DeFUNIAK SPRINGS — Thomas Ford McCoy, who in 2012 was convicted and sentenced to die for ambushing and fatally shooting Coca-Cola service technician Curtis Brown, will remain on death row.
Walton County Circuit Judge Kelvin Wells ruled Thursday that McCoy was not entitled to a re-hearing of the penalty phase of the trial in which a jury voted 11-1 to recommend he be executed.
Wells originally had vacated the death sentence because the jury vote to recommend was not unanimous, according to a news release from the State Attorney‘s Office.
But he decided at a status conference that McCoy‘s conviction in Tampa for aggravated assault on law enforcement officers gave him sufficient grounds to uphold the original sentence, the news release said.
After the 2009 killing of Brown on the DeFuniak Springs campus of Northwest Florida Sate College, McCoy fled to Tampa, where he got into a gunfight with law officers who tried to apprehend him.
Wells based his decision Thursday on the recent Florida Supreme Court ruling in the case of State v. Poole. Justices stated in that ruling that a unanimous verdict on a first-degree murder case is not necessary if a jury had unanimously found the defendant guilty of a secondary offense.
“Wells concluded that the defendant’s conviction by a jury in Tampa, Florida, for aggravated assault on law enforcement officers satisfied the Poole requirement of a unanimous finding of an aggravator,” the news release said.
Wells said at the hearing that he would reinstate McCoy’s death sentence and that he would enter a written order to that effect, the release said.
McCoy, who was shot six times in the standoff with police, pleaded guilty in 2011 to Brown‘s killing.
According to the news release and reports from the time, McCoy had worked as a service technician for Coca-Cola and had “developed significant animosity toward his co-workers.”
Ray Jackson, one of those co-workers, was McCoy‘s primary target, and he tried several times to lure Jackson to the NWF State campus in DeFuniak Springs.
Brown showed up to answer a service call placed by McCoy, and McCoy, “while disappointed that Jackson did not respond, stated that he ‘reprogrammed’ and made a decision he hated Brown, and decided to kill him,” the news release said.