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.
FRANCES, David (B/M)
Ninth Judicial Circuit, Orange County Case #00-16204
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable John H. Adams
Attorney, Trial: Gerod J. Hooper- Assistant Public Defender
Attorneys, Direct Appeal: James R. Wulchak – Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, Collateral Appeals: Robert T. Strain – CCRC-M
Date of Offense: 11/06/00
Date of Sentence: 04/29/05
Circumstances of Offense:
David Sylvester Frances was convicted on 10/29/04 and sentenced to death on 04/29/05 for the murder of Helena Mills and JoAnna Charles.
Helena Mills and JoAnna Charles were found dead in Mills’ home at 6:00 PM on 11/06/00. Both women were strangled to death with an electrical cord. There were no signs of forced entry into the condominium. Mills’ automobile, some jewelry belonging to Charles, and a Playstation belonging to Mills’ son were also stolen from the scene. Male DNA was found under Charles’ fingernails, but could not be matched to either defendant due to the small sample size. No useable fingerprints were obtained from the electrical cord.
Earlier that morning, David Frances and his younger brother Elvis Frances knocked on the door of Mills’ home and spoke with Mills’ son. They learned that Charles, a 16-year-old family friend living with Mills, was staying home from school that day due to illness.
On 12/05/2000, Frances and his brother were detained in DeKalb County, Georgia following a traffic stop. Elvis was driving Mills’ stolen vehicle; David was a passenger in the same vehicle.
During his first interview with Orlando police detectives, David claimed that Elvis killed both victims. David admitted to helping Elvis move the bodies and steal Mills’ car. Elvis stated in his interview that David participated in the murders.
During his second interview with Orlando police detectives on 12/06/00, David provided additional information regarding the murders. His mother wanted both David and Elvis to move out of the house. The brothers had no money and no car, so they planned to steal Mills’ car and drive to Tallahassee. David stated that he strangled Mills with an electrical cord. The brothers wrapped an electrical cord around Charles’ neck and each pulled on an end until she was dead. They then stole the jewelry, the Playstation, and Mills’ car, and pawned the stolen items. They drove to Tallahassee and then to Georgia in Mills’ car.
The defendant’s younger brother Elvis Frances was sentenced to life in prison for the killings. He is not eligible for the death penalty as he was 16 at the time of the murders.
10/29/04 Indicted as follows:
Count I: First-Degree murder
Count II: First-Degree murder
Count III: Robbery
Count IV: Petty theft
Count V: Petty theft
10/29/04 Jury returned guilty verdicts on all counts of the indictment
04/29/05 Jury recommended death by a vote of 9-3 for Count I
04/29/05 Jury recommended death by a vote of 10-2 for Count II
04/29/05 Sentenced as follows:
Count I: First-Degree murder – Death
Count II: First-Degree murder – Death
Count III: Robbery- 15 years
Count IV: Petit theft- 2 months
Count V: Petit theft- 2 months
Florida Supreme Court – Direct Appeal
970 So. 2d 806
05/20/05 Direct appeal filed.
10/11/07 Appeal denied.
12/21/07 Mandate issued.
United States Supreme Court – Petition for Writ of Certiorari
128 S. Ct. 2441
03/05/08 Petition filed.
05/13/08 Petition denied.
Circuit Court – 3.850 Motion
04/09/09 Motion filed.
Factors Contributing to the Delay in Imposition of Sentence:
The state attorney’s office did not exceed the acceptable timeframe.
On 5/20/05, Frances raised the following issues in a direct appeal: the heinous, atrocious, or cruel aggravating factor should not apply to this case; the trial court improperly applied the prior violent felony conviction aggravating circumstance; the trial court failed to find that the mitigating circumstances outweighed the aggravating circumstances; and the death sentence was disproportionate. The appeal was denied on 10/11/07.
On 03/05/08, Frances filed a petition for Writ of Certiorari with the United States Supreme Court which was denied on 05/13/08.
On 04/09/09, Frances filed a 3.850 Motion in the Circuit Court. This motion is pending.
Report Date: 11/28/07 klh
Approved: 12/03/07 klh
Updated: 05/22/09 klh