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Eric Scott BRANCH





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Convicted rapist - Robbery
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: January 11, 1993
Date of birth: February 7, 1971
Victim profile: Susan Morris
Method of murder: Strangulation
LocationEscambia County, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on May 3, 1994

Supreme Court of Florida

opinion 83805 opinion SC05-433

DC# 313067  
DOB: 02/07/71

First Judicial Circuit, Escambia County, Case #93-870 CF
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Edward Nickinson
Trial Attorney: John L. Allbritton – Private
Attorney, Direct Appeal: David Davis – Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, Collateral Appeals: Michael Reiter – Registry

Date of Offense: 01/11/93

Date of Sentence: 05/03/94         

Circumstances of Offense:

Eric Scott Branch was convicted and sentenced to death for the sexual battery and murder of Susan Morris on 01/11/93.

In order to evade Indiana police authorities, Branch planned to abandon his vehicle and steal a car from the University of West Florida.  On 01/11/93, Branch attacked Morris in the university parking lot, and stole her red Toyota.  Morris’ beaten body was discovered not far away, in a wooded area.  Morris was found nude, with many injuries characteristic of a severe beating and a wooden stick was found broken off in her vagina.

The defendant was arrested in Indiana a few days after the murder.

Additional Information: 

On 11/18/94, Branch was sentenced to 30 years for an additional sexual battery charge in Florida.  This incident, however, occurred prior to the murder for which Branch was sentenced to death. 

Branch was also convicted of sexual battery in the state of Indiana.

Trial Summary:

02/23/93          Defendant indicted on:

Count I:           First-Degree Murder

Count II:          Sexual Battery

Count III:         Grand Theft Auto

03/10/94          The jury found the defendant guilty on all counts.

03/11/94          Upon advisory sentencing, the jury, by a 10 to 2 majority, voted for the death penalty.

05/03/94          The defendant was sentenced as followed:

Count I:           First-Degree Murder - Death

Count II:          Sexual Battery – Life in Prison

Count III:         Grand Theft Auto – Five years

Case Information: 

Branch filed his Direct Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court on 06/06/94.  In that appeal, he contended that the trial court erred in failing to grant him a continuance, and in failing to adequately examine his claim of incompetent counsel.  Branch also argued the court’s failure to give special jury instructions and the presentation of victim impact evidence.  The Florida Supreme Court affirmed the convictions and sentence of death on 11/21/96 and the mandate was issued on 02/07/97. 

Branch filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court on 03/24/97 that was denied on 05/12/97.

Branch next filed a 3.850 Motion in the State Circuit Court on 05/07/98 and amended the motion on 04/01/03 and 10/10/03.  On 12/30/04, the Circuit Court denied the motion.

Branch filed a 3.850 Motion Appeal with the Florida Supreme Court on 03/09/05, raising the following issues: ineffective assistance of counsel at the guilt and penalty phases and using an Indiana conviction to establish the prior violent felony aggravator.  On 08/31/06, the FSC affirmed the denial of the motion.   

Branch filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus with the Florida Supreme Court on 08/31/05, raising the issue of ineffective assistance of counsel.  On 08/31/06, the FSC denied the petition.


Eric Scott Branch



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