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 on for statistical or legal purposes.
CONNOR, Seburt Nelson (B/M)
Eleventh Judicial Circuit, Dade County, Case #92-39548
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Maxine Cohen-Lando
Attorneys, Criminal Trial: Louis Jepeway, Esq. & Eugene Zenobi, Esq.
Attorney, Direct Appeal: Louis Campbell – Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, Collateral Appeals: David S. Molansky, Esq. – Registry
Date of Offense: 11/19/92
Date of Sentence: 06/19/98
Circumstances of Offense:
During 1970’s, Seburt Connor was involved in an extramarital relationship with Margaret Bennett. When she discovered that Connor was married, she ended their relationship. Margaret later married Lawrence Goodine and had two daughters by him, Karen and Jessica. When Margaret and Lawrence separated in the late 1980’s, she renewed her relationship with Connor, and he became a father figure to her two girls.
In 1992, Margaret told Connor that she did not want to see him anymore. Connor continued to harass Margaret for several months after that. He reportedly drove by her house shooting a gun and one of Margaret’s neighbors reported receiving a menacing phone call from a man she believed to be Connor. The caller threatened to kill Margaret and her daughter Karen. Margaret’s home had also been burglarized several times, with the burglar stealing bed sheets, towels and linens.
On 07/28/92, Margaret got an ex parte domestic violence injunction against Connor and a permanent injunction was issued on 08/19/92.
Connor reportedly told one of Margaret’s neighbors that he would stop harassing her if she would get back together with her husband, Lawrence Goodine. As such, Margaret asked Lawrence to move in with her in September 1992. The harassment, however, did not stop. Connor bought a black Cadillac that was identical to the one driven by Margaret Bennett and was seen numerous times driving slowly through their neighborhood.
On 11/19/92, Margaret and her daughters left for work and school, respectively, while Lawrence remained at home. He was last seen at home at approximately 2:30 p.m. Ten year-old Jessica returned home from school that afternoon and immediately went across the street to play with a friend. When Jessica noticed a black Cadillac in her driveway, she went home. Shortly after, Jessica returned to her friend’s house and told her she was leaving. Her friend saw her leave in the black Cadillac with a man who she assumed was Jessica’s father, Lawrence Goodine.
When Karen Goodine returned home that afternoon, neither Lawrence nor Jessica were there, and it appeared that someone had been in the house, so she alerted her mother. Margaret then called the police and noted that she thought Connor had something to do with the disappearances. Detectives went to the Connor residence in the early morning hours of 11/20/92. Connor told detectives that he had not seen Lawrence or Jessica that day.
In the late afternoon of 11/20/92, the body of Lawrence Goodine was found in a wooded area near the Ft. Lauderdale airport. He had suffered five severe blows to the head, each of which could have rendered him unconscious and could have been fatal. When detectives went to the Goodine residence to report the discovery of his body, they noticed blood on the carpet and a broken chair. Detectives hypothesized that Lawrence was bludgeoned to death with the leg of the chair.
Detectives returned to Connor’s residence on 11/21/92 to question him further. Connor voluntarily agreed to go to the police station. Detective Tymes asked Connor if she could search his Cadillac and the cottage behind his home and he agreed, giving written consent. Detective Tymes noticed bloodstains in the back and trunk of the Cadillac, but nothing appeared suspicious in the cottage.
Although he was not under arrest, Connor was advised of his Miranda rights, which he waived. During questioning, detectives noticed blood on Connor’s socks and shoes. Detective Tymes asked Connor if she could take his socks and shoes, Connor agreed and signed a consent form. DNA tests revealed that the blood on his socks and shoes was that of Lawrence Goodine. Detectives then asked if they could search Connor’s house and the cottage behind it. Connor agreed and signed another consent form.
A subsequent search of the Connor’s cottage uncovered the body of Jessica Goodine, wrapped in a comforter and wedged between the bed and the wall. The cause of death was determined to be manual strangulation and the time of death was estimated at some time late on 11/20/92. The police obtained a search warrant to impound Connor’s Cadillac for a more extensive examination. The blood found in the car was determined to belong to Lawrence Goodine.
12/02/92 The defendant was indicted on the following:
Count I: First-Degree Murder (Lawrence Goodine)
Count II: First-Degree Murder (Jessica Goodine)
Count III: Kidnapping
Count IV: Burglary with Assault
02/11/98 The jury found the defendant guilty on all counts charged in the indictment.
02/26/98 Upon advisory sentencing, the jury, by an 8 to 4 majority, voted for the death penalty for the murder of Jessica Goodine and recommended life imprisonment
for the murder of Lawrence Goodine.
06/19/98 The defendant was sentenced as follows:
Count I: First-Degree Murder (Lawrence Goodine) - Life
Count II: First-Degree Murder (Jessica Goodine) - Death
Count III: Kidnapping – 20 years
Count IV: Burglary with Assault – 20 years
Florida Supreme Court - Direct Appeal
803 So. 2d 598 (Fla. 2001)
08/17/98 Appeal filed.
09/06/01 FSC affirmed the convictions and sentence of death.
12/17/01 Rehearing denied.
12/17/01 Mandate issued.
United States Supreme Court - Petition for Writ of Certiorari
535 U.S. 1103
03/27/02 Petition filed.
05/28/02 Petition denied.
State Circuit Court - 3.850 Motion
05/23/03 Motion filed.
06/04/04 Motion denied.
Florida Supreme Court – 3.850 Motion Appeal
979 So. 2d 852
06/30/04 Appeal filed.
11/15/07 Appeal denied.
11/30/07 Motion for rehearing.
04/10/08 Rehearing denied.
04/28/08 Mandate issued.
Florida Supreme Court – Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus
08/07/06 Petition filed.
08/20/07 Petition dismissed.
United States District Court, Southern District – Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus
04/14/08 Petition filed.
05/18/10 Petition denied.
06/17/10 Motion for Certificate of Appealability (COA) filed.
10/13/10 Motion granted in part.
State Circuit Court - 3.850 Motion
12/10/08 Motion filed.
12/24/08 Motion denied.
United States Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit – Habeas Appeal
06/14/10 Appeal filed.
Factors Contributing to the Delay in the Imposition of the Sentence:
The disposition of Connor’s Direct Appeal took over three years to complete due to filing extensions.
On 08/17/98, Connor filed a Direct Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court. In that appeal, he argued that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence (his socks and shoes, bloody clothing, the body of Jessica Goodine and materials seized from his Cadillac). Connor claimed that his illegal arrest “tainted the subsequent consents that he gave for the searches of his house, his car, and his clothes.” The Florida Supreme Court found that, even if initial encounter was illegal, subsequent consents for searches had not been tainted. Connor additionally claimed that that the trial court erred in its application of the “avoid arrest” aggravating factor. The Florida Supreme Court agreed; however, they noted that the application of four other aggravating factors far outweighed the existence of any mitigation, making the error harmless. Connor also argued the consideration and application of other aggravating and mitigating circumstances. The Florida Supreme Court affirmed his convictions and sentence of death on 09/06/01.
On 03/27/02, Connor filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court, which was denied on 05/28/02.
On 05/23/03, Connor filed a 3.850 Motion in the State Circuit Court, which was denied 06/04/04.
On 06/30/04, Connor filed a 3.850 Motion Appeal with the Florida Supreme Court, which was denied on 11/15/07. The rehearing was denied on 04/10/08 and a mandate was issued 04/28/08.
On 08/07/06, Connor submitted a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus to the Florida Supreme Court, which was dismissed on 08/20/07.
On 11/19/07, Connor filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in the United States District Court, which was denied on 05/18/10. On 06/17/10, Connor filed a Motion for COA, which was granted in part on 10/13/10.
On 12/10/08, Connor filed a 3.850 Motion in the State Circuit Court, which was denied on 12/24/08.
On 06/14/10, Connor filed a Habeas Appeal in the United States Court of Appeals, which is pending.
DATE DAYS VIOLATION LOCATION
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10/18/98 20 BRIBERY OR ATTEMPTED FSP
10/19/98 0 DEST. OF ST. PROP. FSP
01/13/99 12 DISOBEYING ORDER FSP
01/20/99 60 DISOBEYING ORDER FSP
02/11/99 0 POSS OF NARCOTICS FSP
03/14/99 30 POSS OF CONTRABAND FSP
05/27/99 60 DISOBEYING ORDER FSP
07/25/99 30 DEFACING STATE PROP. FSP
07/25/99 60 LYING TO STAFF FSP
08/29/99 0 DISOBEYING ORDER FSP
08/30/99 0 DISOBEYING ORDER FSP
08/30/99 0 DISOBEYING ORDER FSP
02/24/01 0 SPOKEN THREATS UNION C. I.
08/27/01 0 UNARMED ASSAULT UNION C. I.
11/15/01 0 DISOBEYING ORDER UNION C. I.
12/20/01 0 DISOBEYING ORDER UNION C. I.
01/30/02 0 DISOBEYING ORDER UNION C. I.
02/28/02 0 DISOBEYING ORDER UNION C. I.
04/04/02 0 DISOBEYING ORDER UNION C. I.
04/18/02 0 POSS OF CONTRABAND UNION C. I.
05/13/02 0 DISOBEYING ORDER UNION C. I.
05/16/02 0 DISOBEYING ORDER UNION C. I.
06/20/02 0 DISOBEYING ORDER UNION C. I.
08/05/02 0 FAILURE TO COMPLY UNION C. I.
08/11/02 0 UNARMED ASSAULT UNION C. I.
09/07/02 0 DISOBEYING ORDER UNION C. I.
01/06/03 0 SPOKEN THREATS UNION C. I.
01/08/03 0 UNARMED ASSAULT UNION C. I.
01/10/03 0 UNARMED ASSAULT UNION C. I.
03/17/03 0 DISOBEYING ORDER UNION C. I.
04/28/03 0 DISOBEYING ORDER UNION C. I.
05/22/03 0 POSS OF CONTRABAND UNION C. I.
05/22/03 0 UNARMED ASSAULT UNION C. I.
10/17/03 0 SPOKEN THREATS UNION C. I.
11/21/03 0 DISOBEYING ORDER UNION C. I.
01/21/04 0 DISOBEYING ORDER UNION C. I.
01/21/04 0 DISRESP.TO OFFICIALS UNION C. I.
09/04/02 – ew
09/19/02 – approved – ws
11/10/10 – updated – jjk