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. 


LOONEY, Jason Bryce (W/M)

DC#    N00676

DOB:  04/05/77          


Second Judicial Circuit, Wakulla County Case# 97-215-CF

Sentencing Judge, Trial:  The Honorable N. Sanders Sauls

Attorney, Trial:  Greg Cummings – Special Assistant Public Defender

Attorney, Direct Appeal:  Barbara Sanders – Private

Attorney, Collateral Appeals: Baya Harrison – Private


Date of Offense:  07/27/97      

Date of Sentence:  02/18/00


Circumstances of the Offense:


The bodies of Melanie King and Robin Keith Spears were found in their burning home in the early morning hours of 07/27/97.


On 07/26/97, Jason Looney, Guerry Hertz, and Jimmy Dempsey left an acquaintance’s house on foot, which was within walking distance of the victims’ home, at approximately 11 p.m.  A woman who lived approximately 500 yards from the victims’ home said that, at approximately 2 a.m., Hertz came to her home requesting to use her telephone because “his truck had broken down.”  She refused and the three men proceeded to walk up the road towards the home of Melanie King and Robin Keith Spears.  When Looney saw their black Ford Mustang, he exclaimed, “There’s my car right there. That’s the one I want.”


Acting as a decoy, Dempsey and Hertz knocked on the victims’ front door and asked if they could use a telephone.  King gave them a cordless telephone and Dempsey pretended to make a call.  When Dempsey started to hand the phone back to King, Hertz forced his way into the home at gunpoint.  Looney entered after him and targeted Spears with his rifle.  King and Spears were forced face down on their bed after being bound and gagged with duct tape.  The three defendants stole various items including a television, a VCR, furniture, jewelry, CDs, and $1500 cash.  They loaded the stolen goods into the victims’ two vehicles. 


Hertz and Looney decided that they could not leave witnesses and then informed Dempsey of their plan.  Dempsey testified that Hertz and Looney poured accelerants throughout the house, after which all three men went back to the bedroom armed.  King told the defendants that she would “rather die being burnt up than shot.”  She then stated, “Please, God, don’t shoot me in the head.”  Hertz replied, “Sorry, can’t do that,” before he started firing his firearm.  Looney started firing and was followed by Dempsey.  Both King and Spears died as a result of the gunshot wounds.


After the shootings, the house was set afire.  Looney drove away in the victims’ Ford Mustang with Dempsey as a passenger, while Hertz drove the victims’ white Ford Ranger.  Dempsey reported that the entire episode spanned two hours.  They drove to Hertz’ house so that they could divide the money and unload the stolen cargo.  Testimony was given by two Tallahassee Wal-Mart employees stating that the three men showed off their new vehicles, a black Ford Mustang and a white Ford Ranger, after making a purchase at approximately 5 a.m.  The employees’ testimony was corroborated by a Wal-Mart receipt for clothes that was found in the victims’ Ford Mustang. 


Looney, Hertz, and Dempsey then drove to Daytona Beach, Florida, where they were involved in a police shootout after a police pursuit.  Looney and Dempsey abandoned the victims’ Ford Mustang and were arrested as they were fleeing the scene.  Hertz was shot, abandoned the victims’ Ford Ranger and paid $100 for a cab-ride to his aunt’s St. Augustine home.  Hertz was arrested that day and police discovered Spears’ .9mm gun in Hertz’s bag. 


An FDLE firearms expert testified that one of the bullets fired in the victims’ home was fired from a .380 Lorcin gun that was in Looney’s possession when he was arrested.  The Lorcin gun had belonged to Spears and Dempsey reported that Hertz had used it to shoot the victims.  The police also found Dempsey’s wallet containing $380, Looney’s wallet containing $464, and a roll of duct tape in the victims’ Ford Mustang.  Latent fingerprints that matched all three men were taken from the victims’ Ford Mustang.  Evidence of various accelerants were found on clothing in the victim’s Ford Mustang and an expert later testified that the extensive fire damage to the victims’ home could only have been accomplished with the use of accelerants. 


The bodies of Melanie King and Robin Keith Spears were both severely burned, but the medical examiner testified that both deaths were caused by gunshot wounds due to a lack of soot in the victims’ trachea, indicating that they were already dead when the fire started.  Further testimony indicated that both victims lived one to two minutes after being shot.


Codefendant Information:


Guerry Wayne Hertz (DC# 567668)


Hertz received identical convictions and sentences as Looney, which included two death sentences (CC# 97-214). 

Jimmy Dewayne Dempsey (DC# 971421)


Dempsey received the same convictions as Looney and Hertz.  Because he entered into a plea agreement with the State, Dempsey was sentenced to life for the murders instead of death (CC# 97-213).


Prior Incarceration History:


Prior Community Supervision History: (Note: Data reflected covers periods of community supervision with the Florida Dept. of Corrections since January of 1983)

Offense Date


Sentence Date


Case No.

Community Supervision Length








3Y 0M 0D








3Y 0M 0D




GRAND THEFT,300 L/5,000




3Y 0M 0D




Trial Summary:


08/26/97          Indicted as follows:

                                    Count I:           First-Degree Murder

                                    Count II:         First-Degree Murder

                                    Count III:        Armed Burglary of a Dwelling

                                    Count IV:        Robbery with a Firearm

                                    Count V:         Arson of a Dwelling

Count VI:        Threatens to Use Any Firearm

12/09/99          The defendant was found guilty on all counts of the indictment

12/11/99          Jury recommended death by a vote of 10-2

02/18/00          Sentenced as follows:

                                    Count I:           First-Degree Murder – Death

                                    Count II:         First-Degree Murder – Death

                                    Count III:        Armed Burglary of a Dwelling – Life

                                    Count IV:        Robbery with a Firearm – Life

                                    Count V:         Arson of a Dwelling – 30 Years

                                    Count VI:        Threatens to Use Any Firearm – 15 Years

Appeal Summary:


Florida Supreme Court – Direct Appeal

FSC# 00-458

 803 So. 2d 656


03/03/00          Appeal filed

11/01/01          Convictions and sentences affirmed

12/21/01          Rehearing denied

12/21/01          Mandate issued


United States Supreme Court – Petition for Writ of Certiorari

USSC# 01-9932

122 S. Ct. 2678; 153 L. Ed. 2d 850


03/19/02          Petition filed

06/28/02          Petition denied


State Circuit Court – 3.850 Motion

CC# 97-215-CF


06/30/03          Motion filed

03/09/04          Amended motion filed

12/30/04          Motion denied


Florida Supreme Court – 3.850 Appeal

FSC# 05-159

941 So.2d 1017 (2006)


01/27/05          Appeal filed

06/22/06          The FSC affirmed the Circuit Court’s denial of Looney’s 3.850 Motion.

10/27/06          Motion for rehearing denied

11/13/06          Mandate issued


United States District Court, Northern District – Habeas Petition

USDC# 06-519


11/13/06          Petition filed

10/08/09          Petition denied with prejudice

11/09/09          Application for Certificate of Appealability

11/10/09          Application denied


United States Court of Appeals, 11th District – Habeas Appeal

USCA# 09-15799


11/09/09          Appeal filed

12/03/09          Mandate denying Certificate of Appealability issued


Factors Contributing to the Delay in Imposition of Sentence:


There have been no undue delays in this case.


Case Information:


A Direct Appeal was filed to the Florida Supreme Court on 03/03/00.  Issues that were raised on appeal included whether the details of the collateral crimes in Volusia County became a feature of the trial causing prejudice that substantially outweighed the probative value of the evidence and whether the trial court erred by refusing to grant a mistrial after the State’s witness testified about a hearsay statement by a non-testifying codefendant that incriminated Looney.  The Court found all of the claims either harmless or without merit and affirmed the conviction and sentence on 11/01/01.

Looney filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the United States Supreme Court on 03/20/02, which was denied on 06/28/02.


Looney filed a 3.850 Motion to the Circuit Court on 06/30/03.  It was amended on 03/09/04.  The motion was denied on 12/30/04.


On 01/27/05, Looney filed a 3.850 Appeal to the Florida Supreme Court.  During the appeal, Looney raised the issue of ineffective counsel.  He claimed that the defense counsel (Attorney Cummings) failed to:  (1) present statutory and non-statutory mitigation, (2) use a mental health expert, and (3) present mitigation convincingly.  The Court concluded that Looney failed to meet his burden under Strickland.  All of the additional mitigators that Looney asserts were not presented during the penalty phase were either presented or not presented because defense counsel had no indication that the mitigating factor might apply to Looney’s case.  As a result, the Court finds that effective counsel was provided and none of the testimony presented by Looney during the evidentiary hearing undermines the Court’s confidence in the proceedings.  Therefore, the Court affirmed the Circuit Court’s denial of Looney’s 3.850 Motion on 06/22/06.  On 10/27/06, the motion for rehearing was denied.  On 11/13/06, the mandate was issued.


On 11/13/06, Looney filed a Habeas Petition in the United States District Court, Northern District.  This petition was denied with prejudice on 10/08/09. Looney filed an application for a Certificate of Appealability on 11/09/09, and it was denied on 11/10/09.


Looney filed a Habeas appeal in the United States Court of Appeals, 11th District on 11/09/09. A mandate denying his Certificate of Appealability was issued on 12/03/09.


Institutional Adjustment:









Possession of Contraband

Florida State Prison





Report Date:   03/04/04          CC

Approved:       03/09/04          EW     

Updated:         10/26/10          EMJ