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.
GARCIA, Henry (W/M)
Eleventh Judicial Circuit, Dade County Case # 85-23640-B
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Arthur Rothenberg
Attorney, Trial: Sandra Jaggard – Private
Attorney, Direct Appeal: Michael Zelman – Private
Attorney, Collateral Appeals: William Hennis & Roseanne Eckert – CCRC-S
Date of Offense: 01/16/83
Date of Sentence: 08/19/88
Date of Resentence: 07/10/91
Circumstances of Offense:
Julia Ballentine, 90, and her sister Mabel Avery, 86, shared a house in the Leisure City area of Homestead, Florida. On Monday morning, 01/17/83, neighbors became concerned when the sisters did not answer their phone. After knocking on the door and windows and receiving no answer, the neighbors discovered that the rear screen door was slashed open. One of the neighbors entered the house and found a body in each of the bedrooms. Avery had fourteen stab wounds and nine defensive wounds on her arms and hands. Ballentine had thirty stab wounds and twelve defensive wounds, and was sexually assaulted prior to death. The medical examiner testified that the murder occurred in the early morning hours of Sunday, 01/16/83.
Feliciano Aguayo, a social and work acquaintance of Henry Garcia, testified that on the evening of 01/15/83, he and Garcia played pool prior to Garcia’s date with a young woman. The woman broke off the date, and Aguayo testified that Garcia was upset and asked Aguayo to drive him to Leisure City. After trying to convince Garcia to go home, Aguayo dropped Garcia off at the Leisure City Lounge.
Around 7:00 a.m. on 01/16/83, Aguayo’s mother testified that she saw Garcia running to her house from the direction of the victims’ house, which was half a mile away. Aguayo and his mother both testified that Garcia was covered with fresh blood. Garcia explained that he had been walking in a nearby field when he was attacked by two men and a woman, and that he had stabbed the woman in self-defense. Garcia showed Aguayo the knife, which had drying blood on it and was bent at the tip. Aguayo noted that Garcia had no visible injuries, except for a scratch around his eye. Later that day, Aguayo and his mother drove to the spot where they believed Garcia had been attacked, but could find no signs of a struggle.
One of Garcia’s co-workers, Rufina Perez, testified that she overheard Garcia discussing the murder. According to the conversation, Garcia admitted getting into trouble with some women, but that he did not have to worry about them because the women were “already in hell.” When asked how he committed the crime, Garcia said, “I went through the back door and I ripped out the screen door.”
In the penalty phase of trial, the State presented evidence of Garcia’s prior criminal history, and used this as an aggravating circumstance. Garcia’s prior criminal history included convictions for assault with intent to rob in 1968, bank robbery and use of a dangerous weapon in May of 1972, mutiny at a U.S. penitentiary in January of 1979, and aggravated battery with the use of a deadly weapon on 07/01/83.
10/09/85 Indicted as follows:
Count I First-Degree Murder
Count II First-Degree Murder
Count III Sexual Battery
Count IV Armed Burglary
05/18/88 Jury returned guilty verdicts on all counts of the indictment
06/01/88 Jury recommended a death sentence for each murder by votes of
08/19/88 Sentenced as follows:
Count I First-Degree Murder – Death
Count II First-Degree Murder – Death
Count III Sexual Battery – Life Imprisonment
Count IV Armed Burglary – Life Imprisonment
06/14/90 FSC reversed the convictions, vacated the sentences, and remanded for a new trial
05/23/91 Jury returned guilty verdicts on all counts of the indictment
05/28/91 Jury recommended a death sentence for the Ballentine murder by a vote of
12-0 and life imprisonment for the Avery murder
07/10/91 The judge overrode the jury recommendation of life imprisonment and resentenced Garcia to death for both the Ballentine and Avery murders
Florida Supreme Court – Direct Appeal
564 So. 2d 124
09/06/88 Appeal filed
06/14/90 FSC reversed the convictions, vacated the death sentence, and remanded for a new trial
08/21/90 Rehearing denied
09/20/90 Mandate issued
Florida Supreme Court – Direct Appeal (after resentencing)
644 So. 2d 59
08/14/91 Appeal filed
08/11/94 FSC affirmed convictions and sentences
10/24/94 Rehearing denied
11/29/94 Mandate issued
U.S. Supreme Court – Petition for Writ of Certiorari
514 U.S. 1085
01/23/95 Petition filed
04/24/95 USSC denied Petition
Circuit Court – 3.850 Motion
03/26/97 Motion filed
08/01/97 Motion amended
04/01/04 CC denied Motion
Florida Supreme Court – 3.850 Motion Appeal
949 So. 2d 980
05/18/04 Appeal filed
11/09/06 FSC affirmed denial of the motion
02/15/07 Rehearing denied
03/05/07 Mandate issued
Florida Supreme Court – Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus
949 So. 2d 980
07/27/05 Petition filed
11/09/06 FSC denied the petition
03/05/07 Mandate issued
U.S. District Court, Southern District – Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus
03/29/07 Petition filed
Factors Contributing to the Delay in Imposition of Sentence:
The delay appears to result from Garcia’s resentencing and the Direct Appeal after resentencing that was pending for three years (08/14/91 – 08/11/94) and the 3.850 Motion that was pending from 03/26/97 – 04/01/04.
Garcia filed a Direct Appeal with the Florida Supreme Court on 09/06/88. His appeal centered on the Circuit Court’s exclusion of payroll records that were argued to be exculpatory evidence and the State’s statement to the jury that the police were unable to find exculpatory evidence because none existed. Garcia argued that a State witness, Rufina Perez, who claimed to overhear a confession by Garcia, could not have overheard Garcia because Garcia was no longer working with Perez at the time of the alleged confession. The payroll records, which Garcia alleged could prove the veracity of his statement and impeach the testimony of Perez, were excluded from trial evidence as unreliable and untrustworthy. The FSC concluded that the payroll records were relevant admissible evidence and the statements by the State about the lack of exculpatory evidence were prejudicial to Garcia’s case and denied him his right to a fair trial. On 06/14/90, the FSC reversed Garcia’s convictions, vacated his sentences, and remanded the case for a new trial.
After resentencing, Garcia filed a Direct Appeal with the Florida Supreme Court on 08/14/91, citing the following errors: denial of motions for judgment of acquittal; reading some portions of the trial testimony to the jury and failing to read other portions; allowing the prosecutor to introduce inadmissible and prejudicial hearsay; prosecutorial misconduct during the trial (primarily, during closing arguments); erroneously instructing the jury on the elements of the crimes; admitting and allowing the use of inflammatory photographs; allowing the State to prove the falsehood of Garcia’s alibi; erroneously instructing the jury on circumstantial evidence; excusing a juror based on inconsistent and inconclusive statements about the death penalty; the cumulative effect of guilt phase errors mandates reversal; improper finding of all aggravating circumstances (currently under prison sentence; prior felony conviction; murder committed during a felony; heinous, atrocious or cruel murder); failing to find any mitigating circumstances; and overriding the jury recommendation of life imprisonment for one of the murders. The FSC affirmed the convictions and sentences on 08/11/94.
Garcia filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court on 01/23/95 that was denied on 04/24/95.
Garcia filed a 3.850 Motion with the Circuit Court on 03/26/97 and amended the motion on 08/01/97. The motion was denied by the Circuit Court on 04/01/04.
Garcia filed a 3.850 Motion Appeal with the Florida Supreme Court on 05/18/04, citing the following issues: waiver of penalty phase claims, conflict of interest for postconviction counsel, denial of access to public records, and evidentiary hearing claims. On 11/09/06, the FSC affirmed the denial of the motion.
Garcia filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus with the Florida Supreme Court on 07/27/05, citing allegations of ineffective assistance of counsel. On 11/09/06, the FSC denied the petition.
Garcia filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus with the U.S. District Court, Southern District on 03/29/07 that is pending.
Garcia died from natural causes on 11/26/09.
Report Date: 12/07/01 JFL
Approved: 12/17/01 WS
Updated: 11/30/09 CAR