Luis Gonzalez mug shot
Luis Gonzalez was tried and convicted for Manslaughter with a Weapon, and Failing to Render Aid in an accident involving death. Both are 1st Degree Felonies, with penalties of up to 3o years. Judge Edward Volz maxed him out, 30 years on each count, to be served consecutively. In Florida, prisoners must serve at least 85% of their sentence before release, so that is 51 years before the possibility of release, less any credit for time he already served. The fact that he fled the country for several years before being brought to justice likely did not favorably influence the judge at sentencing, nor did the violent nature of the death. While the state proceeded on a manslaughter theory, there was evidence that he backed over her, striking her a second time before driving off. An appeal will naturally follow.
For several weeks in 1996, a gang of young men ran off a crime spree in Lee County. That spree culminated in the shooting of a local teacher, and multiple convictions for those responsible.
Kevin Foster was convicted and sentenced to death for his part in the murder of Mark Schwebes, a teacher at Riverdale High School. Foster was the shooter, killing Schwebes with a shotgun at close range after ambushing him; and he was the leader of a loose-knit gang known as the Lords of Chaos. After trial, Foster was sentenced to death, and the conviction upheld on direct appeal. Foster v. State, 778 So.2d 906 (Fla. 2000).
After the appeals were upheld, Mr. Foster filed a post-conviction motion, asking that the results be thrown out and that he be granted a new trial, based on allegations of ineffective assistance of counsel. That motion was denied by Judge Edward Volz after a 3-day hearing in 2011. By rule, the appeal went straight to the Supreme court, which upheld the ruling, and the death sentence, in a written opinion today. The opinion, which you can read in full here, is interesting, as it summarizes much of what was heard at the evidentiary hearings, including claims that Mr. Foster’s attorney was impaired due to Parkinson’s disease, and that his mother was sleeping with one of the investigators on the case. There are still some final appellate procedures that Foster will likely pursue, so it will be some time before his death sentence can be carried out.