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.
SLAWSON, Newton Carlton (W/M)
Thirteenth Judicial Circuit, Hillsborough County Case #89-5619
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Robert H. Bonanno
Trial Attorneys: Craig Alldredge and Brian Donerly – Assistant Public Defenders
Attorney, Direct Appeal: Simson Unterberger – Private
Attorney, Collateral Appeals: Chris DeBock and Mark S. Gruber – CCRC-Middle
Attorney, Collateral Appeals: Pro Se (as of 11/07/01)
Date of Offense: 04/11/89
Date of Sentence: 04/11/90
Circumstances of the Offense:
The following information is based on the confession given by Mr. Slawson on the night of his arrest. On 04/11/89, Slawson went to the Wood family home. The victims lived in a garage apartment in the proximity of Mrs. Wood’s parents. Slawson took with him a .357 revolver and a knife with a six-inch blade. Upon the request of Gerald Wood, victim, Slawson placed the gun in the bathroom to prevent the children from finding it. Slawson gave the knife to Mr. Wood so that he could divide a rock of cocaine. Mr. Wood offered to sell some of the crack cocaine to Slawson and upon Slawson’s refusal, Peggy Wood, Mr. Wood’s wife, expressed concern that Slawson might be a police officer. Due to this statement, Slawson decided to leave the residence and went to the bathroom to retrieve his gun. Slawson stated that he believed that Mr. Wood had been placing drugs in his beer, which had caused him to feel as if he were locked in the apartment. Upon his return from the bathroom, Mr. Wood stood up with the knife in hand. It was at this time that Slawson shot Mr. Wood and stated that he may have shot Mrs. Wood, who was pregnant. Slawson then proceeded to the children’s room and shot both of them. He then returned to the living room and shot Mrs. Wood again. He then took the knife and placed it into the base of Mrs. Wood’s pelvic area and cut upward to her sternum. Slawson claimed that his rationale for disemboweling Mrs. Wood was an attempt to save the unborn child because he had deemed both Mr. and Mrs. Wood dead. Mrs. Wood was found at approximately 10:00 pm on the back porch of her parent’s home. Before her death, Mrs. Wood stated to her mother that Slawson had killed her husband, Gerald Wood, and their two children. Mrs. Wood had been shot once in the abdomen, once in the back, had the incision in the abdomen area, and had several lacerations on her right thigh. Mr. Wood had been stabbed in the abdomen but his death and the death of the two children was attributed to the gunshot wounds that they had received.
The fetus was found next to Mr. Wood’s body and had received two gunshot wounds and multiple lacerations.
04/26/89 Slawson indicted on the following:
Count I: First Degree Murder (Gerald Wood)
Count II: First Degree Murder (Child)
Count III: First Degree Murder (Child)
Count IV: Manslaughter of an unborn child (Fetus)
Count V: First Degree Murder (Peggy Wood)
04/28/89 Slawson pled not guilty to the charges.
10/23/89 Motion for change of venue was filed and denied.
03/15/90 Slawson was found guilty on all counts charged in the indictment.
03/15/90 Upon advisory sentencing, the jury recommended the sentence of death by a majority vote of 8 to 4 for the murder of Gerald Wood, by a majority vote of 7 to 5 for the murder of each of the children, and by a majority vote of 9 to 3 for the murder of Peggy Wood.
04/11/90 Slawson was sentenced as follows:
Count I: First Degree Murder (Gerald Wood) – Death
Count II: First Degree Murder (Child) – Death
Count III: First Degree Murder (Child) – Death
Count IV: Manslaughter of an unborn child (Fetus) – 30 years with 366 days
Count V: First Degree Murder (Peggy Wood) – Death
619 So. 2d 255 (Fla. 1993)
05/07/90 Appeal filed.
04/01/93 FSC affirmed the convictions and sentences.
05/26/93 Rehearing denied.
06/25/93 Mandate issued.
512 U.S. 1246 (U.S. 1994)
10/01/93 Petition filed.
06/27/94 USSC denied petition.
09/15/95 Motion filed.
01/13/97 Motion denied.
796 So. 2d 491 (Fla. 2001)
02/20/97 Appeal filed.
07/05/01 FSC dismissed the 3.850 Appeal, affirmed the circuit court’s order finding the defendant competent to waive collateral counsel and all collateral appeals, and affirmed the circuit court’s order to dismiss CCRC-M as counsel.
08/24/01 Rehearing denied.
10/24/01 Mandate issued.
04/14/03 Death warrant signed by Jeb Bush.
05/15/03 Planned date of execution.
05/16/03 Slawson executed.
The delay in this case is due to the defendant filing a pro se motion to waive his collateral counsel and the collateral appeals that necessitated a competency decision.
The Florida Supreme court affirmed Slawson’s conviction and sentence in 06/93. Slawson’s attorney immediately filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the United States Supreme Court, which was promptly denied.
In 9/95, Slawson’s attorneys at CCRC-M filed a writ of mandamus and a request for an extension of time due to the fact that they were unable to meet with the defendant. They claimed that due to a medical condition, Slawson was prevented from being cuffed in the back, and his front cuff pass had been revoked. This writ was denied on 2/22/96, but while it was pending, CCRC-M filed an unverified 3.850 motion. They asserted that the motion was incomplete due to Slawson’s inability to meet with counsel to verify and review the motion. Upon filing an amended unverified motion, their main claim changed to state that Slawson was incompetent under Dusky v. US. CCRC-M retained a mental health expert to evaluate Slawson. The expert performed an evaluation based on psychiatric records, background information, and an interview with the defendant’s counsel. The psychologist diagnosed Slawson with paranoid schizophrenia. CCRC-M claimed that, due to Slawson’s incompetence and his refusal to leave his cell, all but two out of the twenty-eight claims within the amended 3.850 motion could not be verified. On 12/20/96, a Huff hearing was conducted to discern the need for an evidentiary hearing. It was decided that an evidentiary hearing was not necessary based on the incompetency claim; however, if an evidentiary hearing was deemed necessary for the other claims, the claim of competency could be addressed at that time. Defense counsel claimed at this time that they could not develop the other claims due to their inability to meet with Slawson. The circuit court denied the 3.850 motion on January 13, 1997.
CCRC filed a 3.850 appeal on 02/20/97. The appeal was scheduled for an oral argument, but prior to its fruition, Slawson filed a motion pro se to Relinquish Jurisdiction with the Florida Supreme Court. Slawson also filed a motion pro se for Withdrawal and Termination of Appeal in the circuit court. On 08/28/98, the Florida Supreme Court relinquished jurisdiction for 60 days in order for the circuit court to rule on the withdrawal motion. The order also specified that the defendant be present at the hearing. On the same day, the circuit court held a hearing on the withdrawal motion and determined that Slawson was competent to waive his rights to collateral counsel and collateral appeals. The opinion was supplied to the Florida Supreme Court, which remanded it to the circuit court on 12/17/98 for a mental health evaluation to aid in discerning competency.
The circuit court appointed three mental health experts to evaluate Slawson. The written reports filed by the mental health experts revealed that two found Slawson competent, while one found him incompetent. On 03/19/99, the circuit court issued an order finding Slawson competent. On 04/03/00, during oral arguments held by the Florida Supreme Court, it was determined that the competency decision was not based on live testimony; therefore, the case was relinquished back to the circuit court for live testimony from the mental health experts. During the testimony of the mental health experts in the circuit court, the one remaining expert who had previously found Slawson incompetent recanted his prior assessment and rendered Slawson competent. On 10/25/00, the circuit court again ruled that Slawson was competent due to the agreement among the mental health experts. On 11/09/00, a Faretta hearing was conducted to determine if the defendant’s decision to waive his rights was “knowing, intelligent, and voluntary.”
The Florida Supreme Court ruled that the case followed the general procedures set forth in Durocher, which outline the actions that are necessary when a capital defendant makes a request to waive collateral counsel and collateral appeals. Based on the precedents made by the prior decisions of Durocher, Sanchez-Velasco, and Castro, the Florida Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s competency determination, which found Slawson “competent to make a knowing, intelligent, and voluntary waiver of collateral counsel and collateral appeals”, and in doing so, affirmed the circuit court’s order to discharge CCRC-M from representing Slawson and dismissed the 3.850 appeal.
On 07/05/01, the Florida Supreme Court dismissed the 3.850 Appeal and affirmed the circuit court’s order finding the defendant competent to waive collateral counsel and all collateral appeals. The Florida Supreme Court also affirmed the circuit court’s order to dismiss CCRC-M as counsel. On 08/24/01, Rehearing was denied. On 10/24/01, a mandate was issued.
DATE DAYS VIOLATION LOCATION
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02/24/95 0 UNARMED ASSAULT UNION C. I.
02/24/95 0 DISOBEYING ORDER UNION C. I.
06/01/99 0 UNARMED ASSAULT UNION C. I.
Report Date: 08/01/01 NMP
Approved: 00/00/00 WHS
Updated: 01/09/02 NMP
Updated: 05/16/03 SQ