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. 


JOHNSON, Richard Allen (W/M)

DC# K51342

DOB:  11/16/1977


19th Judicial Circuit, St. Lucie County Case #01-000793

Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Burton C. Conner

Attorney, Trial: Robert Stone and Tom Garland − Private

Attorney, Direct Appeal: Carey Haughwout − Public Defender & Gary Lee Caldwell − Assistant Public Defender

Attorney, Collateral Appeals:  Craig Trocino – CCRC-S


Date of Offense: 02/15/01

Date of Sentence: 08/09/04


Circumstances of Offense:


Richard Johnson met Tammy Hagin, the victim, at a nightclub in Port St. Lucie on the evening of February 14, 2001.  The two spent several hours together.  They left the club to go to Johnson’s residence for the remainder of the evening.  On February 15, 2001, Johnson’s roommate, John Vitale, agreed to take Hagin home to Vero Beach; they were accompanied by Johnson.  The three then went to Savannas Preserve State Park, and then returned to Johnson’s residence.


An argument ensued. A witness testified that she heard a woman saying “I want to go home.  Just let me go.”  This exchange took place while Johnson and Vitale prevented Hagin from exiting the car by holding the car doors closed.  Eventually Hagin was allowed to exit the vehicle, but Johnson grabbed Hagin from behind, picked her up, and took her inside the house.


One of Johnson’s roommates testified that he saw Johnson yanking a woman into his room, after which the house became quiet.  According to Vitale, Johnson eventually emerged from his room, and told Vitale that Hagin was “gone”.  When pressed, Johnson said he had broken Hagin’s neck.   


After wrapping Hagin’s body in a deflated air mattress, Johnson and Vitale placed the body in the trunk of Vitale’s car.  The two used money from Hagin’s purse to buy a large cooler, concrete blocks, a chain, and a padlock.  They sank the body in several feet of water at the Savannas Preserve State Park. Hagin’s body was found three days later by a fisherman.


Hagin died of strangulation.  Her killer used both a ligature and bare hands.  Both Vitale and Johnson were arrested within days. 


Codefendant Information:


John Vitale pled guilty to accessory to murder, and received a 22-year sentence.


Additional Information:


During the course of testimony, Vitale admitted to writing Johnson’s family and confessing to the murder.  While testifying, Vitale also admitted that he was in love with Johnson.


Prior Incarceration History in the State of Florida:



Offense Date


Sentence Date


Case No.

Community Supervision Length








1Y 0M 0D
1Y 0M 0D








1Y 0M 0D






Trial Summary:


03/07/01          Indicted as follows:

                                    Count I:           First-Degree Murder

                                    Count II:         Kidnapping

                                    Count III:        Sexual Battery

                                    Count IV:        Petit Theft

06/17/04          Jury returned guilty verdicts on all counts of the indictment.

06/21/04          Jury recommended death by a vote of 11-1.

08/09/04          Sentenced as follows:

                                    Count I:           First-Degree Murder - Death Sentence

                                    Count II:         Kidnapping - 30 years

                                    Count III:        Sexual Battery - Life

                                    Count IV:        Petit Theft – 60 days




Appeal Summary:


Florida Supreme Court – Direct Appeal

FSC# 04-1972

969 So. 2d 938


10/06/04          Appeal filed.

07/05/07          Appeal denied.

07/19/07          Motion for rehearing.

11/27/07          Rehearing denied.

12/13/07          Mandate issued.


United States Supreme Court – Petition for Writ of Certiorari

USSC# 07-9402

128 S. Ct. 2056


02/15/08          Petition filed.

04/21/08          Petition denied.


State Circuit Court – 3.851 Motion

CC# 01-000793


04/21/09          Motion filed.



Factors Contributing to the Delay in Imposition of Sentence:


The appeals process is currently within acceptable timeframes.



Case Information:


During the penalty phase, the State Circuit Court instructed the jury to consider the following three aggravating factors: Johnson was under felony community control when the murder was committed; the murder was committed during the commission of sexual battery, kidnapping, or both; and the killing was especially heinous.  At sentencing, the court rejected two mental statutory mitigating circumstances, as well as the age mitigator.  However, the court did accept the statutory mitigator of no significant criminal history, in addition to seven nonstatutory mitigators. 


Upon direct appeal, Johnson claimed the following eight errors:  grant of challenge for cause to a potential juror over defense objection; admission of victim’s statement as she was being strangled; prosecution by the State on a robbery count charged by information rather than indictment; improper cross-examination of the defendant; sufficiency of the evidence of kidnapping, sexual battery, and felony murder; proportionality of death sentence; imposition of a death sentence after the defendant rejected a plea bargain for a life sentence; and application of the HAC aggravator  A direct appeal was filed in the Florida Supreme Court on 10/06/04. The appeal was denied on 07/05/07. A mandate was issued by the Florida Supreme Court on 12/13/07.


On 02/15/08, Johnson filed a petition for Writ of Certiorari with the United States Supreme Court. The petition was denied on 04/21/08.


On 04/21/09, Johnson filed a 3.851 Motion in the state circuit court. This petition is pending.




Report Date:   12/18/07          KLH

Approved:       12/20/07          KLH

Updated:         05/02/11          CAR