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.
BEVEL, Thomas (B/M)
Fourth Judicial Circuit, Duval County Case #04-04525
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Lawrence P. Haddock
Attorney, Trial: Refik Eler – Court-appointed
Attorney, Direct Appeal: Jefferson Morrow – Court-appointed
Attorney, Collateral Appeals: Frank J. Tassone, Jr. – CCRC-M
Date of Offense: 02/29/04
Date of Sentence: 10/21/05
Circumstances of Offense:
Thomas Bevel was convicted and sentenced to death for the 2/29/04 murder of Garrick Stringfield and his son Phillip Sims. Bevel was also sentenced to life imprisonment for the attempted first-degree murder of Feletta Smith.
Bevel and Stringfield were roommates and close friends. Stringfield frequently referred to Bevel as “nephew” or “Tom Tom” and Bevel frequently referred to Stringfield as “Unc.”
On the evening of February 28, 2004, Sojourner Parker dropped off her 13-year-old son, Phillip Sims, at the home of his father, Garrick Stringfield. Parker noticed Stringfield’s car was not in the driveway when she arrived at the house, but was not concerned because Bevel answered the door and let her son inside.
Around 9:00 pm, Stringfield arrived at his house with Feletta Smith, a woman both Stringfield and Bevel knew from their childhood. Bevel and Sims were playing video games in the living room. Smith and Stringfield joined them. Stringfield and Smith then went into Stringfield’s bedroom to watch television. Stringfield showed Smith an AK-47 rifle that he kept under his bed. Smith was frightened by the gun, so Stringfield handed the gun to Bevel who removed it from the room.
Bevel then drove Stringfield’s car to a BP gas station where he picked up his girlfriend, Rohnicka Dumas, and returned with her to the house. Stringfield and Bevel then went into the back yard. When they came back inside the house, Stringfield was carrying a small handgun, and Bevel was carrying the AK-47 rifle Stringfield handed to him earlier that evening. Stringfield and Smith went into Stringfield’s bedroom, and Bevel and Dumas went into the bedroom across the hall.
Smith testified that she was in the bedroom with Stringfield when she heard Bevel saying “Unc, open the door!” She testified that Stringfield opened the door and Bevel immediately shot Stringfield in the head. Bevel then shot Smith several times. Smith became quiet and pretended to be dead. Bevel then went into the living room and shot Sims twice: one shot grazed his arm and chest and one shot went directly into his face.
Rohnika Dumas testified that she was in a bedroom near to the bedroom where Stringfield and Smith were located. She testified that she heard gunshots and a female screaming and hollering. Bevel then came into the room with a rifle, got Dumas to leave the room, and they both got into Stringfield’s car. Dumas testified that, as they were driving away, Bevel said that he didn’t mean to kill the boy. Dumas also testified that she initially told the police that she did not know Bevel was a suspect in the murders until she saw his picture on television.
Smith called 911 using Stringfield’s cell phone. She was taken to the hospital where she remained for nearly a month. She testified that her left hip and right femur were broken, and she was shot in the back twice. She also testified that, when she first talked to the police, she told them the shooters were two males wearing masks. She testified that she said that at first because she was scared and did not want to get involved.
Dr. Jessie Giles, who performed the autopsy of Sims, testified that Sims died as a result of massive trauma due to a gunshot wound to the head. Dr. Aurelian Nicolaescu, who performed the autopsy of Stringfield, testified that Stringfield died as a result of a gunshot wound to the head. Both doctors testified that the bodies of Sims and Stringfield exhibited stippling injuries, which are indicative of being shot at close to intermediate range.
Bevel was questioned on March 27, 2004 by detectives from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Department. Bevel was questioned on two occasions over a 24-hour period. Bevel gave the detectives four different versions of the events but eventually confessed to the murders. However, Bevel’s confession contradicted the testimony given by Smith and Dumas. Bevel claimed he and Stringfield had been fighting about money. He claimed, on the night of the murder, their fight escalated until Stringfield was pointing a handgun at Bevel and Bevel had picked up the AK-47 rifle. Stringfield then went into his bedroom. Bevel then heard what he believed was Stringfield loading the handgun. Bevel moved towards the room and shot Stringfield when he reached the door. Bevel told the detectives that the gun went off several times, but he did not mean to shoot Smith.
04/08/04 Indicted as follows:
Count I: First-Degree Murder
Count II: First-Degree Murder
Count III: Attempted First-Degree Murder
08/26/05 Jury returned guilty verdicts on all counts of the indictment
09/07/05 Jury recommended death by a vote of 12-0 for Count I and 8-4 for Count II
10/21/05 Sentenced as follows:
Count I: First-Degree Murder – Death
Count II: First-Degree Murder – Death
Count III: Attempted First-Degree Murder – Life
Florida Supreme Court – Direct Appeal
983 So. 2d 505
12/07/05 Appeal filed
03/20/08 Appeal denied
03/27/08 Motion for rehearing
05/23/08 Rehearing denied
06/09/08 Mandate issued
State Circuit Court – 3.850 Motion
02/05/09 Motion filed
08/17/09 Motion amended
Factors Contributing to the Delay in Imposition of Sentence:
There have been no unreasonable delays in the imposition of Bevel’s sentence at this time.
On 12/07/05, Bevel raised the following issues in a direct appeal: jury selection, admission of irrelevant evidence, weight given to mitigating and aggravating factors, disproportionate nature of death sentence, Bevel’s mental age, and the constitutionality of the death penalty. The appeal was denied by the Florida Supreme Court on 3/20/08 and a mandate was issued on 06/09/08.
On 02/05/09, Bevel filed a 3.850 Motion in the state circuit court and amended the motion on 08/17/09. This motion is pending.
Report Date: 03/26/08 klh
Approved: 04/02/08 klh
Updated: 09/04/09 kkr