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Last NameFirst NamePictureDC NumberAgencyCase Summary
McDonaldMeryl 180399CCRC-MCase Summary

Last Action

DateCourtCase NumberLast Action
12/22/2008USDC-M07-cv-00564 Reply filed
4/2/2007USDC-M07-cv-00564Habeas petition filed
9/29/2008USDC-M07-cv-00564Response brief filed
11/14/2008USDC-M07-cv-00564Reply brief filed
12/5/2008USDC-M07-cv-00564Response to Reply filed
1/11/2008FSC08-61Habeas petition filed
8/26/2008FSC08-61Habeas denied

Current Attorney


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


MCDONALD, Meryl Stanley (B/M)

DC#    180399

DOB:  08/15/46


Sixth Judicial Circuit, Pinellas County, Case# 94-02958

Sentencing Judge:  The Honorable Susan F. Schaeffer

Attorneys, Trial:  Michael Schwartzberg & RichardN. Watts – Private

Attorney, Direct Appeal:  Richard N. Watts – Private

Attorneys, Collateral Appeals:  Peter J. Cannon &Daphney E. Gaylord – CCRC-M


Date of Offense:  01/25/94

Date of Sentence:  11/16/95


Circumstances of the Offense:


Denise Davidson and her fiancé, Leonardo Cisnero, hiredRobert Gordon and Meryl McDonald, to kill Ms. Davidson’s estranged husband, Dr.Louis Davidson. 


Early on the morning of 01/25/94, McDonald and Gordon waitedin the parking lot of the apartment complex where Dr. Davidson lived.  Thetwo were driven by Susan Shore. Gordon met with Dr. Davidson and the two walkedto Davidson’s apartment.  Dr. Davidson’s body was discovered later thatday by his fiancée.  His body was blindfolded, bound, gagged, andhog-tied, lying face down in a bathtub full of bloody water.  Theapartment had been ransacked, and Davidson’s watch, camera, and money clip weremissing, although $19,300 in cash and some credit cards remained. 


The medical examiner testified that Davidson had bruises onhis face and shoulders, three broken ribs, and multiple lacerations on the backof his scalp, caused by a blunt object.  The cause of Davidson’s death wasdrowning. 


Money transfers from Denise Davidson to McDonald, as well asphone records and physical evidence recovered from the hotel where Gordon andMcDonald were staying during the time of the murder, implicated McDonald in themurder scheme.

Codefendant Information:


Robert Roy Gordon (DC# 123911)

For his involvement in the murder, Gordon was tried withMcDonald and was found guilty of first-degree murder.  Gordon was alsosentenced to death (CC# 94-2958).


Denise Ann Davidson (DC# 153691)

Davidson was found guilty of first-degree murder in aseparate trial.  She was sentenced to life in prison without the possibilityof parole for 25 years (CC# 94-2958).


Susan Shore

Shore agreed to testify for the State, and as a result, hercharges were reduced to Accessory After the Fact.  She was sentenced toprobation.


Leonardo Cisneros

Cisneros remains a fugitive.


Trial Summary:


04/27/94         Indicted as follows:

                                   Count I:          First-Degree Murder

11/22/94         Defendant pled not guilty

06/15/95         Jury returned guilty verdicts on all counts of the indictment

06/16/95         Jury recommended death by a vote of 9-3

11/16/95         Sentenced as follows:

                                   Count I:          First-Degree Murder – Death


Appeal Summary:


Florida State Supreme Court – Direct Appeal

FSC# 87,059

743 So. 2d 501


12/22/95         Appeal filed

07/01/99         FSC affirmed the conviction and sentence

09/17/99         Rehearing denied

10/18/99         Mandate issued


State Circuit Court – 3.850 Motion

CC# 94-02958


12/15/00         Motion filed

02/10/03         Motion denied


Florida Supreme Court – 3.850 Appeal

FSC# 03-648

952 So.2d 484


03/31/03         Appeal filed

11/02/06         The FSC affirmed the lower court’s denial of McDonald’s 3.850 Motion

03/12/07         Motion for Rehearing denied

03/28/07         Mandate issued


Florida Supreme Court – Petition for Writ HabeasCorpus

FSC# 04-708

952 So.2d 484


04/30/04         Petition filed

11/02/06         Petition denied

03/12/07         Motion for Rehearing denied

03/28/07         Mandate issued


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

USDC# 07-00564



04/02/07         Petition filed


Florida Supreme Court – Petition for Writ HabeasCorpus

FSC# 08-61

991So.2d 387


01/11/08         Petition filed

08/26/08         Petition denied


Factors Contributing to the Delay in the Imposition ofthe Sentence:


The Direct Appeal was pending for four years in the FloridaSupreme Court.


Case Information:


McDonald filed a Direct Appeal to the Florida Supreme Courton 12/22/95. On 04/14/97, the Florida Supreme Court granted a pro se motion todismiss Richard Sanders as McDonald’s attorney. On 05/27/97, the initialappellant’s brief was struck and on 06/18/97 Richard N. Watts became McDonald’sattorney. McDonald raised eight issues on appeal. Many of these issues wereparallel to the issues raised by Gordon on his appeal, specifically denyingGordon’s motion to strike the venire; denying motion for judgment of acquittalat the close of evidence; denying request for a separate penalty phase fromthat of his co-defendant and a new penalty phase jury; disproportionalsentencing; and improper finding of the cold, calculated, and premeditated andheinous, atrocious, or cruel aggravating factors. Due to the fact that theevidence against McDonald was synonymous to the evidence against Gordon, theFlorida Supreme Court rejected them on the same basis. The Florida SupremeCourt found two of the issues not cognizant on appeal and no error on theremaining issues; therefore, the Court affirmed McDonald’s conviction andsentence on 07/01/99. The rehearing was denied on 09/17/99 and the mandate wasissued on 10/18/99.


McDonald filed a 3.850 Motion to the Circuit Court on12/15/00. The motion was denied on 02/10/04.


McDonald then filed a 3.850 Appeal to the Florida SupremeCourt on 03/31/03.  McDonald’s CCRC counsel raised several claims onappeal, which were not adequately presented because McDonald failed to raisethem when he was allowed to represent himself during the post-convictionproceedings.  The claims were:  (1) the Faretta inquiry, (2) Bradyand Giglio claims, and (3) ineffective assistance of counsel.  The Courtdenied all claims and concluded that, since the lower court properly allowedMcDonald to represent himself, these claims may not be raised for the firsttime on appeal.  On 11/02/06, the Court affirmed the lower court’s denialof McDonald’s 3.850 Motion.  The Motion for Rehearing was denied on03/12/07 and the mandate was issued on 03/28/07. 


McDonald also filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus tothe Florida Supreme Court on 04/30/04.  McDonald claimed that he isentitled to relief because:  (1) the United States Supreme Court decidedRing, and (2) the trial court conducted an inadequate inquiry underFaretta.  The Court decided that, since Ring was decided after McDonald’sconvictions became final, the Ring claim is inapplicable to this case. The claim raises no new issues and is therefore without merit.  For theFaretta inquiry, the Court stated that habeas petitions cannot be used as ameans to seek a second appeal or to litigate issues that could have been orwere raised in a post-conviction appeal.  Thus, the Faretta claim wasprocedurally barred.  On 11/02/06, the Court denied McDonald’s Petitionfor Writ of Habeas Corpus.  The Motion for Rehearing was denied on03/12/07 and the mandate was issued on 03/28/07.


On 04/02/07, McDonald filed a Petition for Writ of HabeasCorpus to the United States District Court, Middle District.  The case iscurrently pending.


McDonald filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus to theFlorida Supreme Court on 01/11/08, which was denied on 08/26/08.


Institutional Adjustment:


DATE            DAYS            VIOLATION                        LOCATION     

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

04/27/00         0                     MAIL VIOLATIONS                       UNION C. I.       




Report Date:  01/28/02          NMP

Approved:      02/06/02          WS

Updated:        11/25/08          AEH