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.

The Registry Attorneys will be continued by the Justice Administration Commission.

These actions are effective July 1, 2011.

Disclaimer: The Commission on Capital Cases receives this information from a variety of sources. The site will be updated consistently as information is received and will be audited bi-annually. We make every attempt to ensure the accuracy of the information provided; however, the information should be verified by the applicable court prior to using it for legal or statistical purposes.


Last NameFirst NamePictureDC NumberAgencyCase Summary
DuckettJames 112232CCRC-SCase Summary

Last Action

DateCourtCase NumberLast Action
1/8/2007USDC07-00006Habeas Corpus
3/25/2010USDC07-00006Petition denied
7/12/2010USDC07-00006COA filed
8/23/2010USDC07-00006COA denied
6/29/2010USCA10-13095Habeas Appeal
11/1/2010USCA10-13095COA denied
11/29/2010CC87-1347Successive 3.851 Motion filed

Current Attorney

Last NameFirst NameCityAddressZipPhoneEMail
WellsMary ElizabethAtlanta, GA376 Milledge Ave SE30312404/408-2180Email


Last NameCase NumberJudgeCountyCCRCOrder DateContract Date

Last Updated

2008-01-09 11:43:13.0

Case Summary
Direct Links

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. 


DUCKETT, James (W/M)

DC# 112232

DOB: 09/04/57


Fifth Judicial Circuit, Lake County Case # 87-1347 &88-0262

Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Jerry T. Lockett

Attorney, Trial: Jack Edmund – Private

Attorney, Direct Appeal: Jack Edmund – Private

Attorney, Collateral Appeals:  Mary Elizabeth Wells –CCRC-S


Date of Offense:          05/12/87

Date of Sentence:        06/30/88


Circumstances of Offense:


James Duckett was the only policeofficer on patrol on the night of 05/11/87 in the city of Mascotte,Florida.  Around 10:00 p.m., eleven-year-old Teresa McAbeewalked to a convenience store to purchase a pencil and, after leaving thestore, stopped to talk to a sixteen-year-old boy outside the store.  Duckett arrived at the convenience store shortly afterwardand, after asking the store clerk the age of McAbee,he approached McAbee and the boy.  After a briefconversation, Duckett told McAbeeto go home, leaving the boy to wait for his uncle.  When the boy’s unclearrived, the boy and his uncle witnessed McAbeegetting into the passenger side of Duckett’s patrolcar. 


At 11:00 p.m., McAbee’s motherwalked to the convenience store, looking for her daughter.  The storeclerk told the mother that McAbee had left with Duckett and was probably at the Mascottepolice station.  When no one was found at the Mascottepolice station, the mother drove to nearby Groveland police station, where shereported her daughter missing.  The Groveland police officer contacted a Mascotte police officer, and Duckettarrived at the Groveland police station within twenty minutes.  Duckett used a picture of McAbeeto make a flyer that he said he would post at convenience stores in the area, however, he failed to do so. 


The store clerk reported that the police drove by the storeevery hour, but she reported that Duckett came by at9:30 p.m. but did not return for a few hours.  Additionally, Duckett made no radio calls between 9:50 p.m. and 12:10a.m. 


The next morning McAbee’s body wasfound in a lake less than one mile from the convenience store where she waslast seen.  Medical testimony demonstrated that she was sexually assaultedwhile alive and then drowned.  Blood and a pubic hair, later identified asprobable matches to Duckett, were found in herunderpants and semen was found on her jeans. 


Distinct tire tracks found at the scene were matched to thetires found on the Mascotte Police Department patrolcars.  Duckett’s and McAbee’sfingerprints were found on the hood of the car, indicating that she was sittingbackwards on the hood of the car. 


At trial, three girls between the ages of seventeen andnineteen testified that in the six months prior to the murder, Duckett had given rides to each of them and had made sexualadvances.  One of the girls testified that she participated in sexual actswith Duckett


Trial Summary:


10/27/87          Indictedfor First Degree Murder (Case# 87-1347)

03/01/88          Informationpresented charging 1 count of Sexual Battery by an Adult of a Victim Under the Age of 12 (Case# 88-0262)

04/11/88          Casesconsolidated

05/10/88          Juryreturned guilty verdicts

Jury recommended a death sentenceby a vote of 8-4

06/30/88          Sentencedas follows:

First DegreeMurder – Death

Sexual Battery –Life Imprisonment


Appeal Summary:


Florida Supreme Court – Direct Appeal

FSC# 72,711

568 So.2d 891


07/05/88         Appeal filed

09/06/90         FSC affirmed conviction and sentence

11/14/90         Rehearing denied

12/17/90         Mandate issued


Circuit Court – 3.850 Motion

CC# 87-1347


05/01/92         Motion filed

06/12/92         Motion amended

11/14/94         Motion amended

08/10/01         Circuit Court denied Motion


Florida Supreme Court – 3.850 Motion Appeal

FSC# SC01-2149

918 So.2d 224


09/28/01         Appeal filed

10/06/05         FSC affirmed denial of motion

12/22/05         Rehearing denied

01/09/06         Mandate issued


Florida Supreme Court – Petition for Writ of HabeasCorpus

FSC# 02-1300

918 So.2d 224


06/07/02         Petition filed

10/06/05         FSC denied petition

12/22/05         Rehearing denied

01/09/06         Mandate issued


United States Supreme Court- Petition for Writ ofCertiorari

USSC #05-12235

127 U.S. 103


05/22/06         Petition filed

10/02/06         Petition denied


United States District Court, Middle District-Petition for Wirt of Habeas Corpus

USDC #07-cv-00006


01/08/07          Petitionfiled

03/25/10          Petitiondenied

07/12/10          COAfiled

08/23/10          COAdenied


United StatesCourt of Appeals, 11th Circuit – Habeas Appeal

USCA# 10-13095


06/29/10          Appealfiled

11/01/10          COAdenied


Circuit Court – 3.851 Motion

CC# 87-1347


11/29/10          Motionfiled



Factors Contributing to the Delay in Imposition ofSentence:


The 3.850 Motion was pending for nine years (05/01/92 –8/10/01). 


The 3.850 Motion Appeal was pending for four years and theHabeas Petition was pending for three years.  During the appeal, the issueof DNA testing arose. On 03/21/03, the FSC remanded the case to the CircuitCourt to determine if evidence existed for DNA testing.  The Circuit Courtheld an evidentiary hearing on 10/03/03, and on 02/09/04, ruled that evidenceexisted for DNA testing, but the evidence would be completely destroyed by thetesting.  As a result, the court denied DNA testing on the evidence. Duckett appealed the Circuit Court’s decision to theFSC. 


Case Information:


On 07/05/88, Duckett filed aDirect Appeal with the Florida Supreme Court, citing the following trial courterrors:  circumstantial evidence did not exclude all reasonable hypothesesof innocence, admitting testimony of the three girls, qualifying a statewitness as an expert in hair analysis, and imposition of the deathpenalty.  The FSC affirmed the convictions and sentences on 09/06/90.


On 05/01/92, Duckett filed a 3.850Motion with the circuit court that was amended on 06/12/92 and 11/14/94 anddenied on 08/10/01. 


On 09/28/01, Duckett filed a 3.850Motion Appeal with the Florida Supreme Court, raising the following issues:ineffective assistance of counsel; failing to present exculpatory evidence,including DNA evidence; prosecutorial misconduct; applying vague aggravatingcircumstances; and improper jury instructions.  On 10/06/05, the FSCaffirmed the denial of the motion.    


On 06/07/02, Duckett filed aPetition for Writ of Habeas Corpus with the Florida Supreme Court, raising thefollowing issues: ineffective assistance of counsel and Ring issues.  On10/06/05, the FSC denied the petition. 


On 05/22/06, a Writ of Certiorari was filed in the UnitedStates Supreme Court, which was denied on 10/02/06.


On 01/08/07, Duckett filed a Writof Habeas Corpus in the United States District Court, Middle District, whichwas denied on 03/25/10. On 07/12/10, Duckett filed anApplication for a Certificate of Appealablity, whichwas denied on 08/23/10.


On 06/29/10, Duckett filed aHabeas Appeal in the United States Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit. Duckett’s Certificate of Appealabilitywas denied on 11/01/10.


On 11/29/10, Duckett filed asuccessive 3.851 Motion in the Circuit Court. That motion is pending.


Institutional Adjustment:




DATE     DAYS                    VIOLATION                                      LOCATION      


01/29/97   180                     REF. SUB. ABUSETEST                   UNION C. I.        

07/03/01    30                      POSS OF CONTRABAND            FLORIDA STATE PRISON

01/08/02    24                      FIGHTING                                           FLORIDA STATE PRISON

11/01/04    30                      POSS OFCONTRABAND            FLORIDA STATE PRISON

04/15/05    30                      POSS OFCONTRABAND            FLORIDA STATE PRISON

05/25/05    90                      ATTEMPT TOCONSPIRE           FLORIDA STATE PRISON



Report Date:   11/09/01          JFL

Approved:       12/05/01          JFL

Updated:         01/25/11          JJK