A Florida Death Row inmate convicted of raping and murdering a woman in 1988 in Brevard County will not try to halt his scheduled Aug. 3 execution.
Brevard County Circuit Judge Steve Henderson issued an order on June 28 that said inmate James Phillip Barnes dismissed “all postconviction proceedings.” Such proceedings typically play out in state and federal courts as attorneys for inmates seek to prevent executions.
Henderson wrote that he “conducted an extensive colloquy” with Barnes during a June 27 court hearing and found him “not only competent, but also intelligent.”
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“At the hearing on June 27, 2023, the defendant was adamant that he did not want any postconviction proceedings to occur, that he wanted to accept responsibility for his actions and proceed to execution (his death) without any delay,” the judge wrote. “The defendant specifically told the court that he ‘did not want to delay justice’ and he wanted to ‘see justice to be served in this case.’”
Gov. Ron DeSantis on June 22 signed a death warrant for Barnes, now 61, and the execution was scheduled for Aug. 3 at Florida State Prison. After the death warrant was signed, the Florida Supreme Court — anticipating a legal fight over the execution — scheduled briefs to be filed this week. The News Service of Florida obtained the circuit judge’s June 28 order from the Supreme Court on Thursday.
Barnes was sentenced to death in the April 20, 1988, murder of Patricia “Patsy” Miller in her Melbourne condominium. Barnes in 2005 admitted committing the murder after DNA testing linked him to the crime and as he was in prison for the 1997 murder of his wife, Linda Barnes, according to a 2007 decision by then-Brevard County Circuit Judge Lisa Davidson.
Davidson’s 37-page decision, which sentenced Barnes to death, gave a detailed account of the murder, saying Barnes entered Miller’s condominium through a bedroom window. The judge wrote that Barnes raped Miller twice, tried to strangle her with the belt from her bathrobe and then bludgeoned her in the head with a hammer.
Barnes, who said he did not know Miller, then set fire to a bed where the woman was nude and bound to try to conceal the crime, Davidson wrote. A medical examiner determined that Miller died from blunt-force trauma to the head.
Post-conviction proceedings often involve issues such as whether inmates are mentally competent or whether they received adequate legal representation.
Henderson’s order said Barnes represented himself after being charged with Miller’s murder and in 2006 entered an “open plea” of guilty to the crimes. Barnes also waived a sentencing hearing before a jury, allowing Davidson to decide whether he would be sentenced to death. The Florida Supreme Court later upheld the death sentence and guilty plea.
Barnes is slated to be the fifth inmate executed in Florida this year. DeSantis signed the Barnes death warrant a week after Duane Owen was executed for the 1984 murder of a Palm Beach County woman.
The state on May 3 executed Darryl Barwick in the 1986 murder of a woman in her Panama City apartment. That followed the April 12 execution of Louis Gaskin in the 1989 murders of a couple in Flagler County. The state on Feb. 23 put to death Donald David Dillbeck, who murdered a woman in 1990 during a carjacking in a Tallahassee mall parking lot.
Dillbeck was the first person executed since Gary Ray Bowles was put to death by lethal injection in August 2019 for a 1994 murder in Jacksonville.
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