The Commission on Capital Cases was not funded in the FY 2011-2012 General Appropriations Act, and the Commission ceased operations on June 30, 2011. This site and the Commission website are being retained to provide access to historical materials.

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Last NameFirst NamePictureDC NumberAgencyCase Summary
LooneyJason N00676PrivateCase Summary

Last Action

DateCourtCase NumberLast Action
11/13/2006USDC-N06-519Habeas Petition filed
2/13/2007USDC-N06-519State's Response filed
10/8/2009USDC-N06-519Petition denied with prejudice
11/9/2009USDC-N06-519Certificate of Appealability filed
11/10/2009USDC-N06-519Certificate of Appealability denied
11/9/2009USCA09-15799Appeal filed
12/3/2009USCA09-15799Mandate denying Certificate of Appealability denied

Current Attorney

Last NameFirst NameCityAddressZipPhoneEMail


Last NameCase NumberJudgeCountyCCRCOrder DateContract Date

Last Updated

2008-01-09 11:43:13.0

Case Summary
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The Commission on Capital Cases updates this information regularly

The Commission on Capital Cases updates thisinformation regularly.  This information, however, is subject to changeand may not reflect the latest status of an inmate’s case and should not berelied upon for statistical or legal purposes. 


LOONEY, Jason Bryce (W/M)

DC#    N00676

DOB: 04/05/77          


Second Judicial Circuit, Wakulla County Case# 97-215-CF

Sentencing Judge, Trial:  The Honorable N. SandersSauls

Attorney, Trial:  Greg Cummings – Special AssistantPublic Defender

Attorney, Direct Appeal:  Barbara Sanders – Private

Attorney, Collateral Appeals: Baya Harrison – Private


Date of Offense:  07/27/97     

Date of Sentence:  02/18/00


Circumstances of the Offense:


The bodies of Melanie King and Robin Keith Spears were foundin their burning home in the early morning hours of 07/27/97.


On 07/26/97, Jason Looney, Guerry Hertz, and Jimmy Dempseyleft an acquaintance’s house on foot, which was within walking distance of thevictims’ home, at approximately 11 p.m.  A woman who lived approximately500 yards from the victims’ home said that, at approximately 2 a.m., Hertz cameto her home requesting to use her telephone because “his truck had brokendown.”  She refused and the three men proceeded to walk up the roadtowards the home of Melanie King and Robin Keith Spears.  When Looney sawtheir black Ford Mustang, he exclaimed, “There’s my car right there. That’s theone I want.”


Acting as a decoy, Dempsey and Hertz knocked on the victims’front door and asked if they could use a telephone.  King gave them acordless telephone and Dempsey pretended to make a call.  When Dempseystarted to hand the phone back to King, Hertz forced his way into the home atgunpoint.  Looney entered after him and targeted Spears with hisrifle.  King and Spears were forced face down on their bed after beingbound and gagged with duct tape.  The three defendants stole various itemsincluding a television, a VCR, furniture, jewelry, CDs, and $1500 cash. They loaded the stolen goods into the victims’ two vehicles. 


Hertz and Looney decided that they could not leave witnessesand then informed Dempsey of their plan.  Dempsey testified that Hertz andLooney poured accelerants throughout the house, after which all three men wentback to the bedroom armed.  King told the defendants that she would“rather die being burnt up than shot.”  She then stated, “Please, God,don’t shoot me in the head.”  Hertz replied, “Sorry, can’t do that,”before he started firing his firearm.  Looney started firing and wasfollowed by Dempsey.  Both King and Spears died as a result of the gunshotwounds.


After the shootings, the house was set afire.  Looneydrove away in the victims’ Ford Mustang with Dempsey as a passenger, whileHertz drove the victims’ white Ford Ranger.  Dempsey reported that theentire episode spanned two hours.  They drove to Hertz’ house so that theycould divide the money and unload the stolen cargo.  Testimony was givenby two Tallahassee Wal-Mart employees stating that the three men showed offtheir new vehicles, a black Ford Mustang and a white Ford Ranger, after makinga purchase at approximately 5 a.m.  The employees’ testimony was corroboratedby a Wal-Mart receipt for clothes that was found in the victims’ FordMustang. 


Looney, Hertz, and Dempsey then drove to Daytona Beach,Florida, where they were involved in a police shootout after a policepursuit.  Looney and Dempsey abandoned the victims’ Ford Mustang and werearrested as they were fleeing the scene.  Hertz was shot, abandoned thevictims’ Ford Ranger and paid $100 for a cab-ride to his aunt’s St. Augustinehome.  Hertz was arrested that day and police discovered Spears’ .9mm gunin Hertz’s bag. 


An FDLE firearms expert testified that one of the bulletsfired in the victims’ home was fired from a .380 Lorcin gun that was inLooney’s possession when he was arrested.  The Lorcin gun had belonged toSpears and Dempsey reported that Hertz had used it to shoot the victims. The police also found Dempsey’s wallet containing $380, Looney’s walletcontaining $464, and a roll of duct tape in the victims’ Ford Mustang. Latent fingerprints that matched all three men were taken from the victims’Ford Mustang.  Evidence of various accelerants were found on clothing inthe victim’s Ford Mustang and an expert later testified that the extensive firedamage to the victims’ home could only have been accomplished with the use ofaccelerants. 


The bodies of Melanie King and Robin Keith Spears were bothseverely burned, but the medical examiner testified that both deaths werecaused by gunshot wounds due to a lack of soot in the victims’ trachea,indicating that they were already dead when the fire started.  Furthertestimony indicated that both victims lived one to two minutes after beingshot.


Codefendant Information:


Guerry Wayne Hertz (DC# 567668)


Hertz received identical convictions and sentences asLooney, which included two death sentences (CC# 97-214). 

Jimmy Dewayne Dempsey (DC# 971421)


Dempsey received the same convictions as Looney andHertz.  Because he entered into a plea agreement with the State, Dempseywas sentenced to life for the murders instead of death (CC# 97-213).


Prior Incarceration History:


Prior Community Supervision History: (Note: Data reflected covers periods of community supervision with the Florida Dept. of Corrections since January of 1983)

Offense Date


Sentence Date


Case No.

Community Supervision Length








3Y 0M 0D








3Y 0M 0D




GRAND THEFT,300 L/5,000




3Y 0M 0D




Trial Summary:


08/26/97         Indicted as follows:

                                   Count I:          First-Degree Murder

                                   Count II:         First-Degree Murder

                                   Count III:        Armed Burglary of aDwelling

                                   Count IV:        Robbery with a Firearm

                                   Count V:         Arson of a Dwelling

Count VI:       Threatens to Use Any Firearm

12/09/99         The defendant was found guilty on all counts of the indictment

12/11/99         Jury recommended death by a vote of 10-2

02/18/00         Sentenced as follows:

                                   Count I:          First-Degree Murder – Death

                                   Count II:         First-Degree Murder –Death

                                   Count III:        Armed Burglary of aDwelling – Life

                                   Count IV:        Robbery with a Firearm –Life

                                   Count V:         Arson of a Dwelling –30 Years

                                   Count VI:        Threatens to Use AnyFirearm – 15 Years

Appeal Summary:


Florida Supreme Court – Direct Appeal

FSC# 00-458

 803 So. 2d 656


03/03/00         Appeal filed

11/01/01         Convictions and sentences affirmed

12/21/01         Rehearing denied

12/21/01         Mandate issued


United States Supreme Court – Petition for Writ ofCertiorari

USSC# 01-9932

122 S. Ct. 2678; 153 L. Ed. 2d 850


03/19/02         Petition filed

06/28/02         Petition denied


State Circuit Court – 3.850 Motion

CC# 97-215-CF


06/30/03         Motion filed

03/09/04         Amended motion filed

12/30/04         Motion denied


Florida Supreme Court – 3.850 Appeal

FSC# 05-159

941 So.2d 1017 (2006)


01/27/05         Appeal filed

06/22/06         The FSC affirmed the Circuit Court’s denial of Looney’s 3.850 Motion.

10/27/06         Motion for rehearing denied

11/13/06         Mandate issued


United States District Court, Northern District –Habeas Petition

USDC# 06-519


11/13/06         Petition filed

10/08/09         Petition denied with prejudice

11/09/09          Application for Certificate ofAppealability

11/10/09          Application denied


United States Court of Appeals, 11thDistrict – Habeas Appeal

USCA# 09-15799


11/09/09          Appeal filed

12/03/09          Mandate denying Certificate ofAppealability issued


Factors Contributing to the Delay in Imposition ofSentence:


There have been no undue delays in this case.


Case Information:


A Direct Appeal was filed to the Florida Supreme Court on03/03/00.  Issues that were raised on appeal included whether the detailsof the collateral crimes in Volusia County became a feature of the trialcausing prejudice that substantially outweighed the probative value of theevidence and whether the trial court erred by refusing to grant a mistrialafter the State’s witness testified about a hearsay statement by anon-testifying codefendant that incriminated Looney.  The Court found allof the claims either harmless or without merit and affirmed the conviction andsentence on 11/01/01.

Looney filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the UnitedStates Supreme Court on 03/20/02, which was denied on 06/28/02.


Looney filed a 3.850 Motion to the Circuit Court on06/30/03.  It was amended on 03/09/04.  The motion was denied on12/30/04.


On 01/27/05, Looney filed a 3.850 Appeal to the FloridaSupreme Court.  During the appeal, Looney raised the issue of ineffectivecounsel.  He claimed that the defense counsel (Attorney Cummings) failedto:  (1) present statutory and non-statutory mitigation, (2) use a mentalhealth expert, and (3) present mitigation convincingly.  The Courtconcluded that Looney failed to meet his burden under Strickland.  All ofthe additional mitigators that Looney asserts were not presented during thepenalty phase were either presented or not presented because defense counselhad no indication that the mitigating factor might apply to Looney’scase.  As a result, the Court finds that effective counsel was providedand none of the testimony presented by Looney during the evidentiary hearingundermines the Court’s confidence in the proceedings.  Therefore, theCourt affirmed the Circuit Court’s denial of Looney’s 3.850 Motion on06/22/06.  On 10/27/06, the motion for rehearing was denied.  On11/13/06, the mandate was issued.


On 11/13/06, Looney filed a Habeas Petition in the UnitedStates District Court, Northern District.  This petition was denied withprejudice on 10/08/09. Looney filed an application for a Certificate ofAppealability on 11/09/09, and it was denied on 11/10/09.


Looney filed a Habeas appeal in the United States Court ofAppeals, 11th District on 11/09/09. A mandate denying hisCertificate of Appealability was issued on 12/03/09.


Institutional Adjustment:









Possession of Contraband

Florida State Prison





Report Date:  03/04/04          CC

Approved:      03/09/04         EW     

Updated:        10/26/10          EMJ