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.


BRANCH, Eric Scott (W/M)

DC #    313067  

DOB:   02/07/71


First Judicial Circuit, Escambia County, Case #93-870 CF

Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Edward Nickinson

Trial Attorney: John L. Allbritton – Private

Attorney, Direct Appeal: David Davis – Assistant Public Defender

Attorney, Collateral Appeals: Michael Reiter – Registry


Date of Offense:           01/11/93

Date of Sentence:         05/03/94         


Circumstances of Offense:


Eric Scott Branch was convicted and sentenced to death for the sexual battery and murder of Susan Morris on 01/11/93.


In order to evade Indiana police authorities, Branch planned to abandon his vehicle and steal a car from the University of West Florida.  On 01/11/93, Branch attacked Morris in the university parking lot, and stole her red Toyota.  Morris’ beaten body was discovered not far away, in a wooded area.  Morris was found nude, with many injuries characteristic of a severe beating and a wooden stick was found broken off in her vagina.


The defendant was arrested in Indiana a few days after the murder.


Additional Information:


On 11/18/94, Branch was sentenced to 30 years for an additional sexual battery charge in Florida.  This incident, however, occurred prior to the murder for which Branch was sentenced to death.


Branch was also convicted of sexual battery in the state of Indiana.


Trial Summary:


02/23/93          Defendant indicted on:

                                    Count I:            First-Degree Murder

                                    Count II:           Sexual Battery

                                    Count III:         Grand Theft Auto

03/10/94          The jury found the defendant guilty on all counts.

03/11/94          Upon advisory sentencing, the jury, by a 10 to 2 majority, voted for the

death penalty.

05/03/94          The defendant was sentenced as followed:

                                    Count I:            First-Degree Murder - Death

                                    Count II:           Sexual Battery – Life in Prison

                                    Count III:         Grand Theft Auto – Five years


Appeal Summary:


Florida Supreme Court – Direct Appeal

FSC #83,805

685 So. 2d 1250


06/06/94          Appeal filed.

11/21/96          FSC affirmed the convictions and sentence of death.

01/08/97          Rehearing denied.

02/07/97          Mandate issued.


United States Supreme Court – Petition for Writ of Certiorari

USSC #96-8353

520 U.S. 1218


03/24/97          Petition filed.

05/12/97          Petition denied.


State Circuit Court – 3.850 Motion

CC #93-870


05/07/98          Motion filed.

04/01/03          Motion amended.

10/10/03          Motion amended.

12/30/04          CC denied Motion.


Florida Supreme Court – 3.850 Motion Appeal

FSC# 05-433

952 So. 2d 470


03/09/05          Appeal filed.

08/31/06          FSC affirmed denial of motion.

03/28/07          Mandate issued.


Florida Supreme Court – Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus

FSC# 05-1558

952 So. 2d 470


08/31/05          Petition filed.

08/31/06          FSC denied petition.

03/28/07          Mandate issued.


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

USDC # 06-cv-00486


03/28/07          Petition filed.

03/30/10          Petition denied


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


Branch’s Direct Appeal took approximately three years to dispose of in the Florida Supreme Court.  Branch’s 3.850 Motion was pending from 05/07/98 – 12/30/04. 


Case Information:


Branch filed his Direct Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court on 06/06/94.  In that appeal, he contended that the trial court erred in failing to grant him a continuance, and in failing to adequately examine his claim of incompetent counsel.  Branch also argued the court’s failure to give special jury instructions and the presentation of victim impact evidence.  The Florida Supreme Court affirmed the convictions and sentence of death on 11/21/96 and the mandate was issued on 02/07/97.


Branch filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court on 03/24/97 that was denied on 05/12/97.


Branch next filed a 3.850 Motion in the State Circuit Court on 05/07/98 and amended the motion on 04/01/03 and 10/10/03.  On 12/30/04, the Circuit Court denied the motion.


Branch filed a 3.850 Motion Appeal with the Florida Supreme Court on 03/09/05, raising the following issues: ineffective assistance of counsel at the guilt and penalty phases and using an Indiana conviction to establish the prior violent felony aggravator.  On 08/31/06, the FSC affirmed the denial of the motion. 


Branch filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus with the Florida Supreme Court on 08/31/05, raising the issue of ineffective assistance of counsel.  On 08/31/06, the FSC denied the petition. 


On 03/28/07, Branch filed a Petition for Habeas Corpus in the USDC, Northern District, which was denied on 03/30/10.


Institutional Adjustment:



DATE              DAYS              VIOLATION                                       LOCATION     

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

05/07/96          0                      SPOKEN THREATS                          UNION C. I.       

04/26/01          60                    DISOBEYING ORDER                      UNION C. I.       

05/02/01          60                    DISOBEYING ORDER                      UNION C. I.        

03/10/05          0                      DISOBEYING ORDER                      UNION C. I.




11/20/01 – ew

12/06/01 – approved – ws

04/09/10 – updated – kkr