Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Reese: Ok to argue 'every woman's worst nightmare'

In Reese v. Sec., Fla. Dep’t of Corrections, No. 11-12178 (March 30, 2012), the Court denied habeas relief to a Florida inmate sentenced to death for a 1992 murder.
The Court rejected the argument that the prosecution engaged in improper closing argument when he argued that the manner of the killing was "every woman’s worst nightmare," suggested that the defendant would be released on parole absent a sentence of death, compared the defendant to a "cute little puppy" who grew up to be a "vicious dog," and urged the jury to show the defendant "the same pity" he showed the victim: "none."
The Court found no Supreme Court precedent that the Florida courts had applied unreasonably. In addition, even reviewing the prosecutor’s closing argument de novo, the Court found no improper closing. The Court found that the prosecutor "legitimately urged the jury to consider the victim’s experience" to determine whether the offense was "especially heinous." The prosecutor’s statement about the defendant’s eligibility for parole was a correct statement of the law. The "grew up into a vicious dog" comment was a proper rebuttal of defense witnesses who did not know the defendant as an adult. Reese’s counsel failed to object to the "same mercy" comment.