Lawyer's Failure to Present Abusive Childhood Mitigating Evidence

In Tompkins v. Dugger, 549 So. 2d 1370, 1373 (Fla. 1989), the defendant claimed that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to present mitigating evidence including his abusive childhood and an addiction to drugs and alcohol. This Court agreed that counsel had been deficient, but agreed with the trial court's finding that in light of the three aggravators (prior violent felony, murder committed during commission of a sexual battery, and heinous atrocious and cruel (HAC)), that "this evidence would not have affected the penalty in light of the crime and the nature of the aggravating circumstances." Id. Similarly, in Breedlove v. State, 692 So. 2d 874, 877 (Fla. 1997), the defendant alleged that trial counsel should have elicited more mitigating testimony from lay witnesses. This Court held that even if that testimony had been presented, the aggravators of HAC, commission during a felony, and prior violent felonies would have "overwhelmed potential mitigating factors presented by witnesses." Id. at 878.