jason looney
jason looney

Jason Looney and Guerry Hertz were sentenced to death by the State of Florida for a double murder and robbery. According to court documents Jason Looney, Guerry Hertz and Jimmy Dempsey would force their way into a home after asking to use the telephone. During the process of a robbery Melanie King and Robin Keith Spears were both fatally shot and the three men would then set the house on fire. Jason Looney, Guerry Hertz and Jimmy Dempsey were arrested. Jason Looney and Guerry Hertz would be convicted and sentenced to death. Jimmy Dempsey would be sentenced to life for testifying against the other two

Florida Death Row Inmate List

Jason Looney 2021 Information

DC Number:N00676
Birth Date:04/05/1977
Initial Receipt Date:02/24/2000
Current Facility:UNION C.I.
Current Custody:MAXIMUM
Current Release Date:DEATH SENTENCE

Guerry Hertz 2021 Information

ID Photo
DC Number:567668
Birth Date:03/08/1977
Initial Receipt Date:02/24/2000
Current Facility:UNION C.I.
Current Custody:MAXIMUM
Current Release Date:PENDING

James Looney More News

The evidence presented at the trial revealed the following facts.   At approximately 11 p.m. on July 26, 1997, Looney and his codefendants left an acquaintance’s house on foot within walking distance from the victims’ home.   All three men were armed with guns. A resident who lived about 500 yards from the victims testified that Hertz appeared at her door at about 2 a.m. asking to use her phone because “his truck had broken down.”   When she refused, the trio continued down the road towards the victims’ home and, upon seeing the victims’ black Mustang, Looney said, “There’s my car right there.   That’s the one I want.”

Dempsey and Hertz went to the victims’ front door as a decoy and asked if they could use the phone.   King provided them with a cordless phone, and Dempsey feigned making a phone call.   When Dempsey attempted to return the phone, Hertz pointed his gun at King and forced his way in.   Looney then entered and pointed his rifle at Spears.   Spears and King were bound and gagged with duct tape and placed face down on their bed.   Looney and his codefendants removed a significant amount of the victims’ property, including a VCR, a television, jewelry, furniture, and CDs, and loaded the victims’ belongings into the victims’ two vehicles.   Looney also found approximately $1500 of the victims’ money in an envelope, which was ultimately divided equally among the three.

Looney and Hertz concluded that they could leave no witnesses and informed Dempsey of their decision.   Dempsey said Looney and Hertz then poured accelerants throughout the victims’ home.   All three men, still armed, went to the bedroom where the victims were bound, side-by-side, face down on their bed.   When they entered the back bedroom, King said that she would “rather die being burnt up than shot.”   She stated, “Please, God, don’t shoot me in the head.”   Hertz replied, “Sorry, can’t do that,” and then he proceeded to open fire;  Looney followed and then Dempsey.   The victims died as a result of the gunshot wounds.

Subsequent to the shootings, the victims’ home was set ablaze.   Hertz drove away in the victims’ white Ford Ranger, and Looney drove the victims’ black Ford Mustang, with Dempsey as a passenger.   According to Dempsey, the whole episode at the victims’ home lasted about two hours.   The trio proceeded to Hertz’s house and unloaded the stolen items and divided up the money.   Two employees at the Wal-Mart in Tallahassee testified that the three men made purchases at the store at around 5 a.m. the morning of the murders, before “showing off” their new vehicles, i.e., a black Mustang and a white Ford Ranger, to both of the employees.   A Wal-Mart receipt for a clothing purchase was later found in the victims’ Mustang, corroborating the employees’ testimony.

Looney and his codefendants made their way to Daytona Beach Shores where, later that day, they were involved in a pursuit and shootout with police.   Looney and Dempsey were arrested after abandoning and fleeing from the victims’ black Mustang.   Hertz abandoned the victims’ Ford Ranger after being shot, and he paid a cabdriver $100 to drive him to his aunt’s house in St. Augustine.   Hertz was arrested that same day in St. Augustine, and victim Spears’ .9mm gun was recovered from Hertz’s bag.

A firearms expert with FDLE testified that one of the bullets recovered from the area of the victims’ burned bed was fired from the .380 Lorcin handgun recovered from Looney at the time of his arrest in Daytona Beach, i.e., the same handgun owned by Keith Spears and used, according to Dempsey, by Hertz to shoot the victims. The other bullet was fired from a .30 caliber carbine rifle, not inconsistent with .30 caliber rifle used by Looney to shoot the victims, and later recovered in the victims’ Mustang.   A roll of duct tape, Looney’s wallet with $464, and Dempsey’s wallet with $380 were also found in the Mustang.   A fingerprint analyst with FDLE analyzed latent fingerprints taken from the Mustang and concluded that Looney and his codefendants had all touched the car.   The chemist found evidence of various accelerants on items of clothing found in the Mustang.   In addition, a law enforcement investigator with the State Fire Marshal’s Office testified that the kind of damage that was done by the fire does not happen unless an accelerant is used.

The state medical examiner testified that the bodies were severely burned.   He graphically detailed the condition of the bodies as depicted in the photographs:  the legs were burned off below the knees, the hands were burned to nubs, the bones of the arms were fractured by the fire, and the skulls were burned partially away.   The victims had to be positively identified by dental records.   The medical examiner also testified that there could have been other injuries that were not detected due to the extensive burns.

King was shot at least two times in the head, which caused her death.   However, the medical examiner was not able to trace the path of the bullet because the skull was burned away.   He testified that it was possible that other bullets struck the body, which could not be determined because of the fire.   King lived one to two minutes after she was shot.   However, there was no soot in the trachea, indicating that she was not alive when the fire started.   Spears was shot at least one time in the head, which caused his death.   The bullet went in the back of the neck and exited above the right eye.   Spears also lived one to two minutes after he was shot, and again, no soot was discovered in his trachea, meaning that he was dead at the time of the fire.   The defense did not present any evidence.

A jury convicted both Looney and Hertz of the first-degree murders of King and Spears, burglary of a dwelling while armed with a firearm, armed robbery with a firearm, arson of a dwelling, and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.   By a majority vote of ten to two, for each murder, the jury recommended and advised that the death penalty be imposed against Looney and Hertz.   By written order, the judge imposed a sentence of death for each murder.


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