Timothy Fletcher Murders Grandmother In Florida

Timothy Fletcher was sentenced to death by the State of Florida for the murder of his step Grandmother Helen Googe

According to court documents Timothy Fletcher and Doni Ray Brown would break out of a jail, steal a truck and head to the home of Fletcher’s step Grandmother who would be murdered

Timothy Fletcher would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death

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Where Is Timothy Fletcher Now

Timothy Fletcher is incarcerated at Union Correctional Institution

Timothy Fletcher Case

On April 14 and 15, 2009, Timothy Fletcher was lawfully in custody at the Putnam County Jail. On the evening of April 14, 2009, and into the early morning hours of April 15, 2009, Fletcher and his cellmate, Doni Ray Brown, escaped their jail cell pursuant to a previously-discussed plan. Following their eventual re-arrest, Fletcher was interrogated by a detective with the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office and an investigator with the State Attorney’s Office. During the interrogation, Fletcher recounted the details of the escape and subsequent crimes.

Fletcher explained that on his return from a court hearing on April 2, 2009, he removed a car jack from the jail transportation vehicle, which he concealed in his pants. Nearly two weeks later, on April 14, 2009, after another trip to and from the courthouse, he appropriated the handle for the jack in the same manner. Fletcher explained they executed the escape because he had just been sentenced to ten years’ incarceration.1

That evening, Fletcher and Brown used the jack and jack handle to pry the toilet away from the wall of their cell, which created a hole through which they could escape. Just after the 2 a.m. cell check, Fletcher and Brown escaped through the hole. They then crawled under a fence, climbed over another fence, and through a gap in a third fence. This brought them to a field next to the jail, which they crossed to reach the highway.

They searched for a vehicle at various properties along the highway. First, they located a Z71 pickup truck. After breaking the window, he and Brown entered the vehicle, but Fletcher was unsuccessful as he attempted to start the engine. They searched for a second vehicle and located an unlocked van. However, they were also unable to start that vehicle, so they searched for a third vehicle. They discovered an unlocked Ford pickup truck with the keys in it in a fenced-in yard of a business. Brown struck the gate with the pickup and knocked it down.

As they had previously planned, Fletcher and Brown drove to the house of Helen Googe, the ex-wife of Fletcher’s grandfather, because it was the closest place where he and Brown believed they could acquire money. Fletcher believed that Googe kept money in a safe at her house, and he had knowledge of her financial status.

At this point during his post-arrest statement, Fletcher provided varying accounts of subsequent events. In his initial account, Fletcher asserted that Googe voluntarily admitted him into the house, and Brown followed. Fletcher described altercations between Brown and Googe that ultimately led to Googe’s death. He asserted that, other than one open-handed slap, he was either absent from the room during the altercations or nothing more than a passive bystander. However, Fletcher renounced this version of events after a detective informed him that fingernail scrapings had been collected from Googe to test for DNA evidence. The officer observed that Fletcher had scratch marks on his hands and arms, whereas Brown did not, and asked Fletcher if there was any reason why his DNA would be found under Googe’s fingernails. Fletcher responded that it should not be, but also stated that he had held Googe down at one point. The detective asked when this occurred, and Fletcher responded, “I really don’t even want to tell you everything that happened, to be honest with you.” After some discussion, Fletcher admitted, “I’ll be honest with you, I kind of lied to you a little bit,” and then presented a different version of the events that transpired at Googe’s home. This second description matched the description provided by Brown, except with the roles reversed—both Fletcher and Brown asserted that the other committed the actual strangulation of Googe.

Fletcher confessed that he and Brown entered the house through a firewood door that provided an opening to pass wood into the house from the outside. Fletcher was aware that Googe had firearms on the walls of her house; while in jail, he and Brown discussed using a gun to scare and rob Googe. After they entered the house, Fletcher removed an unloaded revolver from the wall above the bathroom door and gave it to Brown. Upon retrieving the gun, Fletcher and Brown changed into clothes belonging to Fletcher’s grandfather that they found at the house. Fletcher showed Brown the safe, which was located inside a closet.

Fletcher located Googe’s purse, which contained a credit card, car keys, and $37. Fletcher placed the purse in the closet with the discarded prison clothing. Fletcher and Brown then approached the bedroom where Googe slept, and Brown entered the room. Fletcher had tied a t-shirt around his face so that Googe would not recognize him, and Brown donned a blue and red baseball cap that he pulled down over his face. Fletcher intended to remain outside of the room until Brown indicated that Googe was restrained. Brown approached the bed, pointed the gun at Googe’s face, and woke her up. Brown then said, “[t]his is a stickup, roll over and you’ll be all right.” Googe sat up and screamed that she was frightened at least four times. She asked, “why are you doing this?” Brown told her that nothing would happen to her as long as she complied with his instructions. Brown then signaled for Fletcher, who entered the room, pushed Googe onto the bed, and tied her hands with a phone cord.

Googe informed them that she did not have any money, except maybe $40 in her purse. Brown asked what was in the safe, and she asserted that she did not have a safe. After Brown informed Googe that he knew she had a safe, she repeated that she had no money. During this interaction, Googe attempted to get out of the bed and her hands became untied. While describing these events during his post-arrest statement, Fletcher commented, “[s]he wasn’t listening—she didn’t want to listen.”

After the cord became untied, Brown held the gun against Googe’s head and pushed her back onto the bed. Fletcher then said, “you better fucking listen, we don’t want to hurt you, just you better fucking listen.” They continued to argue with Googe and demanded to know the personal identification number to her credit card, but she stated that she did not have one.

Googe jumped out of the bed, but Brown pushed her back down, put the gun on a dresser, and climbed on top of her. He held her down with one hand on her neck and the other on her chest and told her, “[b]itch, this ain’t how it works.” Googe was kicking her legs, and Fletcher picked up the gun, pressed it against her leg, and said, “[y]ou better stop moving your fucking legs or else I’m going to shoot you.”

Googe then went with Fletcher and Brown to the safe. However, she said that she needed her glasses, so Brown led her back to the bedroom. Once there, Googe claimed she needed to use the restroom. She entered the restroom and tried to slam the door shut. Brown pushed the door open, and Googe hit him with a hairdryer. Brown yelled for Fletcher, who had remained by the safe. When Fletcher entered the bedroom, Brown had Googe pinned to the bed with a pillow over her face, and Googe was attempting to fight back. After Fletcher entered the bedroom, the three returned to the closet that contained the safe.

Googe opened the safe with her hands visibly shaking. Brown and Fletcher looked for money, but did not find any. Brown pointed the gun at Googe and asked where the money was. Googe repeated that she did not have any money, except for some money in her purse.

Googe then attempted to rise, but Brown pushed her down to the floor. With Googe in a fetal position, Brown wrapped his arm around her neck and mouthed to Fletcher that he was going to kill her. Fletcher stated that he watched, but otherwise did nothing. After several minutes, Brown said it was not working and released her. He mouthed to Fletcher that he would break Googe’s neck, then grabbed her chin and head and attempted to do so, but failed.

Fletcher, Brown, and Googe then moved towards the den. Fletcher secured his arm around Googe’s neck, and Brown attempted to pick Googe up by her feet. Brown lifted one of Googe’s legs off the ground, but was unable to hold the other because she kicked at him. During the struggle, Googe scratched Fletcher, who called her a bitch and released her. When Googe attempted to rise from the ground, Fletcher struck her in the head three times—once on the cheek and twice high on the side of her head—with an open hand. Fletcher explained during his post-arrest statement that he struck her

[b]ecause she was—she was being ignorant․ If she wouldn’t have been being like that, she wouldn’t have never got hit or nothing. She was being—․ She was—she was ready to fight. She wanted to fight. She didn’t want to just—over $37. All she had to do was just be quiet and give up the $37 and tell—say what the PIN number is to her credit card and she would have just got tied up and left.

Fletcher stated that Brown positioned himself on top of Googe with his knees on her arms to hold her down, and choked her with both hands. Googe began kicking, so Fletcher held her legs down at the knees. Googe tried to speak, but could only make choking noises. When Googe stopped fighting, Fletcher let her go and entered another room, where he took a jewelry box. Fletcher claimed that when he returned to the den, Brown had released Googe, who was laying on her side making snoring noises. Fletcher watched her while Brown retrieved a plastic storage bag from the kitchen. Brown placed the bag over Googe’s head and secured it by tying a phone cord around Googe’s neck. The bag became foggy. Fletcher stated that he left the room, and when he returned, Brown informed him that Googe was dead.

Fletcher and Brown then departed from the house. Fletcher drove Googe’s Lincoln Town Car, and Brown drove the stolen pickup truck. They discarded the pickup in the woods a short distance from Googe’s house. The plastic bag, the telephone cord, the prison clothing, the purse, and the wallet were discarded in a retention pond.

Fletcher then described the remainder of their flight through Georgia and Tennessee, to his aunt and uncle’s house in Kentucky, and then their return to Florida, where they were re-arrested.

The evidence presented during trial with respect to the discovery of the escape and Googe’s murder corroborated the description of events given by Fletcher, with the exception of who strangled Googe. After the officers discovered that Fletcher and Brown were missing, a K–9 officer and his trained canine were dispatched to search for Fletcher’s and Brown’s scents. The canine detected a scent outside of the barbed-wire fence that separated the sheriff’s office and the field. This scent led across the highway and terminated near a dance studio. The owner of the Z71 pickup truck—the first vehicle that Fletcher stated he and Brown attempted to steal—had left his truck outside of the studio to advertise that it was for sale. He received a phone call from the sheriff’s office on April 15 that his vehicle had been broken into, and he travelled to the studio, where he discovered that the passenger window of the extended cab had been smashed. Additionally, the steering column and ignition had been tampered with, as though someone had tried to start the vehicle without a key.

On that same morning at approximately 9 a.m., the owner of a home and business across from the jail discovered that the ignition switch to his blue GMC van was broken and locked into position, also as if someone had forcibly attempted to start the vehicle without a key. He walked over to the sheriff’s office and told officers about his vehicle. A crime scene technician observed muddy footprints that led from the dance studio towards the van.

Additionally on that morning, the owner of a tire business located across from the jail discovered that the gates of the business were lying flat on the driveway as though they had been run over. He also noticed that his Ford F150 was missing. He reported this to the sheriff’s office. The truck was later discovered in the woods near Googe’s residence.

Meanwhile, at approximately 6:40 that morning, a deputy with the Clay County Sheriff’s Office observed a four-door gold Lincoln with Putnam County license plates while he drove home from work. He became suspicious because nothing was open in the area, he rarely saw Putnam County plates there, and his office had received a “be on the lookout” for two escapees from the Putnam County Jail. He wrote down the tag number and accelerated to examine the individuals in the vehicle. He was able to see the passenger, who was wearing a blue baseball cap with a red bill. The officer continued home, and later ran the plate number through the National Crime Information Center database. He discovered that the vehicle was owned by Googe, who he knew had been married to Fletcher’s grandfather. He recalled that Fletcher was one of the escaped prisoners, and contacted the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office. Later that day, he saw a television broadcast with photographs of Fletcher and Brown, and he recognized Brown as the passenger in the Lincoln.

Because of the observation by the Clay County deputy, a warrants officer with the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office was asked to make contact with Googe. When the officer arrived at the property, the Lincoln was not in the carport. The officer knocked on the door and, when nobody responded, walked around the house knocking on doors and windows. He travelled to a nearby grocery store to ask if anyone had seen Googe, her Lincoln, or a truck matching the one missing from the tire business. Nobody had seen Googe or the missing vehicles, and the officer returned to the property. When two other officers arrived, they entered the home and found Googe dead.

A crime lab analyst with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) located pliers above the firewood door that created an entrance into the home. The lock on the door was still attached, but the hasp was broken. Inside the home, the analyst found an open jewelry box on the floor of the study. The interior walls of the family room were decorated with a sword, knives, and a revolver. The weaponry was supported by wooden pegs, but one set of pegs was unadorned. In the master bedroom, he found a phone set on the floor with the cord broken off, and a hairdryer in the bathroom. Near Googe’s body, he found part of a broken eyeglasses chain. The remainder of the chain, as well as the eyeglasses, were found near the safe.

A detective with the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office contacted Googe’s credit card company and obtained a subpoena for records showing any transactions on April 15, 2009. Two transactions occurred on that date, one at a Florida gas station, and another at a Georgia gas station.

Law enforcement learned that after Brown and Fletcher left Googe’s home, they proceeded to the home of Brown’s aunt. She allowed Brown into the house and he used her computer to look up directions, which he wrote down. Brown then departed, and his aunt testified that she saw him enter the passenger’s seat of a vehicle resembling a tan Cadillac with a Caucasian driver. She did not observe any scratches or other physical injuries on Brown.

The FDLE crime lab analyst who processed the Lincoln found a piece of paper with handwritten directions. The paper had fingerprints and handprints that were identified as belonging to Brown. A soda bottle was also discovered, which had a fingerprint that was identified as belonging to Brown. Brown’s fingerprints were also identified on a handbook and a plastic shopping bag found in the vehicle.

The FDLE also analyzed swabs taken from the Lincoln for DNA evidence. The analyst found a complete DNA profile on the swab taken from the headlight switch and an interior door handle that matched Fletcher’s DNA profile. The probability that the DNA profile would match another individual is approximately one in 490 trillion Caucasians, one in 13 quadrillion African Americans, and one in 1.1 quadrillion Southeastern Hispanics. Two soda bottles found in the car were also analyzed for DNA evidence, and the analyst found mixed DNA profiles on each bottle. With respect to the first bottle, Brown was a possible contributor, but no determination could be made as to whether Fletcher was a possible contributor. More than 99% of Caucasians, African Americans, and Southeastern Hispanics could be excluded as contributors to the mixed DNA profile. With respect to the second bottle, Brown and Fletcher were both possible contributors to the mixed profile, and again more than 99% of Caucasian, African American, and Southeastern Hispanic individuals could be excluded as contributors. With respect to the fingernail scrapings taken from Googe, the analyst found a partial DNA profile that matched the known profile of Fletcher. The probability that the partial DNA profile would match another individual is approximately one in 260 million Caucasians, one in 3.6 billion African Americans, and one in 580 million Southeastern Hispanics.

The medical examiner determined that the cause of Googe’s death was asphyxia due to manual strangulation. He identified fingertip contusions2 under the chin, as well as hemorrhages in the neck area. The injuries were consistent with a person grabbing Googe around the neck and squeezing with his or her thumbs down onto her neck. Additionally, the cartilage of Googe’s larynx was fractured and surrounded with contusions and hemorrhages, and the thyroid cartilage was fractured. The medical examiner found a contusion on Googe’s left upper eyelid, which was the result of blunt trauma, as well as a contusion on the right side of her scalp. The scalp contusion was superficial, and there was no underlying skull fracture, bleeding into her brain, or subdural or subarachnoid hemorrhages. On her right arm, he found fingertip contusions, which indicated that she was restrained by someone. Because Googe was elderly, little force would be necessary to cause this kind of bruising. There was also a contusion and ligature marks on Googe’s left wrist and a superficial laceration on her right forearm that most likely resulted from being held by the wrist. The medical examiner also found abrasions on her knees.

The medical examiner determined that all of Googe’s injuries occurred pre-death and during the same time frame. Because there was no significant trauma to the head that would cause a loss of consciousness, he also concluded that the injuries occurred while Googe was conscious. Significantly, there was no hemorrhaging at the top of the brain, despite the fact that Googe was elderly and would bleed more easily.

On May 25, 2012, a jury found Fletcher guilty of the first-degree murder of Googe, two counts of grand theft of a motor vehicle, home-invasion robbery, two counts of burglary, and escape. During the penalty phase, the State presented records of Fletcher’s commitment to the Florida Department of Corrections (DOC) for a previous conviction. The State also presented the victim impact statement of Googe’s daughter, read by Googe’s brother.

https://caselaw.findlaw.com/court/fl-supreme-court/1705651.html

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