Juan Ignacio Blanco  


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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Rape
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: January 8, 1996
Date of birth: July 1, 1959
Victim profile: Jennifer Embry
Method of murder: Drowning
Location: Duval County, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on May 12, 2001

Supreme Court of Florida

opinion SC01-1414 opinion SC05-1732

DC# 286173
DOB: 07/01/59   

Fourth Judicial Circuit, Duval County, Case #99-1156
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Peter L. Dearing 
Attorneys, Criminal Trial:  A. Chipperfield & L. Buzzell – Assistant Public Defenders   
Attorney, Direct Appeal: W.C. McClain – Assistant Public Defender 
Attorney, Collateral Appeals: Christopher Anderson – Registry

Date of Offense: 01/08/96

Date of Sentence: 05/17/01

Circumstances of Offense: 

James Belcher was convicted and sentenced to death for the 01/08/96 murder of Jennifer Embry.

On the evening of 01/08/96, James Belcher entered the townhouse of Jennifer Embry.  There were no signs of forced entry.  There, Belcher sexually battered and killed Embry.  He strangled her by placing his hands around her neck and holding her head underneath the water in the bathtub.

At the time of the murder, Belcher lived near Florida Technical College, where Embry took classes.  A friend of Embry’s and an employee of the college testified that they had seen Belcher and Embry talking on different occasions. 

After obtaining a warrant for a sample of Belcher’s blood, DNA tests revealed that the semen found inside Embry and on a slipper in her bathroom matched Belcher’s DNA profile.

Trial Summary:

02/25/99         The defendant was indicted on the following:

Count I:          First-Degree Murder

Count II:         Sexual Battery

02/26/99         Belcher entered a plea of “not guilty.”

03/30/01         The defendant was found guilty of both counts charged in the indictment.

04/11/01         Upon advisory sentencing, the jury, by a 9 to 3 majority, voted for the imposition of the death penalty.

05/17/01         The defendant was sentenced as follows:

Count I:          First-Degree Murder - Death

Count II:         Sexual Battery – 25 years

Case Information:

On 06/25/01, Belcher filed a Direct Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court.  In that appeal, he argued that the trial court erred in denying his motion for mistrial based on an objection made regarding the prosecutor’s closing arguments.  The Florida Supreme Court agreed that the prosecutor’s comments were objectionable, but found the error to be harmless.  Belcher also argued that the trial court erred in the application of the heinous, atrocious and cruel (HAC) aggravating factor and in refusing to read his requested jury instruction.  Belcher also raised issues concerning the constitutionality and proportionality of his death sentence. 

The Florida Supreme Court affirmed his conviction and sentence of death on 07/10/03.

Belcher filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court on 09/17/03, which was denied on 12/01/03. 

Belcher filed a 3.851 Motion in the Circuit Court on 11/12/04 that was denied on 08/25/05. 

Belcher filed a 3.851 Motion Appeal with the Florida Supreme Court on 09/23/05 that is pending. 

Belcher filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus with the Florida Supreme Court on 05/03/06 that is pending.



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