- Michael A. Gordon has lost an appeal to the Florida Supreme Court, with his name already on Florida’s growing list of prisoners on death row
- Gordon appealed his conviction of two 2015 murders and two death sentences for the slayings of Patricia Moran and Patricia Royal
- Justices rejected Gordon’s arguments that prosecutors were motivated by race in the prosecution
- Under Governor Ron DeSantis, the death row list continues to grow. Just two executions have taken place on his watch, the fewest in 40 years
The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday rejected an appeal by a Death Row inmate convicted in the 2015 murders of two Polk County women after a police chase. Justices unanimously upheld Michael A. Gordon’s convictions and two death sentences in the murders of 72-year-old Patricia Moran and her 51-year-old daughter Patricia Royal.
Gordon was accused of murdering the women after being involved in a pawn-shop robbery that led to a police chase. The chase included people in a fleeing SUV firing shots at Haines City police officers, according to Thursday’s ruling. After the vehicle stopped in a Haines City subdivision, the occupants ran in different directions. A resident of the area reported hearing screaming from a house, where officers subsequently found Moran and Royal, whose throats had been slashed and who had suffered stab wounds, the ruling said.
Gordon also was accused of taking the victims’ car, backing out of the home’s garage and nearly hitting officers before he was captured.
Gordon, now 42, was convicted on numerous charges, including two counts of first-degree murder. The appeal involved issues such as a challenge to prosecutors’ decision to block a potential juror from the trial. Gordon, who is Black, argued that prosecutors were “impermissibly motivated by race” when they objected to the potential juror, who also was Black, according to the ruling.
The Supreme Court rejected the arguments in an opinion written by Justice John Couriel and joined fully by Chief Justice Carlos Muniz and Justices Charles Canady, Ricky Polston and Jamie Grosshans. Justice Jorge Labarga agreed with the result but did not fully sign onto the opinion.