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.
WILLIAMSON, Dana (W/M)
DC # 048606
Seventeenth Judicial Circuit, Broward County, Case #90-9560CF10B & 92-15642CFA
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Richard D. Eade
Attorneys, Trial: Charles Johnson & Steve Hammer – Special Public Defenders
Attorneys, Direct Appeal: Scott A. Mager, Robert E. Hodapp & Carl Schoeppl – Private
Attorney, Collateral Appeals: Kevin Kulik – Registry
Date of Offense: 11/04/88
Date of Sentence: 07/15/94
Circumstances of Offense:
Dana Williamson was convicted and sentenced to death for the 11/04/88 murder of Donna Becker.
On the evening of 11/04/88, Robert Decker went out for dinner with his father Clyde and his two-year-old son Carl. They arrived home a few minutes before 9:00 p.m. and found Charles Panoyan, a long-time acquaintance and co-worker, waiting for them in their driveway. Panoyan accompanied the family inside to watch Dallas on television. Shortly after 9:00 p.m., Panoyan went to his truck to retrieve some venison that he had brought as a gift for the Deckers. Moments after Panoyan returned, a masked gunman (later identified as Dana Williamson) entered the house and put a gun to Clyde’s head. Williamson ordered Clyde and Robert to lie on the floor and demanded their wallets. Robert told Williamson that he did not have his wallet. It was locked away in the safe. Meanwhile, Robert asked Panoyan if he knew the identity of the gunman, but Panoyan said nothing.
Williamson then restrained all three men with handcuffs and ordered Robert to show him where the safe was located in the master bedroom. After inspecting the safe and deciding that it may be connected to an alarm system, Williamson instructed Robert and his son Carl, who had followed his father into the bedroom, to lie on the floor. He then tied Robert’s feet together to prevent him from escaping. Robert managed to free himself and peered into the living room where Williamson was whispering something to Panoyan. Williamson noticed Robert in the doorway and returned to the bedroom to again restrain him.
Williamson then began rummaging through the house in an apparent search for valuables. Meanwhile, Robert freed himself again. Upon noticing, Williamson hog-tied Robert and demanded to know where he kept the drugs and money. Even though there was an estimated $2,000 in cash in the house, Robert responded that he had none. After the ordeal, police reports indicated that the cash was gone, along with several others items of value.
While Williamson continued to search the house, Donna Becker arrived home. As she walked to the bedroom, Williamson grabbed her and pulled her into the hallway. Williamson stabbed Donna several times. After being stabbed, Donna managed to call 911 from a closet in the house. She alerted police to the robbery and expressed concern for her husband’s and son’s safety.
Williamson continued to search the home and then returned to the bedroom with a piece of paper asking Robert for a copy of his signature. Robert noticed that his wife Donna had already signed the paper. Williamson then shot Robert, his father Clyde and his son Carl all in the head. The men and the boy survived; however, Donna Decker was found dead in the closet when police arrived at the scene.
Months later, Charles Panoyan identified Dana Williamson as the perpetrator of the robbery and murder. According to his testimony, Panoyan knew Williamson through Williamson’s father, Charlie, who was a good friend of Panoyan’s. Panoyan testified that Williamson approached him on several occasions and inquired whether Robert Decker dealt drugs. Panoyan adamantly insisted that Robert Decker was not involved in drugs. Williamson again asked about Robert Decker’s drug involvement the night before the murder.
Panoyan testified that, on the night of the murder, as he went to his truck to retrieve the venison for the Decker’s, he was held at gunpoint by Dana Williamson and his brother, Rodney Williamson. They told him they were going to rob the Decker’s. The Williamson brothers allegedly threatened to kill Panoyan and his family if he said anything to Robert or Clyde Decker when he went back inside the house. Panoyan informed police that he recognized the gun that Dana Williamson was carrying as his own and that Williamson must have stolen it from his truck. Panoyan testified that during the robbery and murder, Williamson told him to go outside, where he was held at gunpoint by Rodney Williamson. Rodney Williamson instructed him to get in his truck and drive a short distance down the road. Panoyan claimed that Rodney Williamson repeatedly threatened his life and the lives of his family members. While the two men were stopped in the truck, Dana Williamson approached the truck without his mask. Williamson ordered Panoyan to leave and not to tell the authorities anything about what had happened that night. He then reiterated his original threats against Panoyan and his family.
Panoyan claimed that, after he was released by the Williamson brothers, he went to a nearby shopping mall and asked a security guard for some money to call his wife. The security guard called a police officer, who escorted Panoyan to the Decker household and then to the police station where he was questioned concerning the crimes. It was during this interrogation that Panoyan acknowledged the crime that was committed at the Decker’s household but that he was unaware of the assailant’s identity. At trial, Panoyan acknowledged that he did not come forward with the Williamsons’ identity right away because of the threats they had made against him, and Dana Williamson’s reputation of having previously killed a child.
Dana Williamson and Charles Panoyan were both indicted for the crimes 08/13/92; however, due to his testimony against Williamson, the charges against Panoyan were dismissed and he was released.
Prior Incarceration History in the State of Florida:
Prison Sentence Length
7Y 0M 0D
BURGUNOCCSTRUC/CV OR ATT.
1Y 0M 0D
NOTE: In 1975, Williamson was convicted of manslaughter for killing a child.
Rodney Williamson was convicted of First-Degree Murder and multiple counts of Armed Burglary, Armed Robbery, Kidnapping and Extortion. Williamson was sentenced to 30 years for extortion and to life imprisonment on all other convictions.
08/13/92 The defendant was indicted on the following charges:
Count I: First-Degree Murder
Count II: Attempted First-Degree Murder
Count III: Attempted First-Degree Murder
Count IV: Attempted First-Degree Murder
Count V: Armed Burglary (Dwelling)
Count VI: Armed Burglary (Conveyance) - charges dropped
Count VII: Armed Burglary (Conveyance) - charges dropped
Count VIII: Armed Robbery
Count IX: Armed Robbery
Count X: Armed Robbery
Count XI: Armed Robbery
Count XII: Armed Kidnapping
Count XIII: Armed Kidnapping
Count XIV: Armed Kidnapping
Count XV: Armed Kidnapping
Count XVI: Armed Kidnapping
Count XVII: Extortion
02/19/94 The jury found the defendant guilty as charged.
06/03/94 Upon advisory sentencing, the jury, by an 11 to 1 majority, voted for the death penalty.
07/15/94 The defendant was sentenced as follows:
Count I: First-Degree Murder - Death
Count II: Attempted First-Degree Murder - Life
Count III: Attempted First-Degree Murder - Life
Count IV: Attempted First-Degree Murder - Life
Count V: Armed Burglary (Dwelling) - Life
Count VIII: Armed Robbery - Life
Count IX: Armed Robbery - Life
Count X: Armed Robbery - Life
Count XI: Armed Robbery - Life
Count XII: Armed Kidnapping - Life
Count XIII: Armed Kidnapping - Life
Count XIV: Armed Kidnapping - Life
Count XV: Armed Kidnapping - Life
Count XVI: Armed Kidnapping - Life
Count XVII: Extortion – 30 years
Florida Supreme Court – Direct Appeal
681 So. 2d 688 (Fla. 1996)
08/15/94 Appeal filed
09/19/96 FSC affirmed convictions and sentences
10/21/96 Mandate issued
U.S. Supreme Court – Petition for Writ of Certiorari
520 U.S. 1200
02/28/97 Petition filed
04/28/97 Petition denied
State Circuit Court – 3.850 Motion
CC #90-9560 & 92-15642
03/24/98 Motion filed
09/05/01 Motion amended
02/07/02 Motion amended
07/30/02 Motion amended
02/13/07 Motion denied
Florida Supreme Court – 3.850 Motion Appeal
994 So.2d 1000
03/23/07 Appeal filed
10/08/08 Disposition affirmed in part, remanded to CC for an Evidentiary Hearing on the issue of ineffectiveness of counsel
10/30/08 Mandate issued
Florida Supreme Court – Petition for Habeas Corpus
994 So.2d 1000
09/21/07 Petition filed
10/08/08 Habeas granted for the conviction and sentence for the Attempted First Degree Murder charge
10/08/08 Habeas denied for the conviction and sentence of death for the First Degree Murder charge
10/30/08 Mandate issued
Factors Contributing to the Delay in Imposition of the Sentence:
Dana Williamson filed a 3.850 Motion that was pending from 03/24/98 – 02/13/07. The delay is due in part to changes in collateral representation and public records requests. Williamson filed a 3.850 Motion appeal to the Florida Supreme Court. The FSC affirmed the disposition of the lower court, but remanded for an Evidentiary Hearing on 10/08. The Evidentiary Hearing has been pending for over one year due to assignment of a new judge.
On 08/18/94, Williamson filed a Direct Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court. In that appeal, he argued that the trial court erred by admitting testimony regarding his 1975 conviction for manslaughter. Williamson next argued that the trial court erred in failing to sever his extortion charge from the trial and for allowing erroneously admitted evidence. Williamson also contended that the trial court erred in its consideration and application of aggravating and mitigating circumstances. On 09/19/96, the Florida Supreme Court affirmed Dana Williamson’s convictions and sentence of death.
On 02/28/97, Williamson filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court, which was denied on 04/28/97.
On 03/24/98, Williamson filed a 3.850 Motion in the State Circuit Court and amended the motion on 09/05/01, 02/07/02, and 07/30/02. On 02/13/07, the State Circuit Court denied the motion.
On 03/23/07, Williamson filed a 3.850 Motion Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court. On 10/08/08, the Florida Supreme Court affirmed the disposition of the lower court but remanded for an Evidentiary Hearing on the issue of ineffectiveness of counsel. The mandate was issued on 10/30/08.
Williamson filed a Petition for Habeas Corpus in the Florida Supreme Court on 09/21/07. On 10/08/08, the Florida Supreme Court granted Habeas and vacated the conviction and sentence for the Attempted First-Degree Murder charge. However, the court denied habeas and affirmed the conviction and sentence of death for the First-Degree Murder charge. The mandate was issued 10/30/08.
Original 12/04/02 EW
Approved 12/05/02 WS
Updated 02/24/10 MJH