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WHITTON, Gary Richard (W/M)
DC # 936283
First Judicial Circuit, Walton County, Case #90-0429
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Laura Melvin
Attorneys, Trial: William B. Bishop & James W. Tongue – Assistant Public Defenders
Attorney, Direct Appeal: Paula S. Saunders – Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, Collateral Appeals: Mark Olive, Esq. – Registry
Date of Offense: 10/10/90
Date of Sentence: 09/10/92
Circumstances of Offense:
Gary Whitton was convicted and sentenced to death for the 10/10/90 murder of James Mauldin.
Gary Whitton met James Mauldin in March of 1989 at a halfway house in Pensacola where the two men were receiving alcohol treatment. After leaving the halfway house, Whitton and Mauldin would see each other occasionally at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
On 10/07/90, Mauldin spent the night at Whitton’s home after showing up intoxicated. On 10/08/90, the two men drove to Destin so Mauldin could withdraw money from his bank. The bank was closed, so the men returned the following day. Mauldin closed his account after he was told by the bank teller that he could not withdraw money without his passbook, which he did not have. Whitton assisted Mauldin with filling out the forms required for closing his account because Mauldin was too intoxicated to do so himself. Mauldin left the bank with $1,135.88 in cash. Both men then checked into a hotel in Destin. Whitton filled out the hotel forms, giving a false license plate number. The hotel clerk noticed the discrepancy in the license plate numbers and recorded the correct information on the hotel forms. After checking in, Whitton left the hotel at approximately 12:00 p.m., and he claimed he did not return to the hotel again.
During the investigation, Whitton told officers that he did not return to the hotel the night of the murder. Whitton later told the officers that he did return for a few minutes, but that Mauldin was already dead when he arrived. The hotel clerk said that he saw Whitton’s car arrive at approximately 10:30 p.m. and leave again at approximately 12:30 a.m. The same hotel clerk found Mauldin’s body the next day.
Mauldin’s body was found with numerous injuries, including a fractured skull and stab wounds to the shoulder, cheek, neck, scalp, back and heart. Tests indicated that he had a 0.34 blood alcohol level at the time of his death and, according to police records, Mauldin had no money on him besides some spare change.
Police brought Whitton to the station for questioning on 10/11/90, after being alerted by the hotel clerk about the false information given by Whitton on the hotel forms. A search of Whitton’s home revealed a pair of boots that were stained with blood that matched Mauldin’s blood-type. The police then searched Whitton’s car where they found bloodstains that also matched Mauldin’s blood type.
While in jail awaiting trial, Whitton confessed to an inmate (and was overheard by a second inmate) that he returned to the hotel to steal Mauldin’s money and killed him because he was afraid that Mauldin would have testified against him in a parole violation hearing as a result of the robbery. Both inmates gave statements attesting to this information.
12/03/90 The defendant was indicted on the following charges:
Count I: First-Degree Murder (James Mauldin)
Count II: Robbery
08/04/92 The jury found the defendant guilty as charged.
08/04/92 Upon advisory sentencing, the jury, by a 12 to 0 majority, voted for the
09/10/92 The defendant was sentenced as follows:
Count I: First-Degree Murder - Death
Count II: Robbery - 9 Years
Florida Supreme Court - Direct Appeal
649 So. 2d 861 (Fla. 1994)
09/28/92 Appeal filed.
12/01/94 FSC affirmed Whitton’s conviction and sentence of death.
02/14/95 Rehearing denied.
03/15/95 Mandate issued.
U.S. Supreme Court - Petition for Writ of Certiorari
516 U.S. 832 (U.S. 1995)
05/15/95 Petition filed.
10/02/95 Petition denied.
State Circuit Court - 3.850 Motion
03/24/97 Motion filed.
08/30/02 Motion amended.
11/02/04 Motion amended.
Factors Contributing to the Delay in Imposition of Sentence:
Whitton’s 3.850 Motion has been pending in the trial court since 03/24/97. Thirteen years have passed without a disposition on the motion. According to the Florida Supreme Court Post Conviction Quarterly Report, Quarter 4-2009, further delays, including a change of defense counsel, change of judges, workload, and family sickness have caused the target date for the written disposition order to be changed to “not later than March 31, 2010.” The target date for the written disposition order has now been changed to 05/19/10, “absent emergency or extraordinary circumstances,” according to the Florida Supreme Court Post Conviction Quarterly Report, Quarter 1-2010. The target date for the written disposition order has now been changed to the Third Quarter 2010 (approximately October), according to the Florida Supreme Court Post Conviction Quarterly Report, Quarter 2-2010. The target date for the written disposition order has now been changed to “on or before 12/17/10”--according the Florida Supreme Court Post Conviction Quarterly Report, Quarter 3-2010. The target date for the written disposition order has now been moved to “on or before 3/31/11”—according the Florida Supreme Court Post Conviction Quarterly Report, Quarter 4-2010. According the Florida Supreme Court Quarterly Report, Quarter 1-2011, the target date for the written disposition order has been moved to 4/8/11. The case has been reassigned to the Escambia Division.
On 09/28/92, Whitton filed a Direct Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court. In that appeal, Whitton argued that the trial court erred in denying his motion for mistrial after the prosecutor commented on his post-arrest silence during closing argument. Whitton also argued the consideration and application of the heinous, atrocious or cruel aggravating factor and the avoiding arrest aggravating factor. On 12/01/92, the Florida Supreme Court affirmed Walton’s conviction and sentence of death.
On 05/15/95, Whitton filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court that was subsequently denied on 10/02/95.
On 03/24/97, the Whitton filed a 3.850 Motion in the State Circuit Court that is currently pending.
DATE DAYS VIOLATION LOCATION
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01/04/93 0 DISOBEYING ORDER UNION C. I.
01/09/93 0 DISOBEYING ORDER UNION C. I.
03/29/93 0 DISRESP.TO OFFICIALS UNION C. I.
07/11/93 0 DISOBEYING ORDER UNION C. I.
04/21/94 0 DISORDERLY CONDUCT UNION C. I.
08/26/94 0 DISRESP.TO OFFICIALS UNION C. I.
09/03/94 0 SPOKEN THREATS UNION C. I.
09/03/94 0 DISRESP.TO OFFICIALS UNION C. I.
04/05/95 0 DISOBEYING ORDER UNION C. I.
08/02/95 0 UNAUTH USE OF DRUGS UNION C. I.
05/01/01 60 DISOBEYING ORDER UNION C. I.
Reported 10/01/02 EW
Approved 10/08/02 WS
Updated 01/14/11 MJH