Reversal of Death Penalty Due to Lack of Evidence Placing the Defendant at the Scene of Crime

In Jackson v. State, 575 So. 2d 181 (Fla. 1991), there was no evidence presented at trial that placed the defendant, Clinton Jackson, at the scene of the crime. See Jackson, 575 So. 2d at 184-86. In Jackson, Clinton "denied any involvement in or knowledge of the shooting." Id. at 184. No fingerprints of Clinton's were found at the crime scene and gunpowder residue tests proved inconclusive. See id. at 185. The only evidence presented that connected Clinton with the crime was the testimony of two inmates. One inmate testified that he saw Clinton driving a truck in the vicinity of the crime scene that was identified as a vehicle seen fleeing the crime scene, and that Clinton told him several days before the crime of his intentions to rob the store where the murder took place. The second inmate testified that he overheard Clinton tell his mother: "We had to do it because he had bucked the jack," and "to tell Nate, the defendant's brother, if they picked up Nate, to tell him that he hadn't--he hadn't been nowhere around the hardware store and get rid of the gun." Id. at 185. In reversing the death penalty the Court noted: There was no evidence that Clinton carried a weapon or intended to harm anybody when he walked into the store, or that he expected violence to erupt during the robbery. There was no real opportunity for Clinton to prevent the murder since the crime took only seconds to occur, and the sudden, single gunshot was a reflexive reaction to the victim's resistance.Id. at 192-93.