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Last NameFirst NamePictureDC NumberAgencyCase Summary
WheelerJason 991988CCRC-MCase Summary

Last Action

DateCourtCase NumberLast Action
7/29/2010CC05-377Status conf. scheduled
9/14/2010CC05-3773.851 Motion filed
10/15/2010CC05-377Status conf. held
11/12/2010CC05-377State's response to 3.851 Motion
2/4/2011CC05-3773.851 Motion amended on claim IV
2/11/2011CC05-377Huff Hearing held
2/11/2011CC05-377State's response to amended motion
2/16/2011CC05-377Evidentiary Hearing scheduled 7/25-28/11
11/27/2006FSC06-2323Direct Appeal filed
10/7/2008FSC06-2323Oral Arguments held
1/29/2009FSC06-2323Disposition affirmed, Appeal denied
2/13/2009FSC06-2323Motion for Rehearing filed
2/20/2009FSC06-2323State's Response to Motion for Rehearing filed
2/27/2009FSC06-2323Rehearing denied
3/16/2009FSC06-2323Mandate issued
5/28/2009USSC08-11026Petition for Writ of Certiorari filed
10/5/2009USSC08-11026Petition denied

Current Attorney


Last Updated

2008-01-09 11:43:13.0

Case Summary
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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. 


WHEELER, Jason (W/M)

DC# 991988

DOB: 05/25/75


5th Judicial Circuit, Lake County Case # 05-00377

Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Michael T. Johnson

Attorney, Trial: William Grossenbacher – Public Defender’sOffice

Attorney, Direct Appeal: James R. Wulchak – PublicDefender’s Office, Appellate Division

Attorney, Collateral Appeals: Maria Perinetti – CCRC-M


Date of Offense: 02/09/05

Date of Sentence: 10/23/06


Circumstances of Offense:


Jason Wheeler was convicted of the 01/09/05 murder of DeputyWayne Koester and the contemporaneous attempted first-degree murder and batterywith a firearm of deputies Thomas McKane and William Crotty.


On the morning of 01/09/05, Jason Wheeler’s then-girlfriend,Sara Heckerman, placed a 911 call from the Lake County home the coupleshared.  Deputies Wayne Koester, William Crotty, and Thomas McKaneresponded to the 911 call in full uniform, each driving a marked patrolcar.  Upon arrival, Deputy Crotty observed Heckerman with facial bruisingand a head wound and made the decision to arrest Wheeler.  The deputiesthen obtained Heckerman’s consent to search the premises.  When deputiesMcKane and Koester began to mark the crime scene with tape, Wheeler appearedwith a shotgun and began shooting at the two deputies.  Deputy Crotty tookcover at the rear end of one of the patrol cars and Wheeler turned and openedfire in that direction as well.  Deputy Crotty then observed DeputyKoester running up the driveway, bleeding from wounds to his face and beingchased by Wheeler who was aiming the shotgun at Deputy Koester’s back. Wheeler then turned to Deputy Crotty and fired, wounding him in the leg. When Deputy Crotty returned fire, Wheeler ran into the woods adjacent to thecrime scene.  Wheeler soon returned and continued to shoot at DeputyCrotty while yelling threats to kill him.  When Wheeler ran back into thewoods a second time, Deputy Crotty fired again at Wheeler, injuring him in thebuttocks.  Deputy McKane was also engaged in the gun battle with Wheeler,who returned fire and injured Deputy McKane’s leg, hand, arm, shoulder, andlip.


With Wheeler hiding in the woods, the search continued forseveral hours with the use of a search helicopter and tracking dogs. Another officer eventually found Wheeler lying on the ground in a wooded areanear a lake.  Upon being found, Wheeler stood and screamed several timesfor the officer to kill him.  When Wheeler appeared to reach for a weapon,the officer fired shots at Wheeler, resulting in his permanent paralysis. Wheeler was found with speaker wire wrapped around his neck and reported toanother officer that he had tried unsuccessfully to kill himself during thesearch.


Deputy Koester died as a result of a shotgun blast hereceived from Wheeler.  Koester had sustained nonfatal injuries to hisarms, hand, neck, buttocks, and legs caused by birdshot pellets.  Koesterhad also sustained a nonfatal injury to his armpit, chest, and lungs caused bybuckshot pellets.  The last and fatal injury was a birdshot pellet injuryto the head, during which pellets entered Koester’s left eye and lodged in hisbrain.


Additional Information:


Wheeler later told adetention center guard, Richard Brown, that when he saw the deputies arrangingcrime scene tape on his property, he decided that he only had two options: torun or to “go out in a blaze of glory.” [1]


Prior Incarceration History in the State of Florida:




Trial Summary:


02/23/05          Indictedas follows:

                                    CountI:           First-Degree Murder (Wayne Koester)

                                    CountII:         Attempted First-Degree Murder

                                    CountIII:        Attempted First-Degree Murder

                                    CountIV:        Battery of a Law Enforcement Officer

                                    CountV:         Battery of a Law Enforcement Officer

05/19/06          Juryreturned guilty verdicts on all counts of the indictment

05/24/06          Juryrecommended death by a vote of 10-2

10/23/06          Sentencedas follows:

                                    CountI:           First-Degree Murder (Wayne Koester) – Death

                                    CountII:         Attempted First-Degree Murder – Life in Prison

                                    CountIII:        Attempted First-Degree Murder – Life in Prison

                                    CountIV:        Battery of a Law Enforcement Officer – Life in Prison

                                    CountV:         Battery of a Law Enforcement Officer – Life in Prison


Appeal Summary:


Florida Supreme Court – Direct Appeal

FSC# 06-2323

4So.3d 599


11/27/06         Appeal filed

10/07/08         Oral Arguments held

01/29/09         Appeal denied

02/13/09         Motion for Rehearing filed

03/16/09         Mandate issued


United States Supreme Court – Petition for Writ ofCertiorari

USSC# 08-11026

130 S.Ct. 178


05/28/09          Petitionfiled.

10/05/09          Petitiondenied.


State Circuit Court – 3.851 Motion

CC 05-377



09/14/10          3.851Motion filed

02/04/11          Amended Motion on claim IV filed



Factors Contributing to the Delay in Imposition ofSentence:


There have been no unduedelays at this time.


Case Information:


On 11/27/06, Wheelerfiled a Direct Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court citing the following issues:(1) the trial court reversibly erred in allowing victim-impact evidence tobecome such a feature that it denied due process, fundamental fairness, and areliable jury recommendation; (2) the prosecution used improper andinflammatory remarks that tainted the jury trial and rendered the entireproceeding fundamentally unfair; (3) the trial court erred in denying thedefendant’s request for special jury instruction on heat of passion, therebydepriving the defendant of his right to due process of law; (4) by placing ahigher burden of persuasion on the defense to prove that life imprisonmentshould be imposed than the burden that is placed on the state to prove thatcapital punishment should be imposed, fundamental fairness is violated and dueprocess is denied; and, (5) Florida’s death-penalty scheme is unconstitutionalunder Ring v. Arizona.  Oral Arguments were held on 10/07/08. On 01/29/09, the Florida Supreme Court affirmed Wheeler’s convictions andsentences.  On 02/13/09, Wheeler filed a Motion for Rehearing, which wasdenied on 02/27/09.  On 03/16/09, the Florida Supreme Court issued amandate that proceedings be held in accordance with their opinion rendered on01/29/09.


On 5/28/09, Wheeler fileda Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court. Thispetition was denied on 10/05/09.


On 9/14/10, Wheeler fileda 3.851 Motion in the circuit court.  On 02/04/11, Wheeler filed an amendmenton claim IV to his 3.851 Motion.



Institutional Adjustment:


Information not availableat this time.




Report Date:   01/30/09          AEH

Approved:       02/24/09          RM

Updated:         02/16/11          MJH

[1] Wheeler v. State, No. 06,2323 (Fla.Jan. 29, 2009).