This article was originally published as “Fla. High Court Denies Death Row Appeal” on Miamiherald.com
By James L. Rosica for the Associated Press
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A man on death row for kidnapping and murdering a Pinellas County girl 33 years ago lost his latest appeal on Tuesday.
The Florida Supreme Court denied Larry Eugene Mann‘s request for post-conviction relief.
Gov. Rick Scott had signed a death warrant for Mann on March 1. Mann, 59, is set to be executed by lethal injection at Florida State Prison near Raiford on April 10.
The death penalty is “the law of our land,” Scott said on Tuesday in response to the court’s opinion. “And I’m going to continue to comply with and enforce the laws of Florida.”
Mann’s lawyers could not be immediately reached.
He was convicted and sentenced to death for the kidnapping and first-degree murder of 10-year-old Elisa Nelson. Mann smashed her head with a piece of concrete-encased steel pipe, court records show.
Mann’s death sentence was overturned once because the trial court made a legal error. He was resentenced to death and the Supreme Court then affirmed that sentence.
Gov. Bob Graham signed Mann’s first death warrant in 1986. Mann has appealed in state and federal courts since then.
In the most recent appeal, Mann’s lawyers made several arguments. One was that Florida’s sentencing system “violates evolving standards of decency” because it lets jurors recommend a death sentence by a simple majority vote and does not require them to be unanimous.
The Supreme Court, in a 6-0 opinion, disagreed and found Mann’s arguments “without merit.” Justice Peggy Quince was recused from the case.
According to court records, Elisa Nelson was riding her bike to school on Nov. 4, 1980, but was late because of a dentist appointment. She carried a note from her mom.
She never made it to school and her bicycle was found later that day. That same day, Mann tried to kill himself by slitting his wrist and was hospitalized. He later told police he had “done something stupid.”
The next day, Elisa’s body was found in an orange grove. She had died from a skull fracture.
On Nov. 8, Mann’s wife was getting his glasses out of his pickup truck and found the note Elisa’s mother had written. It had blood stains on it.
The wife called police and Mann was arrested on Nov. 10.