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Last NameFirst NamePictureDC NumberAgencyCase Summary
PettitSamuel 082167CCRC-MCase Summary

Last Action

DateCourtCase NumberLast Action

Current Attorney


Last Updated

2008-01-09 11:43:13.0

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PETTIT, Samuel Andrew (W/M)

DC# 082167               

DOB:  01/26/62            


Twentieth Judicial Circuit, Charlotte County, Case# 88-421CF

Sentencing Judge:  The Honorable Elmer O. Friday

Attorney, Trial:  Dennis J. Rehak – Private  

Attorney, Direct Appeal:  Gregory P. Burns – Private

Attorneys, Collateral Appeals:  William Jennings & RobertT. Strain – CCRC-M



Date of Offense:  08/17/88

Date of Sentence:  10/13/89



Circumstances of Offense:


Samuel Pettit was convicted and sentenced to death for the 08/17/88 murder of Norman Langston.


On 08/17/88, Pettit approached Kathleen Finnegan and NormanLangston in a parking lot and, using a handgun he had got from his cousin, heforced them into Langston’s car.  He ordered Langston to drive and directed himto an open area near a creek.  While they were driving, Pettit forced Finneganand Langston to give him their jewelry and money.  Once they reached the creek,Pettit shot them four times and left.  Finnegan was wounded, but managed toseek help and survived.  Langston died from two gunshot wounds to the head.


After the incident, Pettit’s cousin went to the police withFinnegan’s watch and earrings and told them that Pettit had confessed the crimesto him.  Pettit had also confessed the incident to three other people.


Police arrested Pettit on 08/19/88, while he was sleeping on a bench.  They confiscated the gun used in the crimes from his pocket.  Hewas arrested for carrying a concealed weapon and was later indicted for thecrimes committed on 08/17/88.








Trial Summary:


09/06/88          Indictedas follows:

                                    CountI:            First-Degree Murder

                                    CountII:           Attempted First-Degree Murder

                                    CountIII:         Kidnapping

                                    CountIV:         Kidnapping

                                    CountV:          Robbery

                                    CountVI:         Robbery

08/89               Courtgranted counsel’s motion to withdraw and accepted Pettit’s plea of                                  guiltyto all the above counts.

10/13/89          Sentencedas follows:

                                    CountI:            First-Degree Murder – Death

                                    CountII:           Attempted First-Degree Murder – Life

                                    CountIII:         Kidnapping – Life

                                    CountIV:         Kidnapping – Life

                                    CountV:          Robbery – Life

                                    CountVI:         Robbery – Life



Additional Information:


The trial court madespecial notes stating that Pettit never cooperated with the assigned counsel.  Pettitinsisted on pleading guilty to the charges against him and continuously refusedhis counsel’s advice.  Two neurologists diagnosed Pettit with Huntington’schorea[1],but found that he was competent at the time of the crimes.  Other mental healthexperts testified that he was competent to proceed without counsel.  The trial courtgranted the counsel’s request to withdraw and allowed Pettit to plea guilty toall the charges against him.


On 11/04/05, Pettit diedof natural causes. 



Appeal Summary:


Florida Supreme Court – Direct Appeal

FSC# 75,565

591 So. 2d 618 (1992)


02/20/90          Appealfiled

01/09/92          FSCaffirmed conviction and sentence

02/10/92          Mandateissued


United States Supreme Court – Petition for Writ ofCertiorari

USSC# 91-8212

506 U.S. 836; 113 S. Ct. 110; 121 L. Ed. 2d 68 (1992)


05/08/92          Petitionfiled

10/05/92          Petitiondenied


State Circuit Court – 3.850 Motion

CC# 88-421CF


12/02/93          Motionfiled

10/05/94          Amended

05/19/99          Defendantfound to be incompetent to proceed (Huntington’s Disease)

12/05/05          Furtherproceedings dismissed as moot, due to Pettit’s demise



Factors Contributing to the Delay in Imposition ofSentence:


Pettit’s 3.850 Motion hasbeen continued due to the progression of Huntington’s chorea.



Case Information:


On 02/20/90, Pettit filedhis Direct Appeal to the Florida Supreme Court.  Pettit argued issues brought tothe Florida Supreme Court for review.  First Pettit contended that the lowercourt should not have granted the counsel’s motion for dismissal.  Pettit also claimedthe trial court should not have allowed him to plead guilty and remainunrepresented through the penalty phase.  The Florida Supreme Court found the trialcourt took great care in making sure Pettit understood the consequence of hisguilty plea.  The Florida Supreme Court also found that the court performednumerous evaluations where all mental health experts agreed that Pettit wascompetent to proceed without counsel.  The second issue raised was whether thetrial judge erred in not considering nonstautory mitigatoring circumstances. The Florida Supreme Court found that, by allowing Pettit’s grandfather totestify, the judge did consider nonstatutory mitigating evidence.  Finally,Pettit contended that the trial judge erred in finding that he was under asentence of imprisonment when he committed the crimes.  The Florida SupremeCourt found that, because Pettit was on probation during the time of theoffenses, he was not under a sentence of imprisonment.  They concluded,however, that the error was harmless.  On 01/09/92, the Florida Supreme Court affirmed the conviction and sentence.


On 05/08/92, Pettit fileda Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the United States Supreme Court, which wasdenied on 10/05/92.


On 12/02/93, Pettit fileda 3.850 Motion to the Circuit Court. A motion was granted to hold allproceedings in abeyance, as the defendant was found incompetent to proceed dueto the progression of Huntington’s chorea. On 12/05/05, the Court dismissed further proceedings as moot, due to Pettit’sdemise.  The Court is awaiting receipt of Pettit’s death certificate, at whichtime the matter will be concluded.



Institutional Adjustment:


  DATE     DAYS            VIOLATION                           LOCATION        

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

07/02/90        0          DISOBEYING ORDER                FLORIDA STATE PRISON 

10/05/90      30          DEST. OF ST. PROP.                   FLORIDA STATE PRISON 

11/12/91      30          DISORDERLY CONDUCT         FLORIDA STATE PRISON 

06/15/92        0          DISRESP.TO OFFICIALS           FLORIDA STATE PRISON 

05/18/93        0          DISRESP.TO OFFICIALS           FLORIDA STATE PRISON 

08/01/93        0          DISOBEYING ORDER              UNION C. I.          

04/17/94        0          DEST. OF ST. PROP.                  UNIONC.I.-MED.FAC.  

07/23/96        0          OBSCENEPROFANE ACT        UNION C. I.   



Report Date:     04/09/04          EMC

Approved:        03/13/06          NRC

[1]Huntington'sdisease (HD) results from genetically programmed degeneration of brain cells,called neurons, in certain areas of the brain. This degeneration causesuncontrolled movements, loss of intellectual faculties, and emotionaldisturbance.  At this time, there is no way to stop or reverse the course ofHD.