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.
Nineteenth Judicial Circuit, Indian River County, Case# 90-658
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Joe Wild
Trial Attorney: Clifford H. Barnes – Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, Direct Appeal: Margaret Good – Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, Collateral Appeals: Rachel L. Day – CCRC-S
Date of Offense: 07/03/90
Date of Sentence: 05/01/91
Circumstances of the Offense:
The victim, Donna Burnell, worked as a clerk at the Nu Pak convenience store in Indian River County. On the morning of 07/03/90, a man entered the store and shot her three times with a .32 caliber handgun. Ms. Burnell was shot in the face, head, and chest, which she died from on the way to the hospital. The man left the scene without taking any money from the store.
The police were able to link Rodney Lowe to the incident due to the facts that his fingerprints were found at the scene and his vehicle was seen leaving the parking lot of the convenience store. They brought him in for questioning the following week. After having a brief conversation with his girlfriend, Lowe gave a statement that implicated him in the murder. He was arrested after giving this statement.
07/25/90 Indicted as follows:
Count I: First-Degree Murder
Count II: Attempted Robbery with a Firearm
07/25/90 Lowe entered a written plea of not guilty
04/21/91 Jury returned guilty verdicts on all counts of the indictment
04/22/91 Jury recommended death by a vote of 9-3
05/01/91 Sentenced as follows:
Count I: First-Degree Murder – Death
Count II: Attempted Robbery with a Firearm – 15 years, to run consecutive to the sentence of Count I
650 So. 969
05/22/91 Appeal filed
11/23/94 FSC affirmed the conviction and sentence
03/09/95 Rehearing denied
04/11/95 Mandate issued
516 U.S. 887
07/20/95 Petition filed
03/19/97 Motion filed
04/27/01 Second amended
06/23/03 Third amended
08/11/04 Order denying second amended
08/25/04 Successive motion filed
03/17/05 Order granting new penalty phase
Florida Supreme Court – 3.850 Appeal
2 So.3d 21
04/15/05 Appeal filed
11/06/08 Conviction affirmed, New penalty phase granted
11/21/08 Motion for Rehearing filed
01/27/09 Rehearing denied
02/12/09 Mandate issued
Florida Supreme Court – Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus
2 So.3d 21
12/30/05 Petition filed
11/06/08 Petition denied
The direct appeal was pending just over two years before the Florida Supreme Court rendered a decision. The 3.850 motion has been pending for seven years in the Circuit Court.
Lowe filed his direct appeal to the Florida Supreme Court on 05/22/91. He raised ten issues in regards to the guilt phase of his trial and seven issues regarding the penalty phase. The main issue that Lowe raised was whether the trial court erred in admitting his confession. He contended that the police used his girlfriend to coerce him to confess after he had invoked his right to counsel. The Court found no merit in this claim and affirmed Lowe’s convictions and death sentence on 11/23/94.
Lowe filed a Petition of Writ of Certiorari to the United States Supreme Court on 07/20/95, which was denied on 10/02/95.
Lowe filed a 3.850 Motion to the Circuit Court on 03/19/97. The motion was amended three times on the following dates: 09/20/00, 04/27/01, and 06/23/03. On 08/11/04, an order was rendered, denying the second amended motion.
On 08/25/04, Lowe filed a successive 3.850 Motion to the Circuit Court. Based on new evidence, which indicated that Lowe had an accomplice (Dwayne Blackmon) to the murder and robbery, Judge Hawley issued an order granting a new penalty phase (consolidated order disposing the first, second, and second amended successive motions) on 03/17/05. The evidence came in the form of affidavits and testimony from people who implicate Blackmon, who died from a heart problem in August 2003, in Burnell’s murder.
On 04/15/05, Lowe filed a 3.850 Appeal to the Florida Supreme Court. On 11/06/08, the Florida Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s disposition of granting a new penalty phase but affirming the conviction for First-Degree Murder. On 11/21/08, Lowe filed a Motion for Rehearing, which was denied on 01/27/09. The Florida Supreme Court issued a mandate in this case on 02/12/09.
On 12/20/05, Lowe filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus to the Florida Supreme Court. On 11/06/08, the Florida Supreme Court denied the Habeas Petition.
UNION C. I.
UNION C. I.
Report Date 11/19/01 NMP
Approved 12/01/01 WS
Updated 04/08/09 AEH