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.
Home | Commission on Capital Cases



        Paul Beasley Johnson


Sentence Vacated. New Penalty Phase


Sentence Vacated. New Penalty Phase

Stay of Execution

Execution Scheduled for November 4, 2009






Last Action

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Date Court Case Number Last Action
06/27/08 FSC 08-1213 3.850 Appeal
01/30/09 FSC 08-1213 Initial brief
04/29/09 FSC 08-1213 Answer
09/14/09 FSC 08-1213 Reply
10/28/09 FSC 08-1213 Oral Argument
10/28/09 FSC 08-1213 State Response
01/14/10 FSC 08-1213 Sentence Vacated and Remanded for New Penalty Phase
01/29/10 FSC 08-1213 State Motion for Rehearing
02/22/10 FSC 08-1213 Response
09/02/10 FSC 08-1213 State Motion for Rehearing Denied
10/19/09 USDC-M 09-02065 Petition for Habeas Corpus
12/18/09 USDC-M 09-02065 Petition Denied
04/27/07 CC 81-112 3.851 Motion
07/12/07 CC 81-112 Response
09/07/07 CC 81-112 Status Conference
12/04/07 CC 81-112 Evidentiary Hearing
04/09/08 CC 81-112 Motion denied
04/30/08 CC 81-112 Motion for rehearing
05/22/08 CC 81-112 Rehearing denied

Current Attorney

Last Name First Name City Address Zip Phone Email
Backhus Terri L. Tampa, FL 13014 N. Dale Mabry Hwy., Ste. 746 33618-2808 813/269-7604 Email

Cases


Attorney Case Number Judge County CCRC Appt. Order Contract Sign
Backhus CF81-0112A1-XX Wadsworth Alachua Polk North-P 7/9/2004 8/11/2004

Case Summary

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The Commission on Capital Cases updates this information regularly

The Commission on Capital Cases updates this information regularly.  This information, however, is subject to change and may not reflect the latest status of an inmate’s case and should not be relied upon for statistical or legal purposes. 

 

JOHNSON, Paul B. (W/M)

DC#    019513

DOB: 07/08/49

 

Tenth Judicial Circuit, Polk County Case # 81-112

Fifth Judicial Circuit, Lake County Case # 81-733

Change of venue for second trial to Eighth Judicial Circuit, Alachua County

Case # 88-448 (cases were consolidated)

Sentencing Judge, Trial I: The Honorable Randall G. McDonald

Sentencing Judge, Trial II: The Honorable Wayne M. Carlisle (Retired)

Attorney, Trial I: Lawrence Shearer – Assistant Public Defender

Attorneys, Trial II: Lawrence Shearer and Robert Norgard – Assistant Public Defenders

Attorney, First Direct Appeal: W.C. McClain – Assistant Public Defender

Attorney, Second Direct Appeal: Douglas S. Connor – Assistant Public Defender

Attorney, Collateral Appeals: Terri Backhus – Registry

 

Date of Offenses:                               01/09/81

Date of Sentence:                               09/22/81

Date of Sentence (second trial):         04/28/88

 

Circumstances of Offense:

 

Paul Johnson and his wife visited their friends, Shayne and Ricky Carter, on the evening of January 8, 1981.  While at their friends house, they all smoked marijuana and took injections of crystal methedrine.  At trial, Ricky stated that he heard Johnson say he was going to obtain more drugs and that he would possibly steal something or rob someone.  Shayne also testified that Johnson stated he was going to obtain more drug money and that “if he had to shoot someone, he would have to shoot someone.” 

 

Taxicab driver William Evans picked up a fare in Polk County on the night of January 8, 1981.  The cab dispatcher heard a stranger’s voice over the cab’s radio several times after midnight stating that Evans had been knocked out.  That was the last communication that the dispatcher had with the cab, which was found five days later in a citrus grove located about a mile from where Evans’ body was found.  Evans had been shot twice in the head and both his fare money and wallet were missing.  The cab had been set on fire. 

 

At approximately 3:00 a.m. on January 9, 1981, Amy Reid and Darrell Beasley left a restaurant in Lakeland. A man who said that his car would not start approached them in the parking lot.  The man also requested a ride to a friend’s house.  Reid and Beasley complied and drove off with the stranger.  The stranger asked Beasley to stop the car in a remote area so he could relieve himself.  When the stranger returned to the car, he asked Beasley to walk to the back of the car with him.  When Reid looked through the rear-view window, she saw the stranger pointing a gun at Beasley.  Reid locked the doors in the car and drove to a convenience store several miles away where she called the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. 

 

Deputy Allison and Deputy Darrington were the officers who answered Reid’s call.  After the deputies picked Reid up, she directed them to the location where she left Beasley and the stranger.  Concurrently, another deputy, Theron Burnham, reported to dispatch that he had spotted a suspect on the road that Reid last saw Beasley.  When Deputies Allison and Darrington arrived at Burnham’s location, they parked their car so that it faced Burnham’s patrol car.  Burnham’s car had been left running with the lights on, but they did not see Burnham.  A white male came out from a drainage ditch on one side of the road and quickly passed in between the patrol cars.  He fired two shots at Deputies Allison and Darrington and fled across an open field.  The deputies discovered Burnham’s body, which had been shot three times, in the drainage ditch and his service revolver was missing.  Beasley’s body was found later that day with one gunshot wound to the head.  His wallet was missing.   

 

On the following afternoon, Johnson’s wife and the Carters saw a police sketch of the suspect in the newspaper and talked about whether it resembled Johnson.  Johnson later telephoned his wife at the Carters’ home, and she was visibly upset when she hung up the phone.  Ricky spoke to Johnson and asked him if he was responsible for the killing that the newspaper talked about and Johnson replied, “if that’s what it says.”  Ricky and Johnson’s wife went to get Johnson.  Johnson changed into a new shirt before throwing his old shirt, which had been described in the newspaper, out the window.  Upon returning to the Carter residence, Johnson relayed that he struck the officer with his gun when the officer told him to put his hands on the patrol car.  A struggle ensued and Johnson shot the deputy three times. 

 

Paul Johnson was arrested for the murders of Beasley and Burnham on January 10, 1981.  Johnson was charged the following week with taxi cabdriver Evans’ murder.  Reid, Allison, and Darrington identified Johnson.  Additionally, Johnson’s fingerprints were discovered in the taxicab.

 
Trial I Summary:

 

01/23/81          Defendant was indicted for the following:

                                    Count I:           First-Degree Murder

                                    Count II:         First-Degree Murder

                                    Count III:        First-Degree Murder

                                    Count IV:        Robbery

                                    Count V:         Kidnapping

                                    Count VI:        Arson

                                    Count VII:      Robbery

                                    Count VIII:     Attempted First-Degree Murder

                                    Count IX:        Attempted First-Degree Murder

01/30/81          Defendant pled not guilty.

09/22/81          Defendant found guilty on all counts.

09/22/81          Jury recommended death by a majority on all three counts.

09/23/81          Defendant sentenced as follows:

Count I:           First-Degree Murder – Death

                                    Count II:         First-Degree Murder – Death

                                    Count III:        First-Degree Murder – Death

                                    Count IV:        Robbery – Life sentence

                                    Count V:         Kidnapping – 15 years

                                    Count VI:        Arson – 15 years

                                    Count VII:      Robbery – Life sentence

                                    Count VIII:     Attempted First-Degree Murder – 30 years

                                    Count IX:        Attempted First-Degree Murder – 30 years

 

**Polk County Case # 81-112 was transferred to Lake County in order for the case to be tried in consolidation with Lake County Case # 81-733

 

Trial II Summary:

 

04/22/88          Defendant found guilty on all counts (Case # 88-488 CFA)

04/26/88          Jury recommended death by a vote of:

                                    Count I:           8-4

                                    Count II:         9-3

                                    Count III:        9-3

04/28/88          Defendant sentenced as follows:

Count I:           First-Degree Murder – Death

                                    Count II:         First-Degree Murder – Death

                                    Count III:        First-Degree Murder – Death

                                    Count IV:        Robbery – Life sentence

                                    Count V:         Kidnapping – 15 years

                                    Count VI:        Arson – 15 years

                                    Count VII:      Robbery – Life sentence

                                    Count VIII:     Attempted First-Degree Murder – 30 years

                                    Count IX:        Attempted First-Degree Murder – 30 years

 

**Polk County Case # 81-112 and Lake County Case # 81-733 were consolidated and changed into Alachua County Case # 88-488 CFA for a change of venue

 

Appeal Summary:

 

Florida Supreme Court – Direct Appeal

FSC#61,341

438 So. 2d 774

 

10/29/81          Appeal filed.

08/25/83          Conviction and sentence affirmed.

10/26/83          Rehearing denied.

 

United States Supreme Court – Petition for Writ of Certiorari

USSC#83-5924

465 U.S. 1051

 

12/15/83          Petition filed.

02/21/84          Petition denied.

 

Florida Supreme Court – Petition for Habeas Corpus

FSC#68,319

498 So. 2d 938

 

02/17/86          Petition filed.

12/11/86          Petition granted and case remanded for a new trial.

01/09/87          Rehearing denied.

 

United States Supreme Court – Petition for Writ of Certiorari

USSC#86-1398

481 U.S. 1016

 

02/26/87          Petition filed.

04/20/87          Petition denied.

 

Florida Supreme Court – Direct Appeal (from second trial)

FSC#72,694

608 So. 2d 4

 

07/11/88          Appeal filed.

10/01/92          Conviction and sentence affirmed.

12/14/92          Rehearing denied.

01/13/93          Mandate issued.

 

United States Supreme Court – Petition for Writ of Certiorari

USSC#92-8005

508 U.S. 919

 

03/12/93          Petition filed.

05/17/93          Petition denied.

 

Circuit Court, 3.850 Motion

CC#81-112

 

08/01/94          Motion filed.

12/12/94          Motion denied.

 

Florida Supreme Court, 3.850 Appeal

FSC#85,095

661 So. 2d 824

 

02/02/95          Appeal filed.

08/29/95          Appeal dismissed.

 

Circuit Court, 3.850 Motion

CC#81-112

 

05/17/95          Amended Motion filed.

03/20/97          Motion denied.

 

Florida Supreme Court, 3.850 Appeal

FSC#90,743

769 So. 2d 990

 

06/09/97          Appeal filed.

07/13/00          FSC affirmed the circuit court’s denial of the 3.850 Motion.

 

Florida Supreme Court, Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus

FSC#01-2182

837 So.2d 343

 

10/10/01          Petition filed.

09/26/02          Petition denied.

 

Circuit Court – 3.851 Motion

CC#81-112

 

02/07/03          Motion filed.

03/11/05          CC denied Motion.

 

Florida Supreme Court – 3.851 Motion Appeal

FSC# 05-701

933 So.2d 1153

 

04/20/05          Appeal filed

03/17/06          FSC affirmed the denial of the motion

06/13/06          Rehearing denied

 

Circuit Court—3.851 Motion

CC#81-112

 

04/27/07          Motion filed.

04/09/08          Motion denied.

 

Florida Supreme Court – 3.851 Motion Appeal

FSC#08-1213

 

06/27/08          Appeal filed

01/14/10          Appeal Granted.  Sentenced Vacated and Remanded for a New Penalty Phase

01/29/10          Motion for Rehearing filed by State

 

 

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

USDC#09-02065

 

10/19/09          Petition Filed

12/18/09          Petition Denied

 

 

Death Warrant Information:

 

01/16/86          Warrant signed (Bob Graham).

02/17/86          Stay granted (FSC).

10/07/09          Warrant signed (Charlie Crist).

 

Clemency Hearing:

 

11/20/85          Hearing held (denied).

 

Factors Contributing to the Delay in Imposition of Sentence:

 

The two trials and the large number of appeals have contributed to the delay.

 

Case Information:

 

A Direct Appeal was filed with the Florida Supreme Court on 10/29/81.  Issues that were raised on appeal included whether the police employed an unnecessarily suggestive procedure in obtaining an out-of-court identification and whether the trial court erred in allowing the charges arising from the cab driver’s death to be grouped with the other counts of the indictment.  The FSC found these claims either harmless or without merit and affirmed the sentences and convictions of Death on 08/25/83. 

 

A Petition for a Writ of Certiorari was filed with the United States Supreme Court on 12/15/83 and denied on 02/21/84.

 

A Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus was filed with the FSC on 02/17/86.  The Petition was granted based on a claim of ineffective counsel and was remanded to the circuit court for a new trial on 12/11/86. 

 

A Petition for a Writ of Certiorari was filed with the USSC on 02/26/87 and denied on 04/20/87.

 

A second Direct Appeal was filed with the FSC on 07/11/88.  Issues that were raised on appeal included whether the trial court erred in granting the State’s challenge for cause of two particular jurors and whether the trial court erred in denying Johnson’s motion to suppress the testimony of James Leon Smith, a fellow inmate.  The FSC found all of the claims either harmless or without merit and confirmed the convictions and sentences of Death. 

 

A Petition for a Writ of Certiorari was filed with the USSC on 03/12/93 and denied on 05/17/93.

 

A 3.850 Motion was filed with the state circuit court on 08/01/94 and denied on 12/12/94. 

 

A 3.850 Appeal was filed with the FSC on 02/02/95 and the state’s motion to dismiss was granted on 08/29/95.  The FSC directed the trial court to reinstate the amended 3.850 Motion filed on 05/17/95 and proceed with the hearing. 

 

The amended 3.850 Motion was denied on 03/20/97. 

 

A 3.850 Appeal was filed on 06/09/97.  Issues that were raised on appeal included whether the trial court erred in denying Johnson an evidentiary hearing or additional discovery concerning his public records request, and whether the trial court erred in denying Johnson’s motion to disqualify the presiding judge.  The FSC found all of the claims either harmless or without merit and affirmed the circuit court’s denial of the 3.850. 

 

A Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus was filed with the FSC on 10/10/01. Issues that were raised included whether appellate counsel was ineffective.  The FSC found all of the claims either without merit or procedurally barred and denied the petition on 09/26/02.  

 

A 3.851 Motion was filed with the state circuit court on 02/07/03 and was denied on 03/11/05.    

 

A 3.851 Motion Appeal was filed with the Florida Supreme Court on 04/20/05, and on 03/17/06, the FSC affirmed the denial of the motion.

 

On 04/27/07, a 3.851 Motion was filed in the state circuit court that was denied 04/09/08.

 

Johnson filed a 3.851 Appeal with the Florida Supreme Court on 06/27/08.  On 01/14/10 the FSC reversed the postconviction court’s order denying Johnson’s rule 3.851 Motion.  The FSC vacated Johnson’s death sentences and remanded for a new penalty phase proceeding before a newly empanelled jury.  On 01/29/10 the State filed a Motion for a Rehearing. 

 

A Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus was filed on 10/19/09 that was denied on 12/18/09.

 

 ____________________________________________________________________

 

 

Report Date:   09/17/02          cc

Approved:       10/05/02          ws

Updated:         02/03/10          CAR

 

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