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.
CONAHAN, Daniel (W/M)
DC # Y02046
Twentieth Judicial Circuit, Charlotte County, Case #97-166
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable William L. Blackwell
Attorney, Criminal Trial: Paul Sullivan, Esq.
Attorney, Direct Appeal: Paul Helm – Assistant Public Defender
Attorneys, Collateral Appeals: Christina L. Spudeas – CCRC-S
Date of Offense: 04/16/96
Date of Sentence: 12/10/99
Circumstances of Offense:
Daniel Conahan was convicted and sentenced to death for the kidnapping and premeditated murder of Richard Montgomery.
Richard Montgomery was last seen by his friends on 04/16/96. Montgomery said that he was going out to make a few hundred dollars and would return shortly. When asked if whether this money-making activity was legal, Montgomery smirked and said nothing.
In a previous conversation with his mother, Montgomery told her that someone offered him $200 to pose for nude pictures, but declined to tell her who made the offer. In the same conversation, Montgomery told her he met a new friend, Daniel Conahan, who was a nurse living in Punta Gorda.
The next day, two Charlotte County Utility Engineers discovered a human skull in a wooded area off Highway 41. Police officers called to the scene discovered the nude body of Montgomery. His body displayed neck, wrist and waist trauma consistent with ligature or bondage marks. Also, Montgomery’s penis had been amputated postmortem. Crime scene investigators collected a rope, a carpet pad used to cover Montgomery’s body, a skull and torso (belonging to another individual), a gray coat and numerous combings. A K-9 dog, trained to detect human scent, was called to the scene and showed particular interest in a palm tree, which was flattened or otherwise damaged on one side. Autopsy reports concluded that Montgomery died as a result of strangulation and the ligature marks covering his body were consistent with being tied to a tree.
Due to the unique modus operandi of this case, police reviewed a similar assault reported two years earlier. Stanley Burden reported that Daniel Conahan offered to pay him $100 to $150 to pose for nude bondage photographs. Burden agreed and Conahan drove the two of them to a wooded location. After taking several pictures, Conahan pulled out a rope and tied Burden to a tree. While restrained, Conahan performed oral sex on Burden and attempted to have anal sex with him. Burden resisted by positioning his back side up against the tree. Conahan placed the rope around Burden’s neck and unsuccessfully tried to strangle him for half an hour. Conahan asked Burden why he would not die and Conahan finally gave up. Burden freed himself and reported the incident to the police. The police located the crime scene and found a tree with markings that corroborated Burden’s injuries and story. At that time, police began an undercover investigation of Daniel Conahan.
Following his arrest, Conahan was indicted for the kidnapping, sexual battery and murder of Montgomery. Conahan waived his right to a trial by jury. During the guilt phase, the State presented evidence that, on the day of Montgomery’s disappearance, Conahan’s credit card was used to buy rope, Polaroid Film, pliers and a knife.
A Motion for Change of Venue to Collier County was granted for the penalty phase.
02/25/97 Defendant indicted on the following:
Count I: First-Degree Premeditated Murder
Count II: First-Degree Felony Murder
Count III: Kidnapping
Count IV: Sexual Battery
08/09/99 Defendant adjudicated as follows:
Count I: First-Degree Premeditated Murder - Guilty
Count II: First-Degree Felony Murder – Nolle Prosse by State
Count III: Kidnapping - Guilty
Count IV: Sexual Battery – Acquitted
11/01/99 Upon advisory sentencing, the jury, by a 12 to 0 majority, voted for the imposition of the death penalty.
12/10/99 The defendant was sentenced as follows:
Count I: First-Degree Premeditated Murder – Death
Count III: Kidnapping – 6 years, 8 months
Florida Supreme Court - Direct Appeal
844 So.2d 1629
01/24/00 Appeal filed.
01/16/03 FSC affirmed the convictions and sentence of death.
04/24/03 Rehearing denied in light of revised opinion.
04/24/03 Mandate issued.
United States Supreme Court - Petition for Writ of Certiorari
540 U.S. 895
07/03/03 Petition filed.
10/06/03 Petition denied.
Circuit Court – 3.851 Motion
10/01/04 Motion filed.
01/31/11 Motion denied.
02/18/11 Motion for rehearing.
03/01/11 Motion denied.
Florida Supreme Court – 3.851 Motion Appeal
03/30/11 Appeal filed.
Factors Contributing to the Delay in the Imposition of the Sentence:
It took more than six years for the Circuit Court to deny Conahan’s 3.851 motion.
Conahan filed a Direct Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court on 01/24/00. In that appeal, he argued that the trial court erred in denying his motion for acquittal because the State’s circumstantial evidence was legally insufficient. Conahan also claimed that the trial court erred in its consideration and application of aggravating circumstances. Lastly, Conahan contended that the prosecutor violated his right to a fair trial by making improper comments in his opening and closing remarks of the penalty phase. The Florida Supreme Court agreed that the prosecutor did improperly comment upon evidence at the penalty phase, but concluded that the error was harmless. As such, the Florida Supreme Court affirmed Conahan’s convictions and sentence on 01/16/03. The court issued a revised opinion on 04/24/03, again affirming the convictions and sentence of death.
Conahan filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court on 07/03/03, which was denied on 10/06/03.
Conahan filed a 3.851 Motion with the Circuit Court on 10/01/04. That motion was denied on 01/31/11. Conahan filed a motion for rehearing on 02/18/11, which was denied on 03/01/11.
Conahan filed a 3.851 Motion appeal in the circuit court on 03/30/11. That appeal is pending.
Report Date: 05/21/04 – ew
Updated: 04/13/11 – jjk