Is the Application of HAC Improper If the Defendant is Not the Actual Killer Though He Hired a Killer ?
In Omelus v. State, 584 So. 2d 563 (Fla. 1991), the court held that application of heinous atrocious and cruel (HAC) was improper where the defendant was not the actual killer--even though he had hired the killer--because there was no evidence that the defendant knew how the killer would carry out the murder. Id. at 566;
Williams v. State, 622 So. 2d 456, 463 (Fla. 1993) (holding that HAC "cannot be applied vicariously, absent a showing by the State that the defendant directed or knew how the victim would be killed");
Archer v. State, 613 So. 2d 446, 448 (Fla. 1993) ("A defendant who arranges for a killing but who is not present and who does not know how the murder will be accomplished cannot be subjected vicariously to the heinous, atrocious, or cruel aggravator.").
In Omelus Justice Grimes authored a concurrence in which he stated that "if a person contracts for another to commit murder and the murder is committed in a heinous, atrocious, or cruel manner, I do not see why the aggravating factor of heinous, atrocious, or cruel cannot be imposed against that person." 584 So. 2d at 567.