Disparate Sentencing In a Death Sentence Case Example

In Kight v. State, 784 So. 2d 396, 400 (Fla. 2001), cert. denied, 534 U.S. 1093, 122 S. Ct. 840, 151 L. Ed. 2d 719 (2002), the court noted that disparate treatment is permissible where one defendant is more culpable than the others. The courts have consistently affirmed death sentences for the more culpable defendant where the evidence establishes he or she was the dominant force in the killing. For example, in Johnson v. State, 696 So. 2d 317 (Fla. 1997), the defendant similarly argued that his death sentence was disproportionate to that of a codefendant who was convicted of first-degree murder but sentenced to life imprisonment. In affirming the trial court's imposition of death on Johnson, this Court determined that he was the leader in the attack, recruited the others, obtained the weapons, and arranged the necessary transportation. See also Garcia v. State, 492 So. 2d 360, 368 (Fla. 1986) (denying defendant's claim on direct appeal that a death sentence was disproportionate in light of codefendants' life sentences where the evidence against the defendant included an admission that he was the triggerman).