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. 


HODGES, Willie James (Black/Male)

DC# P36814

DOB:  06/19/60


­­­First Judicial Circuit, Escambia County Case # 03-05683-CF

Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Terry D. Terrell

Attorney, Trial: Jerry T. Allred – Public Defender

Attorney, Direct Appeal: David A. Davis – Assistant Public Defender


Date of Offense:  12/19/2001

Date of Sentence:   02/12/2009



Circumstances of Offense:


On February 12, 2009, Willie James Hodges was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Patricia Belanger.  On December 19, 2001, Hodges entered Belanger’s home, fatally stabbed and bludgeoned her, and then fled through a window.


The body was found by several of Belanger’s relatives.  Stanley Clinton Taylor, testified that when he and his family arrived at Belanger’s home, her front door was closed and locked.  Debra Taylor, Belanger’s daughter, used her key to unlock the door, but after the door was unlocked, it would not open.  After walking around to the back of the house, Stanley returned to the front door and found it completely closed and again locked. Stanley unlocked the door again, but, this time, his stepson said he saw someone moving inside the house and, at about the same moment, he heard glass break.  Stanley was finally able to enter the house through the door and moved the chair that was blocking it.  Once the door was open, Stanley saw Belanger lying face down in the dining room.  Her jacket was wrapped around her head and her pants were pulled down around her legs.

Debra testified that, as she heard the glass breaking, she saw a man run from the house and “hurtle” the fence in Belanger’s yard.  He wore a blue and gray jacket, a black hood that was like a ski mask, and dungaree-style jeans.


Stanley and Joe called 911.  An officer with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office (ECSO), was dispatched to Belanger’s home.  After he was told that a man was seen fleeing from the house, he called for a K-9 unit.  Another officer and his canine partner arrived 15 minutes later. They then started to track the suspect from the east side of the residence where a window was broken. The officer followed the canine partner over fences, and found white socks on them.  Then, the officer followed his dog through a swampy area, a clay pit, a wooded area, and an open field.  On the way, the officer found a shoe and footprints. As they returned to the Belanger’s home, the officer found another shoe and a “Member’s Only” jacket.


Several law enforcement officers testified about the crime scene at the home.  When the officers arrived, Belanger was lying face down in the dining room.  A claw hammer and a brown leather braided belt were found near the body.  A bedroom window on the right side of the house was broken, and a knife and several photographs were on the ground outside the window.  The knife had a black plastic handle, while the knives in Belanger’s kitchen had only wooden handles.  In the room where the window was broken, a drawer was found that was filled with crew-style white socks similar to socks found by the K-9 officer.


The Chief Medical Examiner found two lacerations on Belanger’s head and fractures to her skull under the lacerations.  The examiner opined that the head injuries were consistent with having been inflicted by a hammer and also consistent with the hammer in question.  He also testified about an incise wound that was four and three-quarter inches in length and a stab wound to Belanger’s neck, which had cut into her jugular vein.  He opined that the neck wounds were the correct shape and depth to have been caused by the steak knife in evidence. The examiner concluded that the manner of death was homicide and the cause of death was related to the wounds inflicted by the hammer and the knife.


Various witnesses connected Hodges to the jacket, shoes, belt, knife, and photographs found in and near Belanger’s home.


Several analysts testified about the DNA testing of physical evidence collected from the Belanger crime scene.  The DNA profile developed from the blood on one of the socks found by the K-9 officer was the same as Hodge’s known DNA profile on all thirteen markers, and partial DNA profiles developed from the other sock were also consistent with Hodges’ known DNA profile.  Dr Martin Tracy, professor of biological sciences at Florida International University in Miami, testified that the chances of the DNA (on one of the socks) belonging to someone else was one in 990 quadrillion. 


In addition to evidence about the Belanger homicide, the State introduced evidence of a collateral homicide pursuant to Williams v. State, 110 So. 2d 654 (Fla. 1959). Additionally, two witnesses (one was a cellmate in the Escambia County Jail) testified that Hodges confessed to them that he had committed two murders.


On March 7, 2008, a jury found Hodges guilty of first-degree murder by general verdict.  The trial court then conducted a penalty phase from March 17 to March 20, 2008.


On March 20, 2008, by a vote of ten to two, the jury recommended a death sentence.


Trial Summary:


12/17/03                      Indicted as follows:

                                                   Count I:           First-Degree Murder with Weapon

03/07/08                      Jury returned guilty verdicts on all counts of the indictment

03/20/08                      Jury recommended death by a vote of 10-2

02/12/09          Sentenced as follows:

                                                   Count I:           First-Degree Murder with Weapon – Death



Current Prison Sentence History:

Offense Date


Sentence Date


Case No.

Prison Sentence Length









Appeal Summary:


Florida Supreme Court – Direct Appeal

FSC# 09-468

2010 So.3d WL 4878858 (Fla. 2010)


03/16/09          Appeal filed

12/02/10          Appeal denied

12/06/10          Motion for Rehearing

02/23/11          Rehearing denied

03/11/11          Mandate



Case Information:


On 03/16/09, Hodges filed a Direct Appeal to the Florida Supreme Court.  The following issues were raised: failing to allow the jury to determine if Hodges was mentally retarded, finding that Hodges was not mentally retarded, ruling that the state could discuss the collateral crime evidence during its rebuttal argument, allowing the collateral crime evidence to become a feature of the trial, refusing to allow Hodges to waive a penalty-phase jury, and denying Hodges’ motion to bar a death sentence based on Ring v. Arizona, 536 U.S. 584 (2002).  On 12/06/10, the Florida Supreme Court affirmed the convictions and sentence of the lower court.  A motion for rehearing was submitted on 12/06/10.  This motion was denied on 02/23/11.  The Florida Supreme Court issued a mandate on 03/11/11.





Report Date:   02/16/11           CAR

Approved:       02/21/11          CAR

Updated:         03/14/11          CAR