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.


BELCHER, James (B/M)

DC #    286173  

DOB:   07/01/59   


Fourth Judicial Circuit, Duval County, Case #99-1156

Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Peter L. Dearing 

Attorneys, Criminal Trial:  A. Chipperfield & L. Buzzell – Assistant Public Defenders   

Attorney, Direct Appeal: W.C. McClain – Assistant Public Defender 

Attorney, Collateral Appeals: Christopher Anderson – Registry


Date of Offense:           01/08/96

Date of Sentence:         05/17/01


Circumstances of Offense:


James Belcher was convicted and sentenced to death for the 01/08/96 murder of Jennifer Embry.


On the evening of 01/08/96, James Belcher entered the townhouse of Jennifer Embry.  There were no signs of forced entry.  There, Belcher sexually battered and killed Embry.  He strangled her by placing his hands around her neck and holding her head underneath the water in the bathtub.


At the time of the murder, Belcher lived near Florida Technical College, where Embry took classes.  A friend of Embry’s and an employee of the college testified that they had seen Belcher and Embry talking on different occasions.  After obtaining a warrant for a sample of Belcher’s blood, DNA tests revealed that the semen found inside Embry and on a slipper in her bathroom matched Belcher’s DNA profile.


Prior Incarceration/Community Supervision History in the State of Florida:



Offense Date


Sentence Date


Case No.

Prison Sentence Length


GRAND THEFT,$300 LESS & 20,000




1Y 3M 0D






7Y 0M 0D






5Y 0M 0D






3Y 0M 0D







Offense Date


Sentence Date


Case No.

Community Supervision Length


GRAND THEFT,$300 LESS & 20,000




1Y 0M 0D



Trial Summary:


02/25/99          The defendant was indicted on the following:

                                    Count I:            First-Degree Murder

                                    Count II:           Sexual Battery

03/30/01          The defendant was found guilty of both counts charged in the indictment.

04/11/01          Upon advisory sentencing, the jury, by a 9 to 3 majority, voted for the

imposition of the death penalty.

05/17/01          The defendant was sentenced as follows:

                                    Count I:            First-Degree Murder - Death

                                    Count II:           Sexual Battery – 25 years


Appeal Summary:


Florida Supreme Court – Direct Appeal

FSC #SC01-1414

851 So. 2d 678


06/25/01          Appeal filed.

07/10/03          FSC affirmed the convictions and sentence of death.

08/07/03          Mandate issued.


U.S. Supreme Court – Petition for Writ of Certiorari

USSC #03-6522

540 U.S. 1054


09/17/03          Petition filed.

12/01/03          Petition denied.


Circuit Court – 3.851 Motion

CC# 99-1156


11/12/04          Motion filed.

08/25/05          CC denied motion.


Florida Supreme Court – 3.851 Motion Appeal

FSC# 05-1732

961 So.2d 239


09/23/05          Appeal filed.

06/14/07          FSC affirmed denial of the motion.

07/06/07          Mandate.


Florida Supreme Court – Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus

FSC# 06-866

961 So.2d 239


05/15/06          Petition filed.

06/14/07          FSC denied petition.

07/06/07          Mandate. 


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

USDC #07-00665


07/20/07          Petition filed.

09/28/10          Petition denied with prejudice.


United States Supreme Court – Petition for Writ of Certiorari

USSC# 07-6442

128 U.S. 621


09/07/07          Petition filed.

11/13/07          Petition denied.


United States Court of Appeals – Habeas Petition Appeal

USCA# 10-14870


10/19/10 Appeal filed.

12/01/10 Certificate of Appealability granted.


Case Information:


On 06/25/01, Belcher filed a Direct Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court.  In that appeal, he argued that the trial court erred in denying his motion for mistrial based on an objection made regarding the prosecutor’s closing arguments.  The Florida Supreme Court agreed that the prosecutor’s comments were objectionable, but found the error to be harmless.  Belcher also argued that the trial court erred in the application of the heinous, atrocious and cruel (HAC) aggravating factor and in refusing to read his requested jury instruction.  Belcher also raised issues concerning the constitutionality and proportionality of his death sentence.  The Florida Supreme Court affirmed his conviction and sentence of death on 07/10/03.


Belcher filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court on 09/17/03, which was denied on 12/01/03.


Belcher filed a 3.851 Motion in the Circuit Court on 11/12/04 that was denied on 08/25/05. 


Belcher filed a 3.851 Motion Appeal with the Florida Supreme Court on 09/23/05, and on 06/14/07, the FSC affirmed the denial of the motion. 


Belcher filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus with the Florida Supreme Court on 05/03/06 that was denied on 06/14/07. 


The Florida Supreme Court issued a mandate for both the Writ of Habeas Corpus and 3.851 Appeal on 07/06/07.


On 07/20/07, Belcher filed a Petition for Habeas Corpus in the United States District Court, Middle District.  This motion was denied with prejudice on 09/28/10.


Belcher filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court on 09/07/07 that was denied on 11/13/07.


Belcher filed a Habeas Petition Appeal with the United States Court of Appeals (USCA). On 12/01/10, the USCA granted Belcher’s Certificate of Appealability.


Institutional Adjustment:



DATE              DAYS              VIOLATION                           LOCATION       

--------            ----                ----------------------------                  ------------------- 

10/13/98          0              POSS OF UNAUTH CLOTH      APALACHEE UNIT 

07/11/02          30            POSS OF CONTRABAND                   FSP




Report Date:     09/03/03          ew

Approved:        09/09/03          ws

Updated:          12/14/10          jjk