The Florida Supreme Court on Monday denied the latest appeal filed by condemned killer David Alan Gore, which means his execution remains on schedule for 6 p.m. Thursday at Florida State Prisonin Starke.
Gore, 58, is under a death warrant Gov. Rick Scott signed for the July 26, 1983, first-degree murder of Lynn Elliott, 17, of Vero Beach. He also is serving several life prison terms after pleading guilty to killing two women and three girls in Indian River County between 1981 and 1983.
In seeking to stop his execution, his attorneys still may appeal his case in federal court.
In a 24-page unanimous opinion, the state Supreme Court upheld a trial court ruling issued in March that denied the serial killer’s request for a hearing to present evidence related to several legal claims raised in an effort to stop his execution.
The opinion followed oral arguments held April 4 in which Gore’s attorney told the justices that Gore’s post-conviction attorney failed to sufficiently argue that Gore had received ineffective counsel at his original trial.
Defense attorney Martin J. McClain based his argument on the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling this year in a recent U.S. Supreme Court case, which he said found a defendant has to have an effective attorney in the appeal process to show ineffective counsel at trial.
The justices though, ruled that “Gore is not entitled to relief from this court” under that U.S. Supreme Court decision.
“No motion for rehearing will be entertained by this Court,” the justices ordered in Gore’s case.
Assistant State Attorney Ryan Butler said from here, Gore has two appeal options in federal court.
“He can appeal the Florida Supreme Court’s decision directly to the U.S. Supreme Court. He can also file a petition for a federal Habeas (Corpus) in front of a U.S. District judge,” he said. “And that argument would be that the Florida Supreme Court made a mistake and unreasonably applied established federal law, and that he’s entitled to some kind of remedy.”
Gore’s attorneys can pursue both steps at the same time. Whatever track is taken, Butler speculated Gore’s lawyers will act as soon as Tuesday in filing briefs.
“The federal courts don’t like it when they procrastinate, especially when the case is under an active death warrant with an execution scheduled for Thursday,” Butler said.
If Gore’s attorneys file a petition in U.S. District Court and they receive an unfavorable ruling, they can appeal it to the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeal in Atlanta, and ultimately to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The steps could cause a delay in Gore’s execution by a few hours, or longer.
“It could be a couple of hours or into next week,” Butler said, “depending on what the federal courts do.”