Raymond Bright was sentenced to death by the State of Florida for a double murder. According to court documents Raymond Bright would murder 16-year-old Randall Brown and 20-year-old Derrick King III with a hammer. Raymond Bright would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death
Raymond Bright 2021 Information
|Initial Receipt Date:||11/20/2009|
|Current Facility:||UNION C.I.|
|Current Release Date:||DEATH SENTENCE|
Raymond Bright More News
On February 18, 2008, Michael Majors went to the home of fifty-four-year-old defendant Raymond Bright in Jacksonville, Florida. Twenty-year-old Derrick King, sixteen-year-old Randall Brown, and Bright were in the house. At approximately 8 p.m., Majors and Brown both left the home.
Brown returned to his mother’s home and, after receiving a phone call, borrowed his mother’s rental vehicle and left her house between 9 and 9:30 p.m. At approximately 11 p.m., Brown spoke with his mother by phone and advised that he would be home shortly; however, he never returned. At around 8 a.m. the next morning, Majors attempted to call Brown on his cellular phone, but there was no answer. Majors called Brown’s mother and was advised that Brown had not returned. Majors then went to Bright’s house and, having no response to his knock at the door, Majors climbed into the house through an open window. Upon entering the family room, Majors discovered the bodies of King and Brown.
Derrick King was lying face down on the carpet next to a sofa, partially wrapped in a sleeping bag or comforter. The sofa was saturated with blood on one end, which was adjacent to where King’s head rested on the floor. The wall behind the sofa and the ceiling above the sofa evidenced blood. An evidence technician testified during trial that the blood on the ceiling was cast-off blood,1 and the pattern was consistent with someone being on the couch and swinging his arm back.
Randall Brown was found seated sideways in a recliner with his head leaning up against a wall and a blanket covering his head. The wall against which Brown’s body rested presented a pattern of blood that radiated from his head, and there was also blood on the ceiling. When crime scene technicians moved the recliner away from the wall, a pool of blood was discovered on the floor. Above Brown’s head was a framed picture with one side of the frame broken away. That one side was indented, consistent with having been struck by something round, such as a hammer.
Outside the house, the crime scene technicians located a loaded nine-millimeter Smith & Wesson pistol, a loaded assault rifle, and a pair of mechanic’s gloves. During a subsequent search of Bright’s yard, technicians recovered a hammer that had been buried. DNA testing on the hammer revealed two separate DNA profiles, one of which was a major contributor and the other of which was a minor contributor. During trial, the parties stipulated that the DNA of the major contributor matched the known profile of Derrick King. Randall Brown could not be excluded as the minor contributor. The gloves did not test positive for blood. Further, no latent fingerprints of value were found on the hammer, the nine-millimeter handgun, the assault rifle, or their magazines or ammunition. No foreign DNA was detected on the fingernail clippings of either victim.
At 7:30 a.m. on the morning of February 19 (the day that the victims were discovered), Bright’s ex-wife picked him up at a church near his home. The ex-wife testified that she and Bright had made plans to secure the admission of Bright to a United States Department of Veterans Affairs clinic for treatment of his cocaine addiction. She testified that they had agreed to meet at the church because she “was in fear of what was going on” at Bright’s house. During the Spencer hearing, see Spencer v. State, 615 So.2d 688 (Fla.1993), the ex-wife testified that she and Bright had previously made multiple calls to law enforcement—including the narcotics division of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Department and Crime Stoppers—to report that Bright wanted certain individuals removed from his house because they had essentially taken over the house for the purpose of selling drugs. While one officer suggested that Bright accompany the police to the house and identify the persons who were allegedly dealing drugs, Bright and his ex-wife refused to agree to this proposal because they feared retaliation.2
After the ex-wife met Bright at the church on the morning of February 19, she called a lawyer and arranged for Bright to speak with homicide detectives the next day. However, at 1:45 a.m. on February 20, law enforcement arrived at the home of the ex-wife and Bright was placed in custody. Subsequent to the arrest, the ex-wife disposed of Bright’s bloody clothes because she did not want them in her house.
Bright made statements to separate individuals with regard to what allegedly occurred on the night of the murders. Prior to his arrest, Bright informed friend and former coworker Benjamin Lundy that he had “screwed up” and may have killed two people. Bright told Lundy that the murders occurred after a confrontation erupted when one of the victims accused Bright of stealing drugs. After his arrest, Bright also described the events to Mickey Graham, who was in jail at the same time with Bright on unrelated charges. According to Graham, Lavelle Copeland had moved in with Bright, and he and others were running a crack cocaine operation out of the house.3 Bright was afraid of them and felt threatened because they possessed guns. Bright did not want them there and had called the police in an attempt to remove them from the premises.
Bright told Graham that he went into the kitchen at 2 a.m. on February 19. King was on the sofa and Brown was in the recliner. Brown had a nine-millimeter handgun in his hand and started waving it around. King rose from the sofa and removed the gun from Brown’s hand. Bright saw an opportunity and attempted to take the gun away from King. The men struggled and the gun discharged.4 The gunshot startled King and caused him to release the handgun. Bright then pointed the gun at King and attempted to shoot him, but the gun misfired. Bright dropped the weapon and attempted to run out of the house, but he tripped and fell. He grabbed a hammer that was within reach, turned around, and commenced striking King, knocking him back toward the sofa where King had previously been lying down. When Bright turned around, he saw that Brown was about to pick up the handgun. Bright then began to strike Brown with the hammer. The next time Bright turned toward the sofa, he saw King reaching for an assault rifle. At that time, Bright again struck King with the hammer. When Bright stopped, he could still hear King and Brown breathing and gurgling, but then the room became silent. Bright described his actions to Graham as having “lost it.”
The autopsies of King and Brown were conducted by different medical examiners. However, both independently concluded that each victim died from blunt impact trauma to the head. King was struck thirty-eight times about the neck and head, and twenty additional times on his body, for a total of fifty-eight individual injuries. The wounds were consistent with a hammer-type instrument, and injuries were present on the front, back, top, left, and right sides of King’s head. Further, the injuries to his body were consistent with defensive wounds. The medical examiner testified that the injuries were consistent with King defending himself against being hit in the head with a hammer and eventually succumbing to the attack. Toxicology results were positive for cocaine and marijuana in King’s system.
Brown’s skull was fractured in eight to ten separate locations, and he also received fourteen other independent injuries to his body. The injuries to the body, which included a fractured ulna, were consistent with defensive wounds. Based upon the number of injuries to Brown’s body, the medical examiner opined that the attack was not brief, but lasted for minutes. Based on the nature of the defensive wounds, the medical examiner concluded that the only injury that would have been fatal on its own, and would have rendered Brown unconscious immediately—a depressed skull fracture—could not have been the first injury inflicted. The medical examiner testified that all of the injuries inflicted upon Brown would have been painful, and they were consistent with a scenario in which Brown was either sitting in a recliner, or fell back onto a recliner, and was repeatedly hit with a hammer as he tried to defend himself. No alcohol or drugs were detected in Brown’s system. The jury found Bright guilty of two counts of first-degree murder.
During the penalty phase, the parties stipulated that in 1990, Bright was convicted of armed robbery. A Pensacola police sergeant testified that Bright was arrested for robbing a convenience store while using a knife. During the robbery, Bright leaned over the counter in an attempt to remove money from the register, but he never went behind the counter. The State also introduced victim impact statements from Randall Brown’s mother, aunt, and sister, and Derrick King’s grandmother, cousin, and sister.
Bright presented the testimony of his sister, Janice Jones, who stated that Bright and another brother had taken care of her when she was young. Bright had also stepped in and served as the father that her daughter never had. She testified that Bright repaired the roof on her house and saved her $3000 after Hurricane Ivan caused damage. There was an eighteen-month waiting list for roofers when Bright performed the repairs.
Attorney and former marine James Hernandez testified that Bright served nine-plus years in the United States Marine Corps (USMC), during which he served as a fighter jet mechanic. Hernandez described Bright’s multiple promotions during his service in the USMC. Hernandez testified that Bright received two separate awards for good conduct, a prerequisite of which is three continuous years of honorable service in the USMC. Hernandez also explained that Bright received a Meritorious Mast Award for noticing a problem on a jet upon take-off which required it to land, thereby preventing a “tragic mishap.” Bright received two separate honorable discharges from the USMC, and one general discharge under honorable conditions. The reason for the general discharge was listed as “Alcohol Abuse Rehabilitation Failure.”
Bright’s girlfriend and two of his former coworkers, Benjamin Lundy and Brian Williams, testified that Bright struggled with drugs and alcohol. The girlfriend stated that when she first met Bright, he was smart, intelligent, hardworking, and clean. However, in November and December of 2007, she noticed that he was continuously fatigued and no longer wanted to do anything. She stated that “[a]fter the drugs took him over he couldn’t do nothing, his whole life was just gone.” The girlfriend testified that when Bright was away from his house, he wanted to seek assistance and clean up his life. However, she observed that as soon as he returned to the house, “that was it.” Brian Williams testified as to one incident where Bright’s ex-wife called and asked him to come to her house to check on Bright. When Williams arrived, Bright was intoxicated and upset, and he threatened suicide. Williams contacted the police, who responded and spoke with Bright, but then left. Lundy testified that he suspected Bright was involved in something more serious than alcohol when Bright started to miss work, which was out of character for him. In addition to being coworkers, Williams and Lundy also considered Bright to be a friend. Lundy stated that when he or anyone else needed help, Bright was always available. Bright helped Williams surprise his children one Christmas by bringing the children the bicycles that Williams had previously hidden.
Lester Baker, who supervised Bright at a mattress manufacturing company during the early 1990s, and Lundy and Williams, who previously worked with Bright at a commercial diesel truck shop, testified that Bright was likable, dedicated, and a hard worker. Lundy and Williams stated that Bright mentored young mechanics and would often volunteer to stay late to complete a project but not charge the shop for the time. They also testified that Bright never appeared to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol while at work.
Finally, Bright presented the testimony of the records custodian of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office jail, who established that there was no record of any disciplinary reports for Bright.
On September 1, 2009, the jury recommended by a vote of eight to four that Bright be sentenced to death for the murders of Derrick King and Randall Brown.