State Attorney Bill Eddins’ office has announced it will likely have a second go at seeing Shawn Rogers sentenced to die for the 2012 murder of Ricky Martin.
The First Judicial Circuit had been pursuing a death sentence in its case against Rogers since 2015, when he pleaded guilty to the headline-grabbing murder. Eddins’ office abandoned the effort in January, though, after court rulings nullified the death penalty in Florida.
Eddins said at the time that Rogers’ case was “rather unique” in that the inmate was already serving a life sentence in prison without possibility of parole for a 2002 Volusia County armed robbery and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. The state had the luxury in Rogers’ case of waiting for death penalty sentencing procedures to be straightened out through legislation rather than seeking a new indictment against him.
“There is no downside to dismissing the case and waiting to file it again,” Eddins said at the time the original indictment was nullified. “We did this in this death penalty case because the sentencing procedure is muddled, and we want it to be crystal clear.”
The Florida Legislature this year voted to change a law that had required at least a 10-2 jury majority in order to impose the death penalty. Juries must now be unanimous in favor of death for the sentence to be handed down.
The new standard meets requirements established by rulings at the U.S. Supreme Court and Florida Supreme Court levels.
New indictments charging Rogers with murder and kidnapping in the Martin case were handed down in May, according to State Attorney's Office spokesman Greg Marcille. He was booked on the charges June 12.
“He’s been reindicted and now we’ll go through the process of reviewing the case to see if the death penalty is appropriate,” Marcille said. “We do expect we will seek the death penalty.”
Rogers pleaded guilty in September 2015 to murdering Martin, who was his cell mate at Santa Rosa Correctional Institution.
Martin was found March 20, 2012, inside his cell, tied down with bedding material and stripped of his clothing. He had been bludgeoned with a sock full of batteries and died three weeks later at Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola.
Martin’s killing occurred after word had filtered into the prison about the death of Trayvon Martin at the hands of neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman. Rogers was reported to have made comments along the lines of “this is for Trayvon Martin” as he beat Martin, a white man, unconscious.
The Miami Herald wrote an in-depth article about Martin’s death as part of a series that called into question a Florida correctional system that allowed the much smaller Martin, a non-violent offender, to be placed in a cell with Rogers, who had a history of committing acts of violence on other inmates.