Tag Archives: Tina Brown

New Florida Death Sentence: Tina Brown

From the Pensacola News Journal:

One of three woman accused of beating, burning and leaving a teenager for dead in Ensley in March 2010 was sentenced to death on Friday.

Tina Brown, 42, was convicted of first-degree murder in June for killing Audreanna Zimmerman, 19.

Zimmerman, a mother of two, was repeatedly beaten and hit with a stun gun before she was taken to a wooded area, doused with gasoline and set on fire, according to testimony in Brown’s trial. She died 16 days later in a Mobile hospital.

Following the guilty verdict, the jury unanimously recommended that Brown be sentenced to death rather than life in prison, the only other option.

Circuit Judge Gary Bergosh said he agreed with the jury’s recommendation because Zimmerman’s death was “heinous, atrocious and cruel” and was done in a premeditated manner.

The families of Brown and Zimmerman were not in court when the sentence was imposed.

Brown has apologized since she was convicted. And prior to her sentencing, she again said she was sorry and wanted Zimmerman’s family “to have closure.”

“I hope today they get it,” she said in a trembling voice.

During the penalty phase of her trial, Brown’s family members and doctors testified that she has lived a hard life full of drugs and sexual abuse.

That life, as well as the cocaine she ingested the day she killed Zimmerman, influenced her state of mind and the decisions she made, according to testimony.

Bergosh said he gave weight to some of these arguments, but they did not outweigh the especially cruel nature of the killing in his decision to impose the death penalty.

Bridgette Jensen, the prosecutor handling the case, said the State Attorney’s Office does not take seeking the death penalty lightly, and she believes it was appropriate in this case.

Bergosh noted that death penalty cases are reviewed by the state Supreme Court.

John Jay Gontarek, Brown’s attorney, also pointed that out during comments made after the sentencing.

“These cases are difficult cases, and, of course, we’re sympathetic to the family of the victim,” Gontarek said.

Death penalty cases often take years to make it through the legal system. Twenty-nine people have been executed in Florida since 2000, according to state records.

The last woman to be executed in Florida was Aileen Wuornos in 2002. She killed six men in north and central Florida in 1989 and 1990.

Brown’s daughter, Britnee Miller, 19, is awaiting sentencing after pleading no contest to a first-degree murder charge in the same case.

Another co-defendant, Heather Lee, received a 25-year prison sentence from Bergosh after pleading no contest to a second-degree murder charge. Lee testified during Brown’s trial.

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Latest From Florida’s Death Row

Florida Woman Facing Death Penalty Apologizes to Family: A Florida woman facing death for brutally murdering a teenager in 2010 made a tearful plea to a judge for her life today, saying she is so sorry for what happened. Tina Brown, 42, was convicted in June of killing 19-year-old Audreanna Zimmerman.

“I remember back, looking at the autopsy pictures,” Brown said. “They haunt me today.”

Brown will be sentenced on Sept. 28.

New Florida Death Sentence: Jury Unanimously Recommends Death Penalty for Delmer Smith: It took a jury just 30 minutes Tuesday afternoon to deliver a unanimous recommendation: Delmer Smith III, 41, should be sentenced to death by lethal injection for the fatal Aug. 3, 2009 bludgeoning of Kathleen Briles.

New Florida Death Sentence: Death Penalty in Fast-Food Slaying:  A judge this morning sentenced a Pensacola man who brutally murdered his boss at a restaurant during a robbery in 1998 to death. Timothy Hurst, 32, was convicted in April 2000 of first-degree murder in the killing of 28-year-old Cynthia Harrison. Harrison was Hurst’s manager when he worked at the Popeye’s on Nine Mile Road. Her body was found in the restaurant’s freezer.

New Florida Death Sentence: Central Florida Man Sentenced to Death for 2009 Fatal Drug Robbery:  A central Florida man has been sentenced to death for what authorities called a drug-related fatal home invasion. Following a jury’s recommendation, a Polk County judge sentenced 31-year-old Robert McCloud on Friday. McCloud was convicted in March of two counts of first-degree murder and other charges.

Death Penalty Sought in Killing of Cellmate at Santa Rosa Prison:  A prisoner currently serving a life sentence in the Santa Rosa Correctional Institution was indicted by a grand jury Thursday in the death of his cellmate, and prosecutors are now seeking the death penalty. Shawn Rogers, 32, is charged with first-degree murder and aggravated kidnapping in the death of 24-year-old Ricky Martin. Martin died at Sacred Heart Hospital in April.

Fla. Supreme Court Upholds Death Sentence for Man Who Shot a Florida Highway Patrol Trooper:  The Florida Supreme Court is rejecting an appeal from a man who shot and killed a highway patrol trooper more than five years ago. The high court Thursday unanimously upheld the conviction and death sentence of Joshua Lee Altersberger. He convicted of killing Sgt. Nick Sottile during a January 2007 traffic stop in Highlands County.

Drifter Appeals Death Penalty in Florida Decapitation:  A lawyer for a drifter who was convicted of beheading two women and killing an elderly couple in the forests of three Southern states asked the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday to reverse his conviction and death sentence in the only one of the slayings that resulted in a death sentence.

A Tallahassee judge last year sentenced Gary Hilton to death for the murder of Cheryl Dunlap based on a unanimous jury recommendation. The 46-year-old nurse from Crawfordville was killed in north Florida’s Apalachicola National Forest.

Hilton’s lawyer focused his oral argument on comments made during the trial’s penalty phase by the state’s expert mental health witness.

Car Lot Murderer Asks Judge for Death Penalty: William Davis III, the convicted murderer who told a Seminole County jury last month that he wanted the death penalty, today took the witness stand and asked the judge for the same thing.

“I cannot sit here in good conscience and knowing what I’ve done, what everybody here is aware of, I can’t sit here and ask you with a straight face to give me life in prison. I can’t and I won’t. Quite frankly, I think that it’s rather asinine for anybody in this position to actually be given the alternative of life in prison,” he said.

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Jury Recommends Death For Florida Woman

There could be a new Florida death sentence soon, and what makes this one unusual is that the offender is a woman. Women on death row are definitely not the norm and apparently there are so many questions about them that they warrant their own section on the Florida Department of Corrections site. There are currently 4 women on Florida’s death row.

The woman facing the possibility of becoming the fifth is 41-year-old Tina Brown, who was convicted of first-degree murder in the March 2010 death of of 19-year-old Audreanna Zimmerman. Yesterday the jury unanimously recommended a death sentence, which is interesting when you consider that it only takes a majority vote of 7-5 for a recommendation of death. According to a story in the Pensacola News Journal, prosecutor Bridgette Jensen said the unanimous decision “says a lot about the nature of the crime itself.”

The final decision now goes to Circuit Judge Gary Bergosh. He has the final say in whether to agree with the jury’s recommendation or overrule it. However, it’s very unusual for a Florida judge to use their judicial override, so I think it’s safe to say Brown will soon be joining the other 402 inmates awaiting execution on Florida’s death row.

From the Pensacola News Journal:

A 12-member jury unanimously recommended Tuesday the execution of an Ensley woman convicted of murdering a teenager.

Tina Brown, 41, was convicted of first-degree murder Thursday in the March 2010 death of of 19-year-old Audreanna Zimmerman.

Brown, her daughter and a neighbor were arrested after beating the teen and repeatedly attacking Zimmerman with a stun gun before taking her to a wooded area, setting her on fire and leaving her for dead. She later died in the burn ward of a Mobile hospital.

As Circuit Judge Gary Bergosh read the jury’s recommendation, reached after about 90 minutes of deliberations, Brown barely flinched.

The final decision is up to Bergosh, who has not set a sentencing date. He will hold at least one more hearing for attorneys to present any additional evidence or arguments.

The courtroom, which was filled with Brown’s family members, as well as attorneys, court personnel and spectators, remained silent.

Brown, whose face had perked up when given the chance to visit with her family, remained emotionless as she was taken from the courtroom in handcuffs.

A death recommendation took only a 7-5 vote. Prosecutor Bridgette Jensen said the unanimous decision “says a lot about the nature of the crime itself.”

“We love her and are still praying for her,” said Deante Miller, Brown’s son, said after the decision.

Understanding

In an attempt to persuade jurors to recommend a life sentence, Wilson spent most of her closing arguments detailing the horrific life her client has lived.

Brown’s upbringing was full of drugs and physical, sexual and emotional abuse by her father and other family members and partners. She has three children.

“Tina Brown is so much more than a person who committed this crime,” Wilson said. “She’s a human being.”

Wilson, who at times used photos of Brown when she was a child, asked jurors to put Zimmerman’s murder in the context of Brown’s life of abuse and drugs.

“We’re not asking you to find it justifiable. We’re just asking you to understand,” Wilson said.

Brown did not testify at the trial. There has been no explanation for the murder, beyond several theories about some sort of feud over a man or a previous altercation between Zimmerman and Brown’s family.

‘What is more evil?’

During her closing arguments, Jensen recalled the testimony of J.C. Coleman, Brown’s uncle.

“When Tina is not caught up in that mess, she is a beautiful person,” he testified.

“What is she when she is caught up in that mess?” Jensen said. “On March 24, ladies and gentlemen, a murderer.”

Jensen implored the jury to recall Zimmerman’s gruesome death and the planning that went into it.

“What is more evil than pouring gasoline on someone’s body and lighting them on fire?” she asked.

Finally, Jensen also asked the jury to consider aggravating factors, including the especially heinous and cruel nature of the crime.

“Tina Brown must be held accountable for her actions,” Jensen said. “The punishment should fit the crime.”

Three sentencings

Britnee Miller, Brown’s 18-year-old daughter, and Heather Lee, 29, her neighbor, also face life sentences after pleading guilty to murder charges.

Jensen hopes Brown, Miller and Lee can be sentenced on the same day, so Zimmerman’s father, Sammy Rejino, can be present.

Rejino, who attended most of the trial, traveled home to Lubbock, Texas, on Monday afternoon.

Miller and Brown’s sentencing date is next month, but Jensen and other attorneys said they expect a delay.

Related:

Photo gallery of the Tina Brown verdict

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