/07/97          Mandate issued.


United States Supreme Court – Petition for Writ of Certiorari

USSC #97-6940

522 U.S. 1121


11/24/97          Petition filed.

02/23/98          Petition denied.


State Circuit Court – 3.850 Motion

CC #87-2014


06/08/98          Motion filed.

12/18/00          Motion denied.


Florida Supreme Court – 3.850 Motion Appeal

FSC #SC01-166

944 So.2d 234


01/22/01          Appeal filed.

11/02/06          FSC affirmed denial of motion


Florida Supreme Court – 3.203 Appeal (Mental Retardation)

FSC# 05-1300

913 So.2d 595


07/14/05          Appeal filed.

09/15/05          Appeal closed and claims included in case number 01-166.


United States District Court, Middle District—Petition for Habeas Corpus

USDC # 07-01275



07/20/07          Petition filed.


State Circuit Court – 3.850 Motion

CC #87-2014


10/19/07          Successive Motion filed.

01/10/08          Motion denied.


Florida Supreme Court − 3.850 Appeal

FSC# 08-192

3 So. 3d 316


02/11/08          Appeal filed.

01/29/09          Appeal denied.


Factors Contributing to the Delay in the Imposition of the Sentence:


Burns’ initial Direct Appeal took over three years to resolve, and the appellate process was again delayed due to the order for resentencing issued by the Florida Supreme Court.  Burns’ Direct Appeal following resentencing also took approximately three years to complete. 


Burns’ 3.850 Motion Appeal was pending from 01/22/01 – 11/02/06.


Case Information:


Burns filed his Direct Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court on 06/27/89.  Burns raised many issues in this appeal to which the court gave little or no response.  Burns, however, urged that the trial court erred when it allowed character and background evidence of the victim to be presented to the jury, and erred in its application of the heinous, atrocious, and cruel (HAC) aggravating factor.  While Burns argued that unfairly prejudiced both the guilt and penalty phases of the trial, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the introduction of such evidence only deprived Burns of a fair sentencing.  The Florida Supreme Court noted the preponderance of evidence of Burns’ guilt, and therefore ruled that, even without the prejudicial testimony, the jury would have enough evidence to convict Burns of murder. The court also examined Burns’ HAC claim and found that the aggravator was inappropriately applied.  As such, the Florida Supreme Court affirmed the convictions but remanded the case for new sentencing proceedings on 05/16/91.  On 12/24/92, the Florida Supreme Court vacated its earlier decision and issued a clarified opinion on Burns’ Direct Appeal, explaining that in the absence of the HAC aggravator, the jury would have only one aggravating factor to weigh against one mitigating factor, and no way to hypothesize a jury’s recommendation in such a circumstance.  In addition, the court noted the prejudicial victim evidence entitled Burns to a new penalty phase before a jury.  On 12/24/92, the Florida Supreme Court again affirmed the convictions and remanded for resentencing.


Burns filed a Direct Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court on 09/02/94.  Burns contended that the court erred in denying his request to instruct the jury regarding his right to remain silent and again disputed the admission of victim character and background evidence.  Burns also argued that his case was one of the most mitigated and least aggravated.  The Florida Supreme Court affirmed the sentence of death on 07/10/97.


On 11/24/97, Burns filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court, which was denied on 02/23/98.


On 06/08/98, Burns filed a 3.850 Motion to Vacate Judgment and Sentence in the State Circuit Court, which was denied on 12/18/00. 


Burns filed a 3.850 Motion Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court on 01/22/01.  On 12/17/04, the FSC relinquished jurisdiction to the Circuit Court for a mental retardation claim.  On 06/27/05, the CC denied the mental retardation claim.  On 11/02/06, the FSC affirmed the denial of the motion.


Burns filed a 3.203 Appeal on 07/14/05 that was closed on 09/15/05.  The issues raised in the appeal have been included in the 3.850 Appeal.


On 07/20/07 Burns filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus with the United States District Court. This petition is still pending.


Burns filed a Successive Motion to Vacate Judgment on 10/19/07 in the Circuit Court that was denied on 01/10/08.


On 02/11/08 Burns filed a 3.850 Appeal with the Florida Supreme Court that was denied on 01/29/09. 




Report Date:   11/30/01          ew

Approved:       12/11/01          ws

Updated:         04/15/09          klh