Juan Ignacio Blanco  


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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Robberies - Juvenile (16)
Number of victims: 2
Date of murders: 1987 / 2001
Date of birth: August 29, 1971
Victims profile: One man / Howard Wetherell, 71
Method of murder: ??? / Beating with a fire poker
Location: Volusia County, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on July 23, 2004

Florida Supreme Court


opinion SC04-1521


DC# 115574
DOB: 08/29/71

Seventh Judicial Circuit, Volusia County Case # 03-35769
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable S. James Foxman
Attorney, Trial: Gerard Keating-Court Appointed
Attorney, Direct Appeal: Todd Scher-Private
Attorney, Collateral Appeals:  Richard Kiley-CCRC-M

Date of Offense: 06/25/01

Date of Sentence: 07/23/04

Circumstances of Offense:

On 07/02/01, 71-year-old Howard Wetherell was alone in his Daytona Beach condominium, when he encountered Richard England and his companion, Michael Jackson.  Jackson had been living with Wetherell, trading sex for money and a place to stay.

In Wetherell’s upstairs bedroom, England used a fire poker to repeatedly beat Wetherell who later died of a cervical spine fracture resulting in suffocation due to a paralyzed diaphragm. 

This same night, England and Jackson stole Wetherell’s antique guns, jewelry, silver and Wetherell’s green Mercury Sable car.  The two fled to Orlando, Florida, employing Reynaldo DeLeon, a friend of England’s, to fence the stolen items. 

Several days after the murder, Jackson was arrested after wrecking the stolen car in Walton County and soon implicated England in the murder.  England, taken into custody on an unrelated violation of probation charge, was later charged with Wetherell’s murder. 

At the trial, witnesses testified that England claimed Wetherell was a pervert who deserved to be killed for  having sexual relations with a young man.  England also made inculpatory statements to DeLeon claiming responsibility for the murder.

DNA on cigarette butts linked the two offenders to the scene, but investigations were stalled due to a white powdery substance that, according to crime scene investigators, had been sprayed to destroy evidence that may have been left. 

Handwriting analysis also linked England to a photograph recovered from the crime scene with the words “Pervert, f—k with us” with an arrow pointing to the victim. 

Codefendant Information:

Michael Jackson was convicted of second-degree murder and is currently serving a life sentence.

Reynaldo DeLeon was charged with multiple felony charges and sentenced to 18 years. 

Prior Incarceration History in the State of Florida:

Offense Date


Sentence Date

Prison Sentence




22Y 0M 0D




5Y 0M 0D




5Y 0M 0D




25Y 0M 0D




2Y 8M 27D

Trial Summary:

11/06/03          Indicted as follows:

Count I:           First-Degree murder

Count II:          Armed Robbery

05/24/04          Jury returned guilty verdicts on all counts of the indictment

05/27/04          Jury recommended death by a vote of 8-4

07/23/04          Sentenced as follows:

Count I:           First-Degree murder – Death

Count II:          Armed Robbery – Life

Case Information:

On 08/24/04, England filed a direct appeal in the Florida Supreme Court, raising 14 issues involving possible errors with the trial itself.  The FSC affirmed both the convictions and death sentence imposed on England.  A motion for rehearing was denied on 09/26/06 and a mandate was issued on 10/16/06.

A Petition for a Writ of Certiorari to the United States Supreme Court was filed on 01/26/07 and denied on 04/02/07.


Death row inmate's sister talks of abuse

Lawyers renew efforts to save England's life

September 16, 2008

DELAND -- A condemned killer sat quietly Monday as his mother and sister testified in his
renewed effort to avoid the death penalty.

Both spoke, sometimes vaguely, of abuse Richard England suffered at the hands of his father while growing up in Georgia. The abuse, which included beatings and strict "military style punishment," was imposed before England was sent away for murdering a New Smyrna Beach man at age 16. England served 11 years for that crime before he was released on parole.

In 2004, England, 36, was convicted for the July 2, 2001, beating death of Howard Wetherell, a former Daytona Beach planning board member. The killing in Wetherell's apartment was described as "horrible, brutal, bone-crushing," by Circuit Judge S. James Foxman, who sentenced England to die after the jury voted 8-4 in favor of recommending the death penalty.

The Florida Supreme Court affirmed England's conviction and death sentence. But now, England's appeals lawyers have renewed their effort to save his life. The primary argument, they say, is that England should get a new trial because his attorneys were ineffective the first time around.

With that aim in mind, Circuit Judge James Clayton is presiding over an evidentiary hearing that is expected to continue Thursday and Friday. The first two witnesses, England's mother and sister, said Monday they were not asked to testify in his trial.

Wetherell, 71, died from a broken neck after he was repeatedly beaten with a fire poker during a robbery.

Michael Douglas Jackson, who had moved in with Wetherell months before, is now serving a life sentence for his role in the killing. Taking back what he'd said earlier, Jackson testified at trial that he was the killer.

There was also a jailhouse snitch, Steven Diehl, who testified he met England in jail and that England confessed to him "beating an old pervert" to death with a pipe, according to court records. Diehl testified in England's trial that England told him Wetherell deserved to die, because he'd been having sex with a young man, according to court records.

Taking the stand Monday, Diehl, who is in custody in Kentucky for a drug offense, said that it was a corrections officer who first solicited information from him, and not the other way around.

Attorneys for England now say his trial lawyers, Gerard Keating and Rob Sanders, failed to adequately question Diehl to reveal he was being used as an agent for the state.

England's sister, Allison, who lives in Texas, described being forced to eat junk food with her two brothers during their childhood until they got sick. "He was pretty rough on all of us," she said of her father, Ronnie England, who had adopted Richard England as a baby.

She said that during the trial, members of the defense team said "they didn't need us" to testify.

"Did Mr. Keating or Mr. Sanders ever explore these types of things with you with regard to your brother's trial?" asked James Viggiano, an attorney working for the state who represents defendants in death penalty appeals. "No, we never talked about the abuse, no," she said.

"If you were asked about these things, would you have come in and testified at your brother's trial?" Viggiano asked her. "Of course," she answered. "I'd do anything for my brother."

Under cross-examination, Assistant Attorney General Barbara Davis pointed out that she had testified by telephone about how the strictness of their father, Ronnie England. "You relayed you had to eat cookies until you were sick, you testified to everything you testified today," Davis prodded. "Yes ma'am," Allison England replied.



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