HAC Aggravator Applies only in Torturous Murders With the Desire to Inflict Pain or Enjoyment of Suffering
In Guzman v. State, 721 So. 2d 1155, 1162 (Fla. 1998), this Court disapproved a cold, calculated and premeditated (CCP) finding in a sentencing order based on a stabbing of a victim during a robbery.
The defendant told witnesses that when the victim awoke during a motel room robbery, the defendant struck and stabbed the victim ten or eleven times with a samurai sword that the defendant found in the room. See id.
This Court concluded that the murder was "neither calculated nor committed with heightened premeditation," but instead was "an extemporaneous action intended to eliminate a potential witness to the theft." Id.
In Guzman, the court stated:
The heinous atrocious and cruel (HAC) aggravator applies only in torturous murders--those that evince extreme and outrageous depravity as exemplified either by the desire to inflict a high degree of pain or utter indifference to or enjoyment of the suffering of another. Kearse v. State, 662 So. 2d 677 (Fla.1995); Cheshire v. State, 568 So. 2d 908 (Fla.1990).
The crime must be conscienceless or pitiless and unnecessarily torturous to the victim. Richardson v. State, 604 So. 2d 1107 (Fla.1992); Hartley v. State, 686 So. 2d 1316 (Fla.1996).
The HAC aggravating circumstance has been consistently upheld where the victim was repeatedly stabbed. See, e.g., Finney v. State, 660 So. 2d 674 (Fla.1995); Pittman v. State, 646 So. 2d 167 (Fla.1994); Atwater v. State, 626 So. 2d 1325 (Fla.1993). 721 So. 2d at 1159.
Guzman stabbed the victim numerous times with a samurai sword in the course of a robbery. See id. This Court upheld the trial court's finding of HAC (heinous atrocious and cruel), concluding that the wounds were "exemplified by an utter indifference to the suffering of another and the desire to inflict a high degree of pain.
The victim was alive and conscious and experienced fear, terror, pain, and foreknowledge of death." Id. at 1160.
In Brown, in which the victim suffered seventeen stab wounds, this Court upheld the HAC aggravator, concluding that the trial court reasonably found that the victim was conscious at the time of the attack and was aware of what was happening. See 721 So. 2d at 278. See also Nibert v. State, 508 So. 2d 1, 4 (Fla. 1987) (HAC upheld where victim was stabbed seventeen times, had several defensive wounds, and remained conscious during the attack).