Saturday, July 7, 2007

Killer's appeal turned down

July 7, 2007


- The state Supreme Court has rejected the latest appeal from a death-row inmate who claims he was wrongfully convicted of killing a fellow inmate at the Lake Correctional Institution nine years ago.

Allen W. Cox, 44, was convicted of first-degree murder in the 1998 stabbing death of Thomas "Venezuela" Baker Jr., 25, who was accused of taking $500 that Cox had stashed in his cell at the Clermont prison.

Cox claimed he was failed by his public defender.

But the high court unanimously ruled Cox was fairly tried, convicted and sentenced to death, making special mention of a "thorough and well-analyzed" ruling by Lake Circuit Judge T. Michael Johnson.

"Because the stakes are so high in death-penalty cases, this type of detailed order from the trial court greatly assists the [Supreme] Court's review," the justices noted.

Dubbed a career criminal by prosecutors, Cox received the death penalty, in part, because of his record of violent crimes, which include the rape and attempted sodomy of a convenience-store clerk and the beating of a man with a three-hole punch. A psychiatrist who evaluated Cox said he had no positive feelings toward others.

Cox can still challenge his conviction in federal court.

Willoughby Mariano, Walter Pacheco, Stephen Hudak and Adrian G. Uribarri of the Sentinel staff contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2007, Orlando Sentinel

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