BARTOW | A jury recommended Tuesday morning that a 28-year-old Winter Haven man with a history of robberies should be executed for fatally shooting a convenience store clerk.
Jurors spent about 30 minutes deliberating before reaching the narrowest of margins, a 7–5 vote, in favor of imposing the death penalty against Jamail Hogan.
Circuit Judge J. Michael Hunter must give the jury’s recommendation “great weight” under Florida law. Lawyers will be able to provide additional information and arguments to the judge at a March 4 hearing.
The same jury found Hogan guilty last week of first-degree murder in the death of Remesh Desai and attempted armed robbery.
Desai, 44, was shot in the torso during a robbery attempt Dec. 2, 2005, at Bill’s Market off U.S. 17 and Bomber Road in Bartow. He didn’t die until weeks after the shooting from a blood clot.
One of Hogan’s lawyers, Karen Meeks, said the death penalty is reserved for the “worst of the worst cases.” She argued Hogan shouldn’t be executed but should be sentenced to life in prison without parole.
But prosecutors offered two aggravating circumstances as the legal basis for a death sentence. Desai’s murder was committed for financial gain, and Hogan has a history of violent crimes.
Hogan has been sentenced to more than 240 years in prison on federal charges related to a series of robberies in late 2005, including the Bill’s Market attempted robbery.
Both Hogan and his 23-year-old stepbrother, Bryan Smith, have been convicted of taking part in the armed robbery attempt at Bill’s Market.
In an October trial, a jury acquitted Smith of first-degree murder in Desai’s death, but found him guilty of taking part in the attempted armed robbery.
Circuit Judge Dennis Maloney sentenced Smith to 15 years in state prison.
Smith has also been sentenced to 140 years in federal prison for participating in the robbery spree with Hogan.
The stepbrothers are sons of two Polk County Sheriff’s Office employees, Capt. James Hogan and Lucretia Hogan, who is a detention deputy.
During Monday’s penalty phase, Hogan’s father took the witness stand to talk about his son’s childhood. James Hogan described the rough breakup between himself and Jamail Hogan’s mother.
A forensic psychologist testified how the acrimony between Jamail Hogan’s parents negatively impacted him.
The expert also testified that Jamail Hogan experiences anxiety and depression. Jamail Hogan also abused alcohol and marijuana.
At trial, the defense argued Desai’s death might not be a homicide and suggested Desai’s diabetes could have caused the fatal blood clot.
Jamail Hogan testified he was home at the time of the shooting and later borrowed Smith’s car that evening, but had no idea the murder weapon or other evidence was inside.
Hogan was stopped by deputies for speeding hours after the shooting.
Inside the car, investigators recovered a variety of evidence, including the .380-caliber pistol later determined to have fired the bullet that struck Desai.
Source : The ledger