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.


JAMES, Edward (W/M)

DC #   969121

DOB: 08/04/61


Eighteenth Judicial Circuit, Seminole County Case # 93-3237

Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Alan A. Dickey

Trial Attorneys: Gary Anderson and James Figgatt – Assistant Public Defenders

Attorneys, Direct Appeal: Michael S. Becker – Assistant Public Defender

Attorney, Collateral Appeals: Carol Rodriguez & Peter Cannon – CCRC-M


Date of Offense:         09/19/93

Date of Sentence:       08/18/95



Circumstances of the Offense:


Edward James attended a party on the evening of September 19, 1993, at Todd Van Fossen’s house.  James lived approximately two blocks away in a room he rented from victim, Betty Dick.  James was at the Van Fossen residence from approximately 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.  Van Fossen’s girlfriend, Tina, reported that James appeared to be intoxicated, but James declined to sleep at her residence when she offered.  James consumed between six and 24 beers, in addition to three “shotguns” (three beers funneled one after another).  James ran into Jere Pearson shortly after leaving the party.  Pearson’s residence was near the party, and he was returning from a convenience store.  Pearson testified that when he ran into James, James was en route to the residence of the victim’s son, Tim Dick.  Pearson and James conversed for about ten minutes, and Pearson witnessed James take ten hits of acid, but said that James appeared to be sober. 


James briefly visited with Tom Dick and his girlfriend, Nichole, but returned to his room at Betty Dick’s house after drinking some gin.  James noticed, upon entering the house that Betty Dick’s four grandchildren were sleeping in the living room.  Wendi, one of the grandchildren, briefly awoke when James entered the house.  Wendi said that James appeared drunk and was laughing.  James made himself something to eat in the kitchen and then went to his room.  Later, he went back to the living room and grabbed eight-year-old Toni Neuner around the neck.  James strangled Toni and claimed he heard the bones pop in her neck.  James assumed that Toni was dead, and he proceeded to have both vaginal and anal intercourse with her after removing her clothing in his bedroom.  Toni did not resist or scream, and James threw Toni behind his bed after the rape. 


James entered Betty Dick’s room with the intention of having sexual intercourse with her.  James then hit the back of Betty’s head with a candlestick and Betty woke up screaming.  Betty’s screams woke Wendi Neuner who came to the doorway of her grandmother’s bedroom where she witnessed James using a small knife to stab Betty.  James saw Wendi and he grabbed her and tied her up before putting her in the bathroom.  James did not think that Betty was dead, so he went to the kitchen to get a butcher knife and returned with the knife to stab Betty in the back.  James took off the bottoms of Betty’s pajamas, but did not sexually batter her.


James took a shower, with Wendi still in the bathroom, to remove the blood that covered him.  James then gathered some belongings and clothes from his room and took Betty’s purse and jewelry bag from her room.  James got in Betty’s car and drove across the country, stopping occasionally to sell some of Betty’s jewelry.  James was arrested in Bakersfield, California, on October 6, 1993, and he then gave two confessions that were videotaped. 


The autopsy that was performed on Toni revealed that she died as a result of strangulation, but was still alive at the time of the rape.  The expert could not determine whether or not Toni was conscious while she was being raped. Betty was stabbed 21 times and died as a result of massive blood loss within a few minutes of the attack.


Experts opined that James suffers from drug and alcohol dependency and a psychiatrist determined that James has an addictive personality or a passive aggressive personality.  James could not remember if he had taken LSD prior to committing the offenses, but an expert testified that the ingestion of LSD could unmask an underlying psychological problem.  



Additional Information:


James was also tried and convicted of the following crimes (Case # 93-3499):


     Date                                      Offense                                   Sentence Date  Sentence


Armed Burglary


3 Years


Grand Theft Firearm


3 Years


Grand Theft Firearm


3 Years


Grand Theft Firearm


3 Years


Sexual Battery By Adult on Victim Under 12




Sexual Battery By Adult on Victim Under 12












Trial Summary:


10/19/93          Defendant indicted with the following:

Count I:           First-Degree Murder

            Count II:         First-Degree Murder

                        Count III:        Aggravated Child Abuse

Count IV:        Attempted Sexual Battery/Threatened with a Deadly Weapon

Count V:         Kidnapping During the Commission of a Felony

Count VI:        Grand Theft

Count VII:      Grand Theft Auto

04/05/95          Defendant pled guilty to all counts

06/05/95          The jury recommended Death by a vote of 11 to 1 for Counts I and II

08/18/95          Defendant was sentenced as follows:

Count I:           First-Degree Murder – Death

Count II:         First-Degree Murder – Death

                        Count III:        Aggravated Child Abuse – 15 years

Count IV:        Attempted Sexual Battery/Threatened with a Deadly Weapon – 15 years

Count V:         Kidnapping During the Commission of a Felony – Life sentence

Count VI:        Grand Theft – 5 years

Count VII:      Grand Theft Auto – 5 years



Appeal Summary:


Florida State Supreme Court – Direct Appeal

FSC #86,834

695 So. 2d 1229


11/09/95          Appeal filed.

04/24/97          FSC affirmed the convictions and the sentences of Death.

06/20/97          Rehearing denied.

07/21/97          Mandate issued.


United States Supreme Court – Petition for Writ of Certiorari

USSC #97-6104

522 U.S. 1000


09/18/97          Petition filed.

12/01/97          USSC denied petition.




State Circuit Court – 3.850 Motion

CC #93-3237


05/27/98          Motion filed.

03/08/02          Motion amended.

04/11/03          Notice of Voluntary Dismissal filed

04/21/03          Circuit Court dismissed counsel and Motion

01/17/06          Circuit Court denied motion to resume postconviction proceedings


Florida Supreme Court – Motion Appeal

FSC# 06-426


01/30/06          Appeal filed.

01/24/08          Appeal denied.

02/11/08          Motion for rehearing

10/21/08          Rehearing denied



Factors Contributing to the Delay in Imposition of Sentence:


The 3.850 Motion was pending from 1998 until 2003. 



Case Information:


A Direct Appeal was filed on 11/09/95. Issues that were raised included whether the trial court erred in failing to grant James’ motion for mistrial based on the prosecutor’s improper comments during closing argument and whether the trial court erred in finding the heinous, atrocious, or cruel aggravator as to the murder of Toni Neuner.  The Florida Supreme Court found all of these claims either without merit or harmless and affirmed the conviction and sentence of death on 04/24/97.


A Petition for Writ of Certiorari was filed with the United States Supreme Court on 09/18/97 and denied on 12/01/97. 


A 3.850 Motion was filed with the circuit court on 05/27/98 and amended on 03/08/02.  On 04/11/03, James filed a Notice of Voluntary Dismissal and a Faretta hearing was held.  On 04/21/03, the Circuit Court dismissed postconviction counsel and the 3.850 Motion.  On 01/17/06, the Circuit Court denied a motion to resume postconviction proceedings. 


An appeal of the Circuit Court’s 01/17/06 decision was filed with the Florida Supreme Court on 01/30/06. This appeal was denied on 01/24/08.



Institutional Adjustment:





DATE     DAYS                    VIOLATION                                        LOCATION      

12/11/95     10                      DISRESP.TO OFFICIALS                 FLORIDA STATE PRISON

12/01/97     20                      POSS OF CONTRABAND                 UNION C. I.        



Report Date:   03/12/02          cc

Approved:       04/15/02          ws

Updated:         03/10/09          klh