Nineteenth Judicial Circuit,
Indian River County, Case# 90-658
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable
Trial Attorney: Clifford H.
Barnes – Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, Direct Appeal:
Margaret Good – Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, Collateral Appeals:
Rachel L. Day – CCRC-S
Date of Offense: 07/03/90
Date of Sentence: 05/01/91
Circumstances of the Offense:
The victim, Donna Burnell,
worked as a clerk at the Nu Pak convenience store in Indian River
On the morning of 07/03/90, a man entered the store and shot her
three times with a .32 caliber handgun. Ms. Burnell was shot in the
face, head, and chest, which she died from on the way to the hospital.
The man left the scene without taking any money from the store.
The police were able to link
Rodney Lowe to the incident due to the facts that his fingerprints were
found at the scene and his vehicle was seen leaving the parking lot of
the convenience store.
They brought him in for questioning the following
week. After having a brief conversation with his girlfriend, Lowe gave a
statement that implicated him in the murder. He was arrested after
giving this statement.
07/25/90 Indicted as
Count I: First-Degree
Count II: Attempted Robbery
with a Firearm
07/25/90 Lowe entered a
written plea of not guilty
04/21/91 Jury returned
guilty verdicts on all counts of the indictment
recommended death by a vote of 9-3
05/01/91 Sentenced as
Count I: First-Degree
Murder – Death
Count II: Attempted Robbery with a Firearm –
15 years,to run consecutive
to the sentence of Count I.
Lowe filed his direct appeal to
the Florida Supreme Court on 05/22/91. He raised ten issues in regards
to the guilt phase of his trial and seven issues regarding the penalty
phase. The main issue that Lowe raised was whether the trial court erred
in admitting his confession. He contended that the police used his
girlfriend to coerce him to confess after he had invoked his right to
The Court found no merit in this claim and affirmed Lowe’s
convictions and death sentence on 11/23/94.
Lowe filed a Petition of Writ of
Certiorari to the United States Supreme Court on 07/20/95, which was
denied on 10/02/95.
Lowe filed a 3.850 Motion to the
Circuit Court on 03/19/97. The motion was amended three times on the
following dates: 09/20/00, 04/27/01, and 06/23/03. On 08/11/04, an
order was rendered, denying the second amended motion.
On 08/25/04, Lowe filed a
successive 3.850 Motion to the Circuit Court. Based on new evidence,
which indicated that Lowe had an accomplice (Dwayne Blackmon) to the
murder and robbery, Judge Hawley issued an order granting a new penalty
phase (consolidated order disposing the first, second, and second
amended successive motions) on 03/17/05. The evidence came in the form
of affidavits and testimony from people who implicate Blackmon, who died
from a heart problem in August 2003, in Burnell’s murder.
On 04/15/05, Lowe filed a 3.850
Appeal to the Florida Supreme Court, which is currently pending.
On 12/20/05, Lowe filed a
Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus to the Florida Supreme Court, which
is also pending.