According to court documents Joshua Nelson and a teenage accomplice decided to rob their acquaintance Tommy Owens. Nelson would rob Tommy Owens before beating him to death with a baseball bat
Joshua Nelson would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death
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Joshua Nelson Now
DC Number: 989102
Name: NELSON, JOSHUA D
Birth Date: 01/16/1977
Initial Receipt Date: 12/10/1996
Current Facility: UNION C.I.
Current Custody: MAXIMUM
Current Release Date: DEATH SENTENCE
Joshua Nelson Case
he evidence presented at trial established the following facts. Nelson and Keith Brennan wanted to leave the city of Cape Coral. The two devised a plan to murder Tommy Owens and steal his car. Nelson and Brennan knew that Owens kept a baseball bat in his car. On the evening of March 10, 1995, Owens was lured under false pretenses to a remote street. Nelson and Brennan were able to convince Owens to exit his car, whereupon Nelson hit Owens with the bat. After a number of blows, Owens eventually fell to the ground. Nelson and Brennan tied Owens’ legs and arms. Owens pleaded for his life, stating that the two could take his car. After a brief discussion, Nelson and Brennan concluded that to avoid being caught, they should kill Owens. Brennan attempted to slice Owens’ throat with a box cutter. Owens was not unconscious when the attacks began and he begged Nelson to hit him again with the bat so as to knock him unconscious before the stabbing continued. Nelson did as Owens requested and Brennan continued to attack Owens with the box cutter. Nelson and Brennan also continued to strike Owens a number of times with the bat. The two eventually dragged Owens’ body to nearby bushes, where Owens later died.
Nelson and Brennan picked up Tina Porth and Misty Porth and the four left the city in Owens’ car. After stopping in Daytona Beach, the four left the state and drove to New Jersey. At different times during the trip, Nelson and Brennan informed Tina and Misty that they had murdered Owens. Both Tina and Misty testified at trial.
Nelson and Brennan were apprehended by law enforcement officers in New Jersey. Nelson gave a video- and audio-taped confession. In the confession, Nelson detailed his account of the murder, both at the crime scene and at the place where the bat was recovered. The video-taped confession was played to the jury. Additionally, an analyst for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement testified that blood stains on Nelson’s shoes, the box cutter, and a pair of underwear that the box cutter was wrapped in all matched Owens’ DNA.
Joshua Nelson was found guilty of first-degree murder and robbery with a deadly weapon. At the penalty phase, the jury recommenced death by a twelve-zero vote. The trial court found three aggravators: (1) the murder was committed in the course of a robbery; (2) the murder was especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel (HAC); and (3) the murder was committed in a cold, calculated, and premeditated manner without any pretense of legal or moral justification (CCP). The trial court also found that one statutory mitigator (age of eighteen at the time of the crime) and fifteen nonstatutory mitigators 1 were established. The statutory mitigator was given great weight. The first nonstatutory mitigator was given substantial weight, and the remaining nonstatutory mitigators were given from moderate to little weight. The trial court concluded that Nelson failed to establish the following statutory mitigators: (1) that he acted under the effect of extreme emotional disturbance, (2) that he was an accomplice with minor participation, (3) that he acted under the domination of another person, and (4) that his capacity to appreciate the criminality of his conduct was impaired. The trial court followed the jury’s recommendation and imposed the death penalty for the first-degree murder conviction. The trial court sentenced Nelson to 189 months in prison for the robbery conviction.