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.
HERNANDEZ, MICHAEL (W/M)
First Judicial Circuit, Santa Rosa County Case #04-1184
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Ronald Swanson
Attorney, Trial: Richard T. Hill & Michael R. Rollo – Court-appointed
Attorney, Direct Appeal: David Davis – Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, Collateral Appeals: Curtis French – Registry
Date of Offense: 11/18/04
Date of Sentence: 03/22/07
Circumstances of Offense:
Michael Hernandez was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Ruth Everett.
On November 18, 2004, Michael Hernandez and his friend, Christopher Arnold, wanted money to purchase crack cocaine. They decided to obtain money from David Everett--a cocaine supplier with whom they were both acquainted. The two went to the home Everett shared with his mother, Ruth Everett.
When Arnold and Hernandez arrived at the house, David was not there, but Ms. Everett was. Hernandez and Arnold told Ms. Everett that her son owed them money. Arnold then attempted to smother Ms. Everett with a pillow. When the attempt did not work, Hernandez cracked her neck and slashed her throat with a knife. The two men then ransacked the house, taking $40 in cash as well as Ms. Everett’s debit card. They used the debit card at various cash machines, obtaining approximately $300 total. They used all of the cash to buy crack cocaine.
The next day, Hernandez drove to the Milton Police Department and confessed to the murder. That same day, Arnold called the police to his home, where he confessed to participating in the murder.
The autopsy revealed that Ruth Everett died as a result of a broken neck and a 4.5-inch cut to her neck, either of which would have been fatal. There was also evidence of a blunt force injury to her face, which is indicative of smothering.
Christopher Arnold pled guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Approximately one year after his arrest, Hernandez assaulted a corrections officer. For that offense, he was convicted of aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer. He also attacked Christopher Arnold while they were in jail awaiting trial. For that offense, he was convicted of simple battery on a jail detainee.
12/13/04 Indicted as follows:
Count I: First-Degree Murder
Count II: Armed Robbery
Count III: Armed Burglary
01/19/06 Jury returned guilty verdicts on all counts of the indictment
02/09/07 Jury recommended death by a vote of 11-1
03/22/07 Sentenced as follows:
Count I: First-Degree Murder – Death
Count II: Armed Robbery – Life
Count III: Armed Burglary – Life
Florida Supreme Court – Direct Appeal
4 So. 3d 642
04/09/07 Appeal filed.
01/30/09 FSC affirmed convictions and sentence.
United States Supreme Court – Petition for Writ of Certiorari
05/18/09 Petition filed.
10/05/09 Petition denied.
Circuit Court – Motion to Vacate Judgment and Sentence (3.851)
09/28/10 Motion filed.
On 04/09/07, Hernandez filed a direct appeal in the Florida Supreme Court citing the following issues: jury selection; culpability of co-defendant; inappropriate application of the “avoid arrest” aggravator; inappropriate application of the HAC aggravator; failure of the indictment to list the aggravating factors; trial court’s error in allowing the State’s mental health expert to be present in the courtroom during the penalty phase. This appeal was denied on 01/30/09.
On 05/18/09, Hernandez filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court. This petition was denied on 10/05/09.
On 09/28/10, Hernandez filed a Motion to Vacate Judgment and Sentence. This motion is still pending.
Report Date: 03/04/09 KLH
Approved: 03/11/09 KLH
Updated: 01/26/11 CAR