Rodney Newberry Florida Death Row

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Rodney Newberry Florida Death Row

Rodney Newberry Florida Death Row

December 28, 2009, Defendant [Newberry] set out to commit an armed
robbery of a to-be-determined member of the Jacksonville community who
happened to be located in whatever vulnerable circumstance provided
Defendant the most advantageous opportunity for gain. Defendant was
joined by James Phillips, who is approximately eighteen (18) years
Defendant’s junior, and Robert Anderson, who is approximately seventeen
(17) years Defendant’s junior. Both Phillips and Anderson claim to have
participated in the scheme because each feared Defendant. Further, each
testified that neither had any intention of joining Defendant in the
shooting and killing of any human being.
When the Defendant and
his accomplices assembled, Phillips had two firearms, an AK-47 and a
MAC-11. Defendant had his own gun, a .357 magnum. Once in the car
together, Defendant took possession of the AK-47, along with his .357
magnum. Anderson had the MAC-11. The three men proceeded to drive to the
desired location to begin their search. Phillips apparently drove
because he had a valid driver’s license.
Defendant, Phillips[,]
and Anderson began prowling Duval County in the area surrounding Myrtle
Avenue. After some time, and unable to find a suitable victim to rob,
Defendant suggested, and the others agreed, to move their hunt to the
region around Pearl Street.
Tragically, at approximately 7:20 p.m.
on that fateful day, Terrese Pernell Stevens was spotted at Club
Steppin’ Out. When Defendant spotted Mr. Stevens’s car in the parking
lot, he told Phillips to stop the car. Defendant directed Phillips to go
inside the club, locate Mr. Stevens, and “chirp” Defendant to let him
know when Mr. Stevens was leaving the club.FN
FN. “Chirping” is a
method whereby one can use a certain type of cell phone to direct
connect to another cell phone merely by pressing a button. When this is
done, the recipient’s phone chirps.
While Phillips was in the
club, and before he alerted Defendant, Defendant had Anderson move the
car. Anderson was in the driver’s seat when Defendant’s phone chirped.
He started the car and Defendant, sitting in the front passenger seat
and stretching his foot across the car, pressed Anderson’s foot down on
the gas pedal to make the car go faster. Anderson stopped the car a few
feet from Mr. Stevens’s car. After [Anderson] parked the car, Defendant
got out of the car with the AK-47 and ran to the driver’s side of Mr.
Stevens’s car. Defendant yelled at Mr. Stevens to “give it up, and if
you make one {explicative} move I’ll put it on my daddy that I’m going
to kill you.” At that time, Anderson got out of the car with the MAC-11
and stayed by the driver’s side, never firing the gun. Without warning,
and leaving Mr. Stevens little or no time to comply with Defendant’s
demands, Defendant fired twelve shots from the AK-47 [after, as Anderson
testified at trial, Mr. Stevens said “please don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t
kill me”]. Mr. Stevens was killed.
Defendant got back in the car,
and before Phillips returned to the car, Anderson and Defendant drove
[away]. As they drove, Defendant offered Anderson money that he took
from Mr. Stevens. At first, Anderson refused the money because it had
blood on it, but eventually he took $75.00 from Defendant. Phillips, who
stayed in the club when he heard the gunshots, left the club after the
police arrived. [After the shooting, Phillips] called a friend for a
ride, and [later met up with Newberry and Anderson]. Both men gave
Phillips $20.00 of the money Defendant took from Mr. Stevens.
The
owner of Club Steppin’ Out testified that she was inside the club at the
time of the shooting and, although she did not see the shooting, she
heard the gunshots and called the police. Law enforcement officers who
responded to the scene testified that the victim was lying across the
front seat of his vehicle and that they recovered twelve 7.62 x 39 mm
rifle casings from the scene. No weapons were recovered by law
enforcement.
In the months following the crime, Michelle Massey,
who saw Newberry, Phillips, and Anderson with guns earlier in the day on
the day of the murder and whose phone Newberry was using on the day of
the murder,2
assisted police with obtaining information that led to Newberry being
charged with the victim’s murder. Prior to Newberry’s trial, Anderson
and Phillips both pled guilty to second-degree murder and armed robbery
for their roles in the crime. Anderson also pled guilty to possession of
a firearm by a convicted felon. Neither had been sentenced at the time
of Newberry’s trial, at which they both testified that Newberry shot the
victim.
At trial, the medical examiner testified that the cause
of death was multiple gunshot wounds. She identified numerous wounds,
including to the victim’s neck, arm, chest, abdomen, testicle, legs,
hip, and buttocks, primarily on his left side, some of which were from
the entire bullet going through and others of which were from glass or
pieces of lead from the bullets or metal that injured the victim when he
was shot through the driver’s side of his car.
An FDLE crime lab
analyst and firearms and tool mark expert testified that the AK-47 fires
7.62 x 39 mm ammunition and that the twelve 7.62 x 39 mm casings she
examined were fired from a single firearm. She further testified that
the MAC-11 fires .380 ammunition, and there is no way the MAC-11 could
have fired 7.62 x 39 mm ammunition.
On January 31, 2014,
Newberry’s jury found him guilty of first-degree premeditated and felony
murder and armed robbery and further found that Newberry “discharged a
firearm causing death or great bodily harm during the commission of the
offense.”
During the penalty phase, the State presented the
testimony of the victims of Newberry’s four prior violent felonies as
well as certified copies of Newberry’s prior convictions.3 The State also presented victim impact testimony from Mr. Stevens’s wife and mother, both of whom read statements.
The
defense presented the testimony of Newberry’s former girlfriend and
mother of his four children (and also the victim of one of Newberry’s
prior violent felonies), and she testified that she still holds Newberry
very dear and that he has rekindled his relationship with their
children. In addition, the defense presented testimony from Newberry’s
brother, who testified that they have a good, loving family, and that
Newberry is a good, loving person who got caught up in the wrong crowd.
The defense also presented testimony from Newberry’s cousin, Reginald
Lester, who testified to the role Newberry’s faith plays in his life and
that, in Lester’s opinion, Newberry could make a positive difference in
the lives of other inmates in prison.
Additionally, the defense
presented testimony from Dr. Stephen Bloomfield, an expert in forensic
and clinical psychology. Dr. Bloomfield testified that Newberry achieved
a full scale IQ score of 66. Dr. Bloomfield further testified that he
reviewed Newberry’s school records, which revealed that Newberry had
achieved a full-scale IQ score of 81, in 1977, when he was eight years
old. Dr. Bloomfield explained that he “didn’t diagnose [Newberry] with
[intellectual disability] because in order to be diagnosed with
[intellectual disability] ․ you have to be diagnosed with an IQ of less
than approximately 70 prior to age 18, and you have to have low adaptive
skills. All of this has to happen prior to 18. So[,] there wasn’t that
evidence [to] meet the criteria for [intellectual disability] or to be
considered for an Atkins[v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002),] hearing.”4
Dr.
Bloomfield acknowledged that Newberry “[d]id a lot of things in
society,” including maintain a job and testified that he could not say
that Newberry is not a leader or that he could not get other people to
do things for him. He also testified that Newberry is competent and was
not insane at the time of the crime and that, although Newberry
“appeared depressed [and] anxious” at times, he did not diagnose
Newberry with depression or anxiety and did not “diagnos[e] him with any
kind of mental deficit at all,” but “if there were any type of
diagnosis, it would be ․ borderline intellectual functioning.”
Following
the penalty phase presentation, the jury recommended the death penalty
by a vote of eight to four. At the subsequent Spencer 5
hearing, no additional witnesses testified, but the defense presented
Newberry’s school records as well as his medical records from two
occasions (unrelated to the victim’s murder or any of Newberry’s prior
violent felonies) when Newberry was himself a gunshot victim.

Rodney Newberry 2019 Information

rodney newberry 2019 photos
ID Photo
DC Number:120774
Name:NEWBERRY, RODNEY R
Race:BLACK
Sex:MALE
Birth Date:09/22/1969
Initial Receipt Date:07/28/2011
Current Facility:UNION C.I.
Current Custody:MAXIMUM
Current Release Date:DEATH SENTENCE
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