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John Steven HUGGINS

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Kidnapping - Robbery
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: June 10, 1997
Date of birth: February 16, 1962
Victim profile: Carla Larson
Method of murder: Strangulation
Location: Orange County, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on February 26, 1999. Resentenced to death on September 19, 2002
 
 

 

Florida Supreme Court

 

opinion SC96216

opinion SC02-2364

 
 

 
 

DC#   059121
DOB:  
02/16/62

Ninth Judicial Circuit, Orange County Case # 98-7190
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Belvin Perry, Jr.
Attorney, Trial: Bob Wesley & Tyrone King – Public Defender & Asst. Public Defender
Attorney, Direct Appeal: Christopher Quarles – Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, Collateral Appeals: Eric Pinkard – CCRC-M

Date of Offense: 06/10/97

Date of Sentence: 02/26/99

Date of Sentence: 09/19/02

Circumstances of Offense:

On the morning of 06/10/97, Carla Larson took her daughter to day care and went to work.  Prior to lunch, Larson told a coworker that she was going to a grocery store to pick up food for an afternoon meeting. 

A receipt indicated that she purchased food, but Larson never returned to work.  Numerous witnesses saw a Ford Explorer sport utility vehicle (SUV) that matched a description of Larson’s SUV in a wooded area off the Osceola Parkway.

Two days later, while being led by witnesses who saw the SUV in the woods, coworkers found the body of Larson.  The cause of death was strangulation and Larson’s jewelry, clothing, and purse were missing. 

On the day of Larson’s disappearance, John Huggins, his wife Angel and their five children were visiting the Orlando area.  John Huggins’ mother-in-law, Fay Blades, testified at trial that, when she came home from work on 06/10/97, she noticed an unfamiliar, white SUV in her carport.  Blades’ neighbors also noticed a white, Ford SUV in Blades’ carport, but noted that the vehicle was spray-painted black later in the week.

On 06/26/97, police were called to investigate a burning truck on a vacant lot in Cocoa Beach.  An investigation revealed the truck was Larson’s white Ford Explorer SUV, which had been partially painted black.

On 06/27/97, John Huggins fled Florida with his sister-in-law, with whom he had begun a relationship.  Shortly thereafter, Angel Huggins saw a television show, America’s Most Wanted, which featured Larson’s murder.  Angel Huggins suspected her husband of committing the murder and called police. 

In late June and July 1997, police conducted three searches of Blades’ house and a shed on her property, but no incriminating evidence was found.  Blades conducted a search of her own and found jewelry, later found to belong to Larson, hidden in her shed.  

Trial Summary:

05/28/98          Indicted as follows:

Count I: First-Degree Murder
Count II: Carjacking
Count III: Robbery
Count IV: Kidnapping

12/28/98          Trial venue changed to Duval County

02/03/99          Jury returned guilty verdicts on all counts of the indictment

02/10/99          Jury recommended death by a vote of 8-4

02/26/99          Sentenced as follows:

Count I: First-Degree Murder – Death
Count II: Carjacking – 30 Years
Count III: Robbery – Life
Count IV: Kidnapping – Life

04/11/02          Retrial venue changed to Hillsborough County

07/25/02          Jury returned guilty verdicts on all Counts I, II, and IV, and the lesser included charge of Petit Theft for Count III

07/26/02          Jury recommended death by a vote of 9-3

09/19/02          Sentenced as follows:

Count I: First-Degree Murder – Death
Count II: Carjacking – 30 Years
Count III: Petit Theft – 60 Days
Count IV: Kidnapping – Life

Case Information:

Huggins filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus with the Circuit Court on 03/25/99, alleging a Brady violation by the State.  On 05/21/99, an Evidentiary Hearing was held, and, on 07/21/99, the Circuit Court granted the petition.  A retrial was ordered in the case.

Huggins filed a Direct Appeal with the Florida Supreme Court on 04/05/99.  On 08/09/99, a Motion to Dismiss was filed and the appeal was dismissed on 07/13/00. 

On 08/09/99, the State filed an appeal of the granting of the Habeas Petition by the Circuit Court.  On 06/07/01, the FSC affirmed the granting of the petition.

Huggins filed a Direct Appeal with the Florida Supreme Court on 10/31/02, alleging the following trial court errors: admitting certain evidence and testimony, granting a juror challenge, admitting prejudicial evidence, introducing medical examiner’s testimony, admitting victim evidence and victim-impact evidence, denying a motion for acquittal, denying a request for a jury instruction regarding circumstantial evidence, denying motions to disqualify the prosecutor, finding aggravating circumstances, sentencing based on a disproportionate penalty, and Ring claims.  On 12/02/04, the FSC affirmed the convictions and sentences.

Huggins filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court on 03/22/05 that was denied on 06/06/05.

Huggins filed a 3.851 Motion with the Circuit Court on 06/05/06 that is pending.

Huggins was declared incompetent on 11/27/06.

FloridaCapitalCases.state.fl.us



The victim
 

Carla Larson

 

 

 
 
 
 
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