Dwight Eaglin Florida Death Row

dwight eaglin

Dwight Eaglin was sentenced to death by the State of Florida for two prison murder. According to court documents Dwight Eaglin and Steven Smith would murder correctional officer Darla Lathram and inmate Charles Fuston at the Charlotte Correctional Institution in 2003 following an attempted prison escape. Dwight Eaglin would be convicted and sentenced to death.

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Dwight Eaglin 2021 Information

DC Number:166224
Name:EAGLIN, DWIGHT T
Race:WHITE
Sex:MALE
Birth Date:12/23/1975
Initial Receipt Date:01/23/2001
Current Facility:UNION C.I.
Current Custody:MAXIMUM
Current Release Date:DEATH SENTENCE

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The evidence at trial established that in 2003, the Charlotte Correctional Institution was undergoing a renovation of the inmate dormitories. That same year, Eaglin, [Stephen] Smith, and [Michael] Jones, who were part of a group of inmates permitted to participate in the renovation process, began planning an escape attempt. With regard to the escape plans, the inmates constructed an escape ladder and a metal tool that would hook to the outer lights of the prison, but the tool was destroyed a month before the attempted escape. Eaglin blamed [the inmate victim, Charles] Fuston and John Beaston, another inmate, for destroying the tool.

Two inmates, Kenneth Christopher Lykins and Jesse Baker, testified to what they heard about the escape plans. Lykins testified that he overheard Eaglin, Smith, and Jones talking about their upcoming escape. Specifically, Eaglin stated that he would kill Fuston before he left because “he didn’t like the way he disrespected him.” Lykins also overheard Eaglin state that he would kill anyone who tried to stop him from doing what he was going to do. On cross-examination, Lykins, a twelve-time convicted felon, was impeached with an affidavit in which he denied knowing anything about the escape or the killing of Lathrem and Fuston. He explained this prior inconsistency by stating he had been concerned with his own safety.

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Jesse Baker, another inmate and nine-time convicted felon, also testified to overhearing the escape plans. He specifically heard Eaglin, Smith, and Jones stating that “they would kill any bitch that got in their way.” Further, Baker testified that Eaglin wanted to “straighten” Fuston, which indicated an intent to kill. Baker was impeached with the fact that he suffered from severe depression and was previously housed in the psychiatric dorm and the crisis unit of the prison.

Additional testimony from correctional officers working at the time of the escape attempt established that on June 11, 2003, Eaglin was observed attempting to jump on the outer-perimeter fence of the prison. When officers responded to the scene, Eaglin was sprayed with chemical agents and subdued. Thereafter, Officer Lathrem was found in a mop closet, huddled in a fetal position with injuries to her head area. A medium-sized sledgehammer was located near her body. Fuston was located in another cell lying on the floor with blood coming from underneath his head. He was unconscious but still breathing at that time. Beaston was found conscious in a secured cell with a large wound in the middle of his forehead. Beaston was the only surviving victim of the attacks.

The morning after the attempted escape, Eaglin was questioned regarding the murders. Eaglin stated he wanted the “chair,” and that he “tried to kill those three people.” Eaglin also admitted that he tried to “jump the fence.”

With regard to the injuries suffered by the victims, the medical examiner, Dr. R.H. Imami, testified that Lathrem’s injuries included a hemorrhage in her right eye, two injuries on the right side of her head, and injuries on her face. Dr. Imami found no evidence of defensive wounds or injuries and concluded that skull and brain injuries were the cause of Lathrem’s death. The cause of these injuries was heavy, blunt force trauma. Dr. Imami opined that Lathrem was struck at least three times and that any of the blows would have caused her death. Finally, Dr. Imami stated that she believed the sledgehammer entered into evidence caused the injuries.

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Dr. Imami also conducted the autopsy of Fuston. Fuston had injuries to the right and left sides of his face and head, the back of his head, and his mouth, in addition to skull fractures caused by blunt trauma. In total, Fuston suffered three to four fatal blows. Dr. Imami did not see typical defensive wounds but she observed a small skin scrape on the back of Fuston’s left hand. She opined that the scrape could have been caused when he fell or during subsequent medical intervention. Ultimately, Dr. Imami concluded that skull and brain injuries by blunt-force trauma to the head were also the cause of Fuston’s death and that the trauma was caused by a hammer.

Upon the testing of evidence obtained during the investigation of the murders, Lathrem’s DNA was discovered on the sledgehammer that was near her body. Both Lathrem’s and Fuston’s DNA were located on the pants Eaglin wore on the day of the murder. Lathrem’s DNA was also located on Eaglin’s left boot. On cross-examination, defense counsel referred to earlier testimony of a corrections officer who testified that he assisted in removing Lathrem’s body from the mop closet and then escorted Eaglin to the visiting park. The crime laboratory analyst conceded that this scenario presented the possibility of cross-contamination between Lathrem’s blood and Eaglin’s clothes. She also stated that she did not analyze every item sent to her but she matched the DNA profile of Lathrem to DNA found on codefendant Smith’s right shoe.

The defense presented no witnesses but moved for a judgment of acquittal, which was denied by the court. The jury convicted Eaglin of the first-degree murders of Lathrem and Fuston.

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Eaglin, 19 So.3d at 939–40.

During the penalty phase, the State presented evidence of Eaglin’s prior violent felony—first-degree murder with a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Id. at 940. He was serving this sentence at the time of the murders in this case. Id.

https://caselaw.findlaw.com/fl-supreme-court/1705652.html

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