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
LawrenceGary 039763Registry; FederalCase Summary

Last Action

DateCourtCase NumberLast Action
10/31/2006USSC05-8820Oral argument

Current Attorney

Last NameFirst NameCityAddressZipPhoneEMail


Last NameCase NumberJudgeCountyCCRCOrder DateContract Date
 94-397RasmussenSanta RosaNorth  

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. 



DC#    039763

DOB:  06/29/57


First Judicial Circuit, Santa Rosa County, Case# 94-397-CFA

Sentencing Judge, Trial:  The Honorable Paul A.Rasmussen

Attorney, Trial:  John Miller – Private

Attorney, Direct Appeal:  Steven L. Seliger – SpecialPublic Defender

Attorney, Collateral Appeals:  Mary Catherine Bonner –Federal; TBA – Registry  


Date of Offense: 07/28/94

Date of Sentence: 05/05/95


Circumstances of the Offense:


Brenda and Gary Lawrence separated soon after they weremarried.  Michael Finken moved in with Brenda and her two daughters,Kimberley and Stephanie Pitts, as well as Rachel Matin, Stephanie’sfriend.  On 07/28/94, the day of the murder, Gary and Michael drank a beerat a friend’s house after driving Brenda to work.  After Brenda got offwork, Gary and Michael picked her up and took her back to their friend’s houseso they could drink more beer.  Upon returning to Brenda’s apartment, Garygot into an argument with Michael and hit him when he discovered that Michaeland Brenda had been sleeping together.  Gary and Michael seemed to resolvetheir dispute, and Michael went to sleep on the couch.  Soon after Brendaand Gary spoke, Brenda went around the house gathering weapons, which includeda pipe and a baseball bat.  Brenda and Gary told Rachel and Kimberly thatthey were “going to knock off Mike.”  Gary also told Kimberley to “stayinside your bedroom no matter what you hear.”


While in their bedroom, Rachel and Kimberly said that theyheard a pounding sound.  Rachel said that she heard the victim yell, “Stopit, if you stop, I’ll leave.”  She said that the victim made thisstatement several times.  Kimberly stated that the victim also said,“Please don’t hit me, I’m already bleeding.”  Once the pounding noiseceased, the girls were required to help clean up around the victim.  Attrial, both girls described the mutilation of the victim’s face.  Evenafter the beatings, the victim was still alive.  Kimberly said she saw hermother, Brenda, coming out of the kitchen with something that looked like adagger.  Then, although Kimberly did not know what her mother had in herhand at the time, she witnessed her mother make a stabbing motion towards thevictim. 


Brenda then asked that the girls go enlist the help of ChrisWetherbee.  When Chris entered the apartment, he saw the victim’s crushedskull, indistinguishable face, and a mop handle shoved down the victim’sthroat.  When Chris asked Gary what was going on, Gary responded bykicking the victim and saying, “This is what’s going on.”  When the mophandle was removed from the victim’s throat, Chris heard three or four raggedbreaths come from the victim before the victim stopped breathing anddied.  Gary told Chris that he had beaten the victim with a baseball batafter having already beaten him with a pipe until it bent.


Gary and Brenda took a small amount of money from thevictim’s pockets.  They then wrapped the body in a shower curtain beforeputting it in the victim’s car.  Gary drove the vehicle to an isolatedarea and set the body on fire.  When Gary returned to the apartment, heand Brenda danced.


Gary was arrested later that same day while he was drivingthe victim’s car.  Gary confessed to the murder stating that he had beatenthe victim because Brenda and the victim had been sleeping together.  Themedical examiner testified at trial that the victim’s death was caused by blunttrauma and possible asphyxia.  He also stated that the victim was stillalive when the mop handle was forced into his throat.  The victim had avery high blood alcohol level, and it was possible that one or more of theblows to his head could have caused a loss of consciousness.


Codefendant Information:


Brenda Lawrence (DC# 975279)


B. Lawrence was convicted and sentenced for the followingoffenses (CC# 94-396):

           Count I:           First-Degree Murder – Life sentence

           Count II:           Conspiracyto Commit Murder – 1 year 10 months

           Count III:         Grand Theft Auto – 1year 10 months

Prior Incarceration History in the State of Florida:


Prior Prison History: (Note: Data reflected covers periods of incarceration with the Florida Dept. of Corrections since January of 1983)

Offense Date


Sentence Date


Case No.

Prison Sentence Length





$300 LESS &20,000




15Y 0M 0D








1Y 0M 0D








5Y 0M 0D




GRAND THEFT,$300 LESS &20,000




5Y 0M 0D








5Y 0M 0D




GRAND THEFT,$300 LESS &20,000




5Y 0M 0D




Trial Summary:


08/24/94         Indicted with the following offenses:

CountI:           First-DegreeMurder

CountII:         Conspiracy to Commit Murder

CountIII:        Petty Theft

CountIV:        Grand Theft Auto

03/16/95         Defendant found guilty on all counts

03/17/95         Jury recommended death by a vote of 9-3

05/05/95         Defendant was sentenced as follows:

CountI:           First-DegreeMurder – Death

CountII:         Conspiracy to Commit Murder– 5 years

CountIII:        Petty Theft – Time served

Count IV:       Grand Theft Auto – 5 years  


Appeal Summary:


Florida Supreme Court – Direct Appeal

FSC# 85,725

698 So. 2d 1219


05/19/95         Appeal filed

08/28/97         Conviction and sentence affirmed

10/02/97         Mandate issued


United States Supreme Court – Petition for Writ ofCertiorari

USSC# 97-6787 

522 U.S. 1080; 118 S. Ct. 863; 139 L. Ed. 2d 761


11/17/97         Petition filed

01/20/98         Petition denied


State Circuit Court – 3.850 Motion

CC# 94-397-CFA


01/19/99         Motion filed

10/11/00         Motion denied


Florida Supreme Court – 3.850 Appeal

FSC# 00-2290

831 So. 2d 121


10/23/00         Appeal filed

10/17/02         FSC affirmed the trial court’s denial of the 3.850 motion

11/18/02         Mandate issued


Florida Supreme Court – Petition for Writ of HabeasCorpus

FSC# 01-674

831 So. 2d 121


03/28/01         Petition filed

10/17/02         Petition denied

11/18/02         Mandate issued


United States Supreme Court – Petition for Writ of Certiorari

USSC# 02-8428

538 U.S. 926; 123 S. Ct. 1575


01/09/03         Petition filed

01/21/03         Certiorari filed in FSC

03/24/03         Petition denied


United States District Court, Northern District –Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus

USDC# 03-97


03/11/03         Petition filed

09/20/04         Petition dismissed


United States Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit – HabeasAppeal

USCA# 04-15435

421 F.3d 1221


10/15/04         Appeal filed

08/26/05         USCA affirmed USDC’s order dismissing Habeas Petition as untimely


United States Supreme Court – Petition for Writ ofCertiorari

USSC# 05-8820

126 S. Ct. 1625


01/23/06         Petition filed

03/27/06         Petition granted

10/31/06         Oral argument held

02/20/07         The Court affirmed the FSC’s denial of Lawrence’s Petition for Writ of HabeasCorpus


Factors Contributing to the Delay in Imposition ofSentence:


There have been no undue delays in this case.


Case Information:


Lawrence filed a Direct Appeal to the Florida Supreme Courton 05/19/95.  Issues that were raised on appeal included whether the trialcourt erred in finding the cold, calculated, and premeditated aggravator, andwhether Lawrence’s death sentence was disproportionate to other death penaltycases.  The Court found the issues either harmless or without merit. The Court affirmed his convictions and death sentence on 08/28/97.


Lawrence filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari to theUnited States Supreme Court on 11/17/97, which was denied on 01/20/98.


Lawrence filed a 3.850 Motion to the Circuit Court on01/19/99, which was denied on 10/11/00.


Lawrence filed a 3.850 Appeal to the Florida Supreme Courton 10/23/00.  Issues that were raised on appeal included 13 claims ofineffective assistance of appellate counsel.  The Court found all of theclaims either harmless or without merit and affirmed the Circuit Court’s denialof the 3.850 on 10/17/02.


A Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus was filed to theFlorida Supreme Court on 03/28/01. Issues that were raised on appeal included13 claims of ineffective assistance of appellate counsel.  The Court foundall of the claims either harmless or without merit and denied the petition on10/17/02.


On 01/09/03, Lawrence filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorarito the United States Supreme Court.  It was filed in the Florida SupremeCourt on 01/21/03 and was eventually denied on 03/24/03.


On 03/11/03, a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus was filedto the United States District Court, Northern District.  The petition wasdismissed on 09/20/04.


On 10/15/04, Lawrence filed a Habeas Appeal to the UnitedStates Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit.  The Court affirmed the UnitedStates District Court’s order dismissing Lawrence’s Habeas Petition asuntimely.


On 01/23/06, Lawrence filed a Petition for Writ ofCertiorari to the United States Supreme Court, which was granted on03/27/06.  The oral argument was held on 10/31/06.  On 02/20/07, theCourt affirmed the Florida Supreme Court’s denial of Lawrence’s Petition forWrit of Habeas Corpus.




ReportDate:              12/17/02          CC

ApprovalDate:          01/02/03          WS

Updated:                    03/26/09          AEH