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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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
NelsonJoshua 989102RegistryCase Summary

Last Action

DateCourtCase NumberLast Action
3/26/2010FSC10-5403.850 Appeal filed
9/10/2010FSC10-540Initial brief filed
12/13/2010FSC10-540Answer brief filed
2/14/2011FSC10-540Reply brief filed
5/4/2011FSC10-540Oral argument held
1/5/2001CC95009113.850 Motion filed
1/26/2009CC9500911Amended Motion filed
6/15/2009CC9500911Second Amended Motion filed
6/19/2009CC9500911SC held
7/14/2009CC9500911Answer to second amended motion filed
8/20/2009CC9500911Huffington Hearing held
10/29/2009CC9500911Evidentiary Hearing held
3/5/2010CC9500911Motion denied

Current Attorney

Last NameFirst NameCityAddressZipPhoneEMail
Harrison IIIBayaMonticello, FL310 N. Jefferson St.32344-2057850/997-8469Email


Last NameCase NumberJudgeCountyCCRCOrder DateContract Date
Harrison III95-911CFAGeraldLeeSouth03/04/0903/31/09

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 change and maynot reflect the latest status of an inmate’s case and should not be relied uponfor statistical or legal purposes.


NELSON, Joshua David (W/M)

DC#    989102

DOB:  01/16/77


Twentieth Judicial Circuit, Lee County Case# 95-911 CFA

Sentencing Judge:  The Honorable William J. Nelson

Trial Attorney:  Harold M. Stevens – Private

Attorney, Direct Appeal:  Paul C. Helm – AssistantPublic Defender

Attorney, Collateral Appeals:  Baya Harrison, III –Registry


Date of Offense:  03/10/95

Date of Sentence:  11/27/96


Circumstances of the Offense:


Joshua Nelson and Keith Brennan constructed a plan to murderTommy Owens, a peer, and steal his vehicle in order to leave the city of CapeCoral.  With the knowledge that Owens kept a baseball bat in his car,Nelson and Brennan lured Owens to a remote street under false pretenses on theevening of 03/10/95.  After convincing Owens to exit his car, Nelsonstruck Owens with the baseball bat.  Owens fell to the ground after anumber of blows and then had his arms and legs tied by Nelson andBrennan.  Even though Owens pled for his life and offered to forfeit hiscar, Nelson and Brennan conferred and decided that, in order to avoid capture,they should kill Owens.  Brennan used a box cutter and tried to sliceOwens’ throat.  Owens, however, was still conscious when the stabbingbegan, and he begged Nelson to hit him with the baseball bat so as to renderhim unconscious before Brennan continued the stabbing.  His request wasgranted, and Brennan continued the stabbing.  Nelson and Brennan continuedto strike Owens with the bat a number of times before dragging his body tonearby bushes.  Owens later died.


Nelson and Brennan picked up Tina and Misty Porth in Owens’car and the four left the city.  They left the state and drove to New Jerseyafter stopping in Daytona.  Nelson and Brennan informed Tina and Mistyover the course of the trip that they had murdered Owens.  Tina and Mistyboth testified at the trial.


After law enforcement officers apprehended Nelson andBrennan in New Jersey, Nelson gave both a video- and audio-tapedconfession.  Nelson gave his detailed account of the murder both at theplace of the bat’s discovery and at the crime scene, in his confession. The taped video confession was played at the trial for the jury. A FloridaDepartment of Law Enforcement analyst gave testimony that a match to Owens DNAwas found on Nelson’s blood stained shoes, the box cutter, and the pair ofunderwear wrapped around the box cutter.    


Codefendant Information:


Keith Michael Brennan (DC# 989103)


Brennan and Nelson were tried together.  The date ofthe offense, 03/10/95, was eight days prior to Brennan’s eighteenth birthday.On 03/20/97, he was sentenced to life for first-degree premeditated murder and13 years, 4 months for robbery with a deadly weapon (CC# 95-911).


Trial Summary:


04/04/95         Indicted as follows:

CountI:           First-DegreeMurder

CountII:         Robbery with a DeadlyWeapon

11/07/96         Jury returned guilty verdicts on all counts of the indictment

11/07/96         Jury recommended death by a vote of 12-0

11/27/96         Sentenced as follows:

CountI:           First-DegreeMurder – Death    

CountII:         Robbery with a Deadly Weapon– 15 years, 9 months


Appeal Summary:


Florida Supreme Court – Direct Appeal

FSC# 89,540

733 So. 2d 516


12/16/96         Appeal filed

05/27/99         FSC affirmed conviction and death sentence

09/30/99         Rehearing denied

11/01/99         Mandate issued


United States Supreme Court – Petition for Writ ofCertiorari

USSC# 99-7076

528 U.S. 1123; 120 S. Ct. 950; 145 L. Ed. 2d 825


11/18/99         Petition filed

01/18/00         Petition denied

State Circuit Court – 3.850 Motion

CC# 95-911


01/05/01          Motion filed

01/26/09          Amended Motion filed

06/15/09          Second Amended Motion filed

10/29/09          Evidentiary Hearing held

03/05/10          Motion denied


Florida Supreme Court – 3.850 Appeal

FSC# 10-540



03/26/10          Appeal filed



Factors Contributing to the Delay in Execution ofSentence:


It took the Florida Supreme Court nearly three years todecide on Nelson’s Direct Appeal.  The 3.850 Motion has been pending inthe Circuit Court for nine years due to outstanding public records requests,pending motions, and illegibility of archival records, and issues with courtstaffing. 


Case Information:


Nelson filed a direct appeal to the Florida Supreme Court on12/16/96.  Some of the issues raised included: (1) the trial court erredby failing to properly determine the admissibility of testimony by the State’sDNA expert Darren Esposito; (2) the trial court violated Nelson’s right toconfrontation by admitting evidence of his non-testifying codefendant’sout-of-court statement. The Court found all of these claims either withoutmerit or harmless and affirmed the conviction and sentence of death on05/27/99.


Nelson filed a petition for Writ of Certiorari to the UnitedStates Supreme Court on 11/18/99, which was denied on 01/18/00.


Nelson filed a 3.850 Motion to the Circuit Court on01/05/01, as well as two amended motions on 01/26/09 and 06/15/09. Anevidentiary hearing was held on 10/29/09. This motion was denied on03/05/10. 


On 03/26/10, Nelson filed a 3.850 Appeal in the FloridaSupreme Court. This appeal is currently pending.


Institutional Adjustment:


DATE            DAYS          VIOLATION                            LOCATION      

--------           ----              ----------------------------        -------------------

04/20/02         30                FAILURE TOCOMPLY           UNION C. I.

08/18/05         30                DISOBEYREGULATIONS      UNION C.I.




Report Date:  10/05/01          CC

Approved:      10/25/01         WS

Updated:        04/12/10         EMJ