Ronald Heath was sentenced to death by the State of Florida for the murder of Michael Sheridan. According to court documents Ronald Heath, who had already spent time in prison for another murder, and his brother Kenneth Heath would rob and murder Michael Sheridan. Ronald Heath would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death
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|HEATH, RONALD P
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Heath and his younger brother, Kenneth, drove to Gainesville to visit some of Heath’s friends. On May 24, 1989, the brothers went to the Purple Porpoise Lounge in Gainesville where two of Heath’s friends worked as waitresses. Sometime during the evening the brothers struck up a conversation with Sheridan, a traveling salesman who had come to the lounge for drinks and dinner. Sheridan bought the brothers a drink and inquired if they ever got high or had any marijuana. Heath suggested to Kenneth that they take Sheridan somewhere and rob him; Kenneth agreed. The trio left the bar in Kenneth’s vehicle, which Heath drove to an isolated area of Alachua County. After parking on a dirt road, all three got out of the car and smoked marijuana. Heath made the hand motion of a pistol and asked Kenneth, “Did you get it?” Kenneth retrieved a small-caliber handgun from under the car seat, pointed it at Sheridan, and told him that he was being robbed. Sheridan balked at giving the brothers anything. Heath told Kenneth to shoot Sheridan. When Sheridan lunged at Kenneth, Kenneth shot him in the chest. Sheridan sat down, saying “it hurt.” As Sheridan began to remove his possessions, Heath kicked him and stabbed him in the neck with a hunting knife. Heath attempted to slit Sheridan’s throat, but was unable to complete the task with the dull knife and could only saw at Sheridan’s neck. Heath then instructed Kenneth to kill Sheridan with the gun, and Kenneth shot him twice in the head. The brothers moved the body further into the woods. After returning to the Purple Porpoise, the brothers took Sheridan’s rental car to a remote area, removed some items, and burned the car.
The next day the brothers used Sheridan’s credit cards to purchase clothes, shoes, and other items at a Gainesville mall․ The brothers returned to Jacksonville and tossed the handgun into the St. John’s River. The handgun was never recovered. Heath eventually returned to the trailer which he shared with Powell [his girlfriend] in Georgia.
A medical examiner was dispatched to the scene of the murder on May 30, 1989, to examine the body, which was in a moderately advanced state of decomposition. The examiner estimated that death had occurred three to ten days earlier and that death was caused by multiple gunshot wounds and a sharp force injury to the neck.
Several weeks after the murder, Heath was arrested at his trailer for using the stolen credit cards. Powell granted the officers permission to search the trailer and her car. The officers discovered some of the clothes purchased in Gainesville and Sheridan’s watch.
Both brothers were indicted for the first-degree murder and armed robbery of Sheridan․ Kenneth entered into a plea agreement wherein he pled guilty to the charges and agreed to testify about Sheridan’s murder. Kenneth was sentenced to life imprisonment without eligibility for parole for twenty-five years for the murder conviction.