Court Holds the Avoid-Arrest Aggravating Factor Improper Considering That the Victim's Murder Was Premeditated
In Zack v. State, 753 So. 2d 9, 20 (Fla. 2000), the court held that the avoid-arrest aggravating factor was improperly found when the facts indicated that Zack committed the murder at issue during the course of committing multiple crimes over a period of several days and in multiple cities.
The court explained that the record suggests only that the victim's murder was part of Zack's premeditated plan to kill her and take her car and possessions.
While it is true that Zack did not have to murder the victim to accomplish his monetary goals, this alone does not make Zack's dominant motive the desire to avoid arrest. Id.
In Buzia v. State, 926 So. 2d 1203, 1210 (Fla. 2006), the court distinguished Zack and emphasized that unlike Zack, Buzia was not on a "crime-riddled journey."
Buzia knew his victims, he easily subdued the victims, and the victims posed no immediate threat to Buzia. Id. at 1206, 1211.
Thus, there was little reason for Buzia to kill the victims other than to avoid arrest. Id. at 1211.
Similarly, in Looney v. State, 803 So. 2d 656, 677 (Fla. 2001), the court held that the trial court properly found the avoid-arrest aggravating factor where Looney and his codefendants entered the victims' home, subdued the victims, and then killed the victims after realizing that the victims knew a codefendant. 803 So. 2d at 676-78.
The court emphasized that Looney and his codefendants were able to leave the premises without injuring or killing the victims because they had access to the victims' vehicle and the victims were immobilized and unable to resist.
Thus, there was no reason for Looney and his codefendants to kill the victims other than to avoid arrest. Id. at 677-78;
Hoskins v. State, 965 So. 2d 1, 20 (Fla. 2007) (holding that avoid-arrest aggravator was supported by fact that defendant could have left elderly victim, who had been bound and gagged, without killing her);
Thompson v. State, 648 So. 2d 692, 695 (Fla. 1994) (upholding the avoid-arrest aggravating factor where defendant had little reason to kill the victims--other than to eliminate witnesses--after obtaining the victims' money).