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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Rape
Number of victims: 3
Date of murders: June 1, 1989
Date of arrest: September 24, 1992
Date of birth: October 11, 1946
Victims profile: Joan Rogers, 32, and her two daughters, Michelle, 17, and Christe, 14
Method of murder: Asphyxiation from the ropes around their necks, or from drowning
Location: Pinellas County, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on November 4, 1994. Executed by lethal injection in Florida on November 15, 2011

photo gallery 1

photo gallery 2


Florida Supreme Court


opinion 84812

opinion SC01-1468


United States Court of Appeals
For the Eleventh Circuit


opinion 06-11190


Angels & Demons
By Thomas French - St. Petersburg Times


chapter 1: sunset

chapter 2: haunted

chapter 3: neighbors


chapter 4: the tin man

chapter 5: silver bullet


chapter 6: night stories

chapter 7: the magic kingdom



Chandler was convicted in 1994 of killing 36-year-old Joan Rogers and her daughters, Christe and Michelle, who were 14 and 17, and dumping their bound bodies in Tampa bay.

The three were on their first vacation and making their way home to their small farming community of Willshire, Ohio, after their Florida trip. Authorities concluded that the women met Chandler on June 1, 1989, when they stopped and asked him for directions to their Tampa area motel.

Chandler, who had ties to Ohio, apparently sweet-talked the women into going on his boat, police said. Once aboard, Chandler bound the victims' arms and legs, tied concrete blocks to ropes around their necks and then threw them overboard, according to detectives. Despite the concrete blocks, the bodies surfaced and were found days later, naked from the waist down.

Detectives didn't crack the case for three years. Two things helped make the arrest: a tourist brochure with Chandler's handwriting was found in Rogers' car, and Chandler looked similar to a composite sketch of a suspect wanted in an earlier unsolved assault against a Canadian woman who was raped aboard a boat in Tampa Bay.

Authorities took the unusual step of publicizing the handwriting on the tourist brochure, putting it on a billboard to see if anyone recognized it, under the words: "WHO KILLED THE ROGERS FAMILY?"

One of Chandler's former neighbors recognized the writing and called authorities. At Chandler's trial, prosecutors used details of the unrelated rape for which he was never tried. That Canadian woman testified Chandler took her by boat to see the sunset out on the bay and raped her. She said she believed the reason she wasn't killed was because a friend was waiting for her at the dock. Based on the similarities of the cases, prosecutors hypothesized that Rogers and her daughters were lured onto his boat with the promise of seeing the sunset and were then sexually assaulted before being murdered.

In the 17 years he was in the prison system, he never got a visit from a friend or family member


Chandler v. State, 702 So.2d 186 (Fla. 1997) (Direct Appeal).
Chandler v. State, 848 So.2d 1031 (Fla. 2003) (PCR).
Chandler v. McDonough, 471 F.3d 1360 (11th Cir. 2006) (Habeas).

Final / Special Meal:

Two salami sandwiches on white bread with mustard. He also asked for a peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich on white bread but ate only half of it. He ordered an iced tea, but drank coffee instead.

Final Words:



Florida Department of Corrections

Name: Chandler, Oba
Birth Date: 10/11/1946
Offense Date: 06/01/1989
Sentencing Date: 11/04/1994
Initial Receipt Date: 11/04/1994
Current Custody: MAXIMUM
Current Release Date: DEATH SENTENCE
County of Conviction: Pinellas


Oba Chandler

DC #056979
DOB: 10/11/46 

Sixth Judicial Circuit, Pinellas County, Case #92-17438
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Susan F. Schaeffer
Trial Attorney: Frederic S. Zinober, Esq.
& Robert A. Santa Lucia, Esq.
Attorney, Direct Appeal: Paul Helm – Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, Collateral Appeals:  Gary Printy – Registry 

Date of Offense: 06/01/89 

Date of Sentence: 11/04/94         

Circumstances of Offense:

Oba Chandler was convicted and sentenced to death for the murders of Joan Rogers and her two daughters, Michelle and Christe, on 06/01/89.

Joan Rogers and her daughters were vacationing in Tampa from Ohio and checked into their hotel on 06/01/89. 

Housekeeping staff noticed that their room remained uninhabited for over week, at which point, they contacted the manager, who then contacted police. 

Upon investigation, the Rogers’ car was found abandoned beside a boat ramp off the Courtney Campbell Causeway.  Inside the car they found a brochure with directions on it, parts of which were written in Oba Chandler’s handwriting.  Chandler’s fingerprints were also lifted from the brochure.

The bodies of all three women were found tied and weighted in Tampa Bay on 06/04/89.  Each woman was naked from the waist down, arms and legs bound, and a cinder block was tied by a rope around their necks.  Medical examiners determined the cause of death of all three women to be asphyxiation from the ropes around their necks, or from drowning.

Investigation revealed similarities between the Rogers’ murders and the rape of a woman in a nearby area.  From information given by Judy Blair, the victim of the rape, a composite drawing was made of the suspect and printed in the local paper, along with the stories of the two crimes. 

After seeing the article, Chandler fled the area and stayed with relatives.  He admitted to them that the police were searching for him in connection with the rape/murder investigation. 

At trial, Judy Blair testified that when she first met Chandler he offered to take her on a sunset cruise on his boat.  Not fearing for her safety in the least, Blair accompanied Chandler on a ride through Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.  While at sea, Chandler raped Blair.  Blair testified that she believed he would have killed her had it not been for the fact that a friend was waiting for her back at the dock. 

The State used this incident to hypothesize how Chandler lured the Rogers family with the offer of a cruise on his boat before he killed them.  Chandler was not arrested or charged with the murders until September 1992.

Trial Summary:

11/10/92          Defendant indicted on:

Count I:           First-Degree Murder (Joan Rogers)

Count II:          First-Degree Murder (Michelle Rogers)

Count III:         First-Degree Murder (Christe Rogers)

11/16/92          Defendant entered a plea of “not guilty”.

09/29/94          The jury found the defendant guilty on all counts.

09/30/94          Upon advisory sentencing, the jury, by a 12 to 0 majority, voted for the death penalty on all three convictions.

11/04/94          The defendant was sentenced as followed:

Count I:           First-Degree Murder (Joan Rogers) - Death

Count II:          First-Degree Murder (Michelle Rogers) - Death

Count III:         First-Degree Murder (Christe Rogers) - Death

Case Information:

Chandler filed a Direct Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court on 12/05/94.  In that appeal, he argued that admitting evidence regarding the sexual battery of Judy Blair unfairly prejudiced his case.  Chandler also claimed that the trial court erred in repeatedly requiring him to invoke his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, and in admitting statements made by his daughter Kristal Mays.  Regarding the penalty phase, Chandler contended that the court erred in accepting his waiver of the presentation of mitigating evidence, and in the application of aggravating and mitigating circumstances. 

The Florida Supreme Court affirmed the convictions and sentences of death on 10/16/97. 

Chandler then filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court, which was denied on 04/20/98.

Next, Chandler filed a 3.850 Motion in the State Circuit Court, which was denied on 06/27/01.  He promptly filed an appeal of that decision in the Florida Supreme Court on 07/05/01, which was affirmed on 04/17/03.  Chandler’s Motion for Rehearing was denied on 6/24/03.

On 06/27/03, Chandler filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in the U.S. District Court that was denied on 02/08/06. 

Chandler filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in the U.S. Court of Appeals on 02/13/06 that is pending.


Oba Chandler (October 11, 1946 – November 15, 2011) was an American convicted rapist and murderer who was put to death via lethal injection for the June 1989 triple murders of a woman and her two daughters whose bodies were found in Tampa Bay, Florida. All three were discovered floating with their hands and feet bound, concrete blocks tied to their necks and duct tape over their mouths. Autopsies indicated the women had been thrown into the water one by one while still alive.

The case became high-profile in 1992 when police posted billboards with blowups of an unknown suspect's handwriting samples found on a pamphlet in the victims' car, leading to the identification of the killer when Chandler's neighbor recognized the writing. Billboards had not been used by police before, and became useful tools in later searches for missing people.

Prior to his arrest, Chandler worked as an aluminum building contractor. He testified in his own defense against the advice of his attorneys and admitted that he had met the Ohio women, giving them directions, but claimed he never saw them again aside from newspaper coverage and the billboards set up by investigators. Police originally theorized that there were two men involved in the murders of the Rogers women; however, this was discounted once Chandler was arrested. Following his conviction, Chandler was incarcerated at Florida State Prison.

On October 10, 2011, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a death warrant for Chandler. His execution was set for November 15, 2011, at 4:00 pm. Chandler was executed with a lethal injection and pronounced dead just after 4:25 pm.


Chandler was born to Oba Chandler Sr. and Margaret Johnson and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, approximately 100 miles from where the Rogers family was living. Chandler was the fourth of five children. When Chandler was only 10 years old, his father hanged himself in the basement of the family's apartment. His father's death in June 1957 affected Chandler so much that he reportedly jumped into the open grave at the funeral as the gravediggers were covering the coffin with dirt. Chandler fathered eight children, the youngest born in February 1989. Between May and September 1991, at the same time that Tampa police investigated the Rogers family triple murder, Chandler was an informant for the U.S. Customs Tampa office.

Earlier crimes and incidents

Chandler was stealing cars by age 14 and was arrested 20 times while he was a juvenile. As an adult he was charged with a long list of crimes, including possession of counterfeit money, loitering and prowling, burglary, kidnapping and armed robbery. He was also accused of masturbating while peering inside a woman's window, and on another occasion of receiving 21 wigs stolen from a beauty parlor. In one incident, Chandler and an accomplice broke into the home of a Florida couple and held them at gunpoint while robbing them. Chandler told his accomplice to tie up the man with speaker wire and then took the woman into the bedroom, where he made her strip to her underwear, tied her up and rubbed the barrel of his revolver across her stomach.

Rogers' murders

On May 26, 1989, Joan "Jo" Rogers, 36, and her daughters – Michelle, 17, and Christe, 14 – left their family dairy farm in Willshire, Ohio for a vacation in Florida. They had never before left their home state. On June 1, authorities believe, the women became lost while looking for their hotel. They encountered Chandler, who gave them directions and offered to meet them again later to take them on a sunset cruise of Tampa Bay. It is known that the Rogers women left Orlando that morning around 9 a.m. and checked into the Days Inn on Route 60 at 12:30 p.m. Snapshots recovered from a camera left in their car showed the last picture of Michelle while she was alive, and even the sun setting on the same bay where their lives later ended. They were last seen alive at the hotel restaurant around 7:30 p.m. It is believed they boarded Chandler's boat at the dock on the Courtney Campbell Causeway (part of Route 60) between 8:30 and 9:00 p.m., and that they were dead by 3 a.m. Chandler could also have used the fact that he was born in Ohio to lure them into feeling more connected with him. It is also believed that he knew that the women were not from Florida, as he recognized the Ohio car plates since he himself was originally from Cincinnati.

Sunshine Skyway over Tampa Bay where the first body was found on June 4, 1989: The women's bodies were found floating in Tampa Bay on June 4, 1989, with bound hands and feet, concrete blocks tied to their necks and duct tape over their mouths. The first body was found floating when a sailboat, on its way home to Tampa after a trip to Key West, had just crossed under the Sunshine Skyway when several people on board saw an object in the water. This was identified as a dead female.

The second body was floating to the north of where the first had been sighted. It was 2 miles off The Pier in St. Petersburg. While the Coast Guard went to recover the second body, a call came in of yet a third female, seen floating only a couple of hundred yards to the east. Like the first two victims found, this body was face down, bound, with a rope around the neck and naked below the waist.

Autopsies indicated the three women had been thrown into the water while still alive. This was bolstered by water found in their lungs and the fact that Michelle had freed one arm from her bonds before succumbing. Michelle was thereby identified as the second victim found in Tampa Bay and recovered. The partially-dressed bodies of all three women indicated that the underlying crime was sexual assault. The blocks were tied around each of their necks to make sure they died from either suffocation or drowning, and to make sure the bodies were never found. However, the bodies ended up being found when they bloated due to decomposition and floated to the surface.


The women were not positively identified until a week after their bodies' discovery, by which time they had been reported missing back home in Ohio by the husband and father, Hal Rogers. A housekeeper at the Days Inn noted on June 8 that nothing in the room had been disturbed, and that beds had not been slept in. She contacted the general manager, who then contacted the police. Fingerprint matches to the bodies were made from those found in the room. Final confirmation of their identification came from dental records sent from the Rogers' dentist in Ohio. Marine researchers at Florida International University studied the currents and patterns, and confirmed that the women were tossed from a boat and not from a bridge or dry land, and that it had happened anywhere from two to five days before they were found. This was confirmed when the Rogers car, a 1984 Oldsmobile Calais with Ohio license plates, was found at the boat dock on the Courtney Campbell Causeway.

Facts pointing to Chandler and arrest

The case remained unsolved and cold for over three years, partly due to the volume of tips pouring in to the police who investigated the crime. Chandler was not arrested for the murders until September 24, 1992. His handwritten directions on a brochure found in the Rogers vehicle, along with a description of his boat written by Jo Rogers on the brochure, were the primary clues that led to his being named a suspect. Also, authorities had posted the handwriting from the brochure on billboards, which was historic as it was used for the first time in an attempt to find an unknown killer. This led to a tip from a former neighbor who was able to provide a copy of a work order that Chandler had written. A handwriting analysis conclusively matched the two.

Another neighbor, as well as one of the secretaries on the investigative task force, also thought that Chandler resembled the composite sketch of the suspect in a seemingly related rape case (see next paragraph). A palmprint from the brochure was also matched to Chandler. Moreover, Chandler had sold his boat and left town with his family soon after the billboards appeared all over the Tampa Bay area.

In 1990, when the TV show Unsolved Mysteries was about to report on the deaths of the Rogers family, Chandler and his then-wife moved from their home on Dalton Avenue in Tampa to Port Orange near Daytona Beach. This is believed to be because Chandler felt more worried about being caught because of the upcoming television show about his crime.

Second suspect

Investigators originally theorized that two men were involved in the murders of the Rogers women. This theory was reflected in a 1990 episode of the American crime television show Unsolved Mysteries, in which a reenactment of the crime depicted two men leaving the dock with the three women on board a boat. This theory, however, was dismissed when Chandler was arrested. Other than a claim by a former prison cellmate that Chandler has said there was another man involved – whom the cellmate claimed to know the identity of but would not name – no evidence has ever surfaced regarding the involvement of anyone other than Chandler. The second-suspect theory is belied by Chandler's approach of two Canadian women – that he had the willingness to approach more than one potential target by himself.

John Rogers, Hal Rogers's brother, was also seriously considered a suspect even though he was in state prison at the time. John Rogers was in fact serving a prison term for the rape of Hal's daughter Michelle. Soon investigators established that John did not have the connections in prison to have done the murders via a hitman or friend. John Rogers was released from prison in 2004 and has had no further contact with his brother Hal since.

While living in a trailer in Willshire, John had allegedly lured two teenage girls there and sexually abused them. Subsequent police investigation turned up evidence indicating that he had also done the same to Michelle. This caused a major rift in the family and may have played an indirect part in the eventual murders. The idea that he may have planned the crime was bolstered by the fact that his and Hal's parents had property near Tampa, and that he had visited the area a month before the murders. However, he was a general loner with little close ties to even his own family, let alone friends, so such a plan, if there were one, would have been beyond character for him. For this, and the simple reason that he did not know when his sister-in-law and nieces would be there, he was dismissed as a suspect.

Hal Rogers was also considered a suspect because he had posted bail for his brother after he knew of his abuse of Michelle. Hal Rogers said later that he had promised the family to make bail and would not go back on his promise. Investigators from Florida and Ohio also found out that Hal Rogers had withdrawn $7,000 from his bank at the time of the disappearance. When questioned about it, he showed investigators a satchel with most of the money in it. He planned on using it to go and search for his wife and daughters himself before he was notified of their deaths. Also, subsequent investigation conclusively proved he had never left Ohio during that time period. The rape and the hype around Michelle Rogers by people in the neighborhood and media was one of the reasons why the Florida trip was taken, so Michelle, her sister and her mother could get some distance from the incident.


Chandler's testimony

At his trial in a Clearwater, Florida courtroom, Chandler admitted meeting the Rogers women and giving them directions, but claimed he never saw them again except in the newspaper and on billboards. Yet he never came forward to tell authorities that he had seen the women. He acknowledged he was on Tampa Bay that night – a fact he could not deny since the police had evidence of three ship-to-shore phone calls made from his boat to his home during the time frame of the murders – but claimed he was fishing alone. He explained that he returned home late because his engine would not start, which he attributed to a gas line leak he claimed to have found near dawn. He claimed he had called the Coast Guard and Florida Marine Patrol, but they were busy elsewhere.

Finally, he claimed he flagged down a Coast Guard patrol boat, but they were busy and promised to send help. Then he claimed to have fixed the line with duct tape, which allowed him to make it back safely to shore. His testimony was quickly refuted by the Pinellas County Prosecutor, Douglas Crow, who verbally sparred with Chandler to demonstrate that he had lied about everything. All Chandler could muster in response to the prosecutor's repeated questions was, "I don't remember."

This defense won him few sympathizers on a jury that quickly saw through his façade and the inconsistencies in his statements. Moreover, there were no records of distress calls from Chandler that night to either the Coast Guard or the Marine Patrol, nor were there any Coast Guard boats on the bay the following morning to help him. A boat mechanic testified for the prosecution that Chandler's explanation for repairing the boat's alleged gas leak could not have happened as he had portrayed it. Chandler's boat, a Bayliner, had a distinctive engine in which the fuel lines were directed upward. A leak would have sprayed fuel into the air, not into the boat, and the corrosive gasoline would have eaten away the adhesive properties of the duct tape Chandler claimed to use to repair the purported leak.


Another lead was that on May 15, 1989—two weeks prior to the Rogers murders—Chandler lured Canadian tourist Judy Blair onto his boat in nearby Madeira Beach, raped her, then dropped her off back on land. Blair made her way back to her hotel room where her friend Barbara Mottram was waiting. He was not charged or tried for this crime. It is thought he did not murder her because Barbara refused his offer to join them on the boat, a decision which more than likely saved both their lives. As a result, Judy Blair testified during his trial for the murders to establish his pattern of attack and the similarities between the two crimes. Blair testified that on May 14, Chandler gave his name as Dave Posner or Posno when the three first met at a convenience store in Tampa. Presumably he gave the same alias to the Rogerses. He told Blair and Mottram he was in the aluminum contracting business, which helped lead investigators to him, as well as the naming of the investigation to capture him: Operation Tin Man. The description that Judy gave was also posted on the billboards along with the handwriting samples.

Additionally, a former employee of Chandler's testified that Chandler bragged of dating three women that night on the bay, and that the next morning he arrived and delivered materials for a job by boat and immediately set out again – presumably to make sure his victims were dead. In an attempt to establish Chandler's whereabouts on the night of the murders, investigators found phone records of several radio marine telephone calls made from his boat to his home between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. These likely were an attempt to explain to his wife his absence as well as to provide himself with an alibi for his whereabouts at the time of the murders.

Also, Chandler's own daughter Kristal May Sue testified against her father, saying that he talked about killing the three women and that he was afraid of going back to Tampa. A maid who worked at the motel where the Rogers women stayed testified that she walked past Oba Chandler as she was going to the Rogerses' room for room service on June 1, implying that it seemed as if Chandler had just left the women's hotel room at around 12:30 that afternoon. The maid said she didn't realize the importance of this sighting until Chandler's arrest in 1992, although the sighting has never been confirmed.

Hal Rogers and Michelle's boyfriend also took the stand during trial. Hal identified the women and talked about his emotions on June 1. The boyfriend told about a phone conversation with Michelle.

Sentence and aftermath

Jo, Michelle and Christe Rogers were buried in their hometown on June 13, 1989, after a funeral service at the Zion Lutheran Church. About 300 people among them family and friends of the victims attended the service. Because of the huge media interest for the case at the time, numerous police officers were present to keep all news media and crews out of the church during the funeral service. Chandler was tried and found guilty of the murders, and was sentenced to death on November 4, 1994.

After sentencing, the juror forewoman commented regarding the death sentence that, "They need to do this swiftly. The man is a mutation of a human being and he needs to be destroyed."

Chandler remained on Florida's Death Row, maintained his innocence, and continued to pursue legal appeals. He admitted the Madeira Beach incident but claims the sex was consensual, and that the victim had changed her mind during the act – which, in his words, was not possible for him to do. Chandler was never prosecuted in the rape of Judy Blair, since he had already been sentenced to death for the Rogers family murders, and prosecutors did not want to subject Blair to the emotional trauma of a rape trial. He continued to claim that he never met the Rogers women after that morning when he gave them directions.

Chandler served his sentence at Union Correctional Institution. Shortly after the trial and conviction, his wife Debra Chandler filed for divorce, and the marriage was formally dissolved a year later. Chandler was no longer allowed to see his daughter Whitney, and in accordance with his ex-wife's wishes, he was not allowed to see current photos of Whitney.

In July 2008, it was revealed that Chandler was on Florida's shortlist of executions. Profiling experts believe that Chandler may have killed previously, based on the speculation that a first-time killer would not be experienced or bold enough to abduct and kill three women at once. Chandler remains a suspect in a 1982 murder of a woman found floating off Anna Maria Island. However, Chandler was never charged with other murders. Chandler received an Institutional Adjustment disciplinary report on December 15, 2001, for disobeying orders in prison. All of Chandler's appeals since his 1994 conviction were denied, the last one in May 2007. After his conviction, Chandler was named by media as one of Florida's most notorious criminals. Chandler said that his last words before his execution would be "Kiss my rosy red ass".

In May 2011, comparison was drawn between the murder case and upcoming trial of Casey Anthony and Chandler's case and trial in 1994, as in both cases the heightened media attention forced the jurors to be selected from outside the county of the committed crime. One of the jurors in Chandler's 1994 trial identified as Roseann Welton also commented in an interview that, "The people that he murdered did not have a choice of when they were going to die. He (Chandler) should have had the death penalty by now. He scared some of the jurors when he would sit there and stare at you and have that stupid grin on his face. He would make your skin crawl."


On October 10, 2011, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a death warrant for Chandler. His execution was set for November 15, 2011, at 4:00 pm. The death warrant was signed the day before Chandler's 65th birthday. Chandler's lawyer, Baya Harrison, said that Chandler asked him not to file any frivolous appeals to keep him alive. "He is not putting a lot of pressure on me to go running around at the end to find some magic way out," said Harrison. "He is not going to make a scene. He's not going to bemoan the legal system. What he has told me is this: if there is some legal way that I can find to try to prevent him from being executed, he would like me to do what I reasonably can." Harrison also said that Chandler suffered from high-blood pressure and coronary artery disease and had problems with his kidneys and with arthritis.

On October 12, 2011, Harrison said that although he was preparing to file a motion regarding the violation of his client's Fifth and 14th Amendment rights in the case, he was unsure that Chandler was willing to make the trip to Clearwater for the court hearing or would even agree to the filing of the motion. "He hates coming down to Clearwater. He doesn't like the ride and he's not well," Harrison said. "He doesn't like to come out of his cell," added the attorney. "He doesn't like to be disturbed."

On October 18, 2011, Harrison filed a motion against the execution on the grounds that that the way Florida imposes the death penalty is unconstitutional. According to the filed motion, a jury makes a recommendation on life or death, but Florida law gives the judge the final say. A hearing on Chandler's motion was set for October 21 at 1:00 PM; Chandler did not attend the hearing in Clearwater, Florida. On October 24 Chandler's appeal was rejected because he had already filed an appeal to the Florida Supreme Court prior to the decision. This appeal was heard in a court in Tallahassee at 9:00 AM on November 9, 2011. The Florida Supreme Court has already upheld Oba Chandler's death sentence twice, once in 1997 and again in 2003.

On November 15, Chandler had chosen a last meal consisting of two salami sandwiches on white bread, one peanut butter sandwich on white bread and iced tea.

The execution process started at 4:08 p.m and at approximately 4:25 pm Chandler was pronounced dead after receiving a lethal injection at the Florida State Prison in Raiford, Florida. Chandler declined to make a last statement before being executed. Hal Rogers, the husband and father of the victims, attended the execution. Former St. Petersburg homicide detective Cindra Leedy who investigated the case said in a press conference that "I'm glad there's finally an end to this. He doesn't deserve to live, he needs to die".

Governor Rick Scott commented on his decision to sign the death warrant. "He (Chandler) killed three women, so I looked through different cases, and it made sense to do that one. There's never one thing. It was the right case."

Media concerning the case

The Discovery Channel devoted a one-hour episode concerning the murder of the Rogers family, "The Tin Man", on their series Scene of the Crime. The case was also one of three in an episode of the Discovery series Forensic Detectives. The former focused on the underlying events of the crimes, while the latter focused on forensic evidence. In 1997, a series of articles entitled "Angels & Demons" written by Thomas French was published in the St. Petersburg Times newspaper. The series told the story of the murders, the capture and conviction of Chandler and the impact of the crimes on the Rogers' family and community in Ohio, most notably their husband and father, Hal Rogers.

The articles won a 1998 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing. Death Cruise, by author Don Davis, also covered the case. The Rogers murders were featured in an episode of Unsolved Mysteries in 1990, where it was speculated that there were two attackers.

The book Bodies in the Bay, by Mason Ramsey, is a fictionalized adaptation (copyrighted in 1997, published in 2000). The case was also featured in a 1999 episode of Cold Case Files on A&E entitled Bodies in the Bay, which also focused on the evidence, but did not delve too deeply into the background of the murders.

In 1995 Oba Chandler, some part of his family and also Hal Rogers appeared in a special episode of the Maury Povich Show featuring on the case. Chandler commented on the case via satellite link. Chandler's case was also brought up in a full-hour episode of "Crime Stories". The case was also shown on an episode of Forensic Files entitled "Water Logged" in December 2010.


Oba Chandler dies for 1989 rapes, murders of mother, teen daughters

By Jamal Thalji -

November 16, 2011

STARKE — The man who raped and killed a mother and her two daughters in one unfathomable night of horror 22 years ago closed his eyes and died in his sleep on Tuesday. Oba Chandler was executed by lethal injection at 4:25 p.m. for the 1989 murder of Joan Rogers and daughters Michelle and Christe. The Ohio family was visiting Florida when they were found floating in the bay, bound, tied to concrete blocks and stripped below the waist.

When the bodies of the three women were found, their mouths were taped shut but not their eyes. Their killer wanted them to watch, according to the FBI profile, so he could enjoy their terror. Hal Rogers, the father and husband they left behind, sat directly across from their killer in the witness room, separated by glass. Chandler's eyes were closed when the brown curtain to the death chamber rose. He was strapped onto a gurney, intravenous tubes leading into his arms. His eyes opened when he was asked if he had anything to say. "No," Chandler said. Then, at the age of 65, he closed his eyes for good.

An hour after his death, state officials revealed Chandler wasn't telling the truth. He had left behind a final statement. "You are killing a innocent man today," Chandler had written on lined paper by 9 a.m. "Bull - - - -," said Pinellas-Pasco Chief Assistant State Attorney Bruce Bartlett, who helped prosecute Chandler and witnessed his death. "A jury of 12 didn't seem to think so."

Joan "Jo" Rogers, 36, and teenagers Michelle, 17, and Christe, 14, were last seen alive on June 1, 1989. They were found in Tampa Bay three days later. It took three years to crack the case. First their murders were linked to the rape of a 24-year-old Canadian woman two weeks before. A friendly local invited her onto his boat, then raped her. The Rogers family must have been similarly charmed, police believe.

Tampa resident Jo Ann Steffey realized that the sketch of the rape suspect matched her neighbor, Chandler. Later, his neighbors realized that handwritten directions given to the Rogers family also matched Chandler's handwriting. But the task force investigating the murders was flooded with tips. It took more than a year before they focused on Chandler.

At his 1994 trial, the jury heard that five ship-to-shore calls were made from his boat, Gypsy 1, in the bay hours after the Rogers family was last seen. Jurors also heard that Chandler bragged of his crimes. The Canadian victim explained how Chandler charmed, then attacked her. Chandler testified that he was innocent, that his boat had broken down that night. But a boat mechanic punctured his story.

Defense attorney Baya Harrison III said that 17 years in prison had already killed his client. The lawyer, who witnessed the execution, said Chandler had advanced coronary artery disease, high blood pressure and failing kidneys. "He told me he was simply tired of living in that small cell under those conditions for all those years," Harrison said. "He just didn't want to live anymore."


Chandler executed for 1989 triple murders

By Chad Smith -

November 15, 2011

RAIFORD — Oba Chandler was executed by lethal injection Tuesday, his fate seemingly in stark contrast with how he ended the lives of an Ohio woman and her two teenage daughters more than 22 years ago. Chandler, 65, was pronounced dead at 4:25 p.m. in the death chamber at Florida State Prison after a lethal dose of drugs was sent through his veins.

In the summer of 1989, Joan “Jo” Rogers, 36, and her daughters, Michelle, 17, and Christe, 14, were visiting Florida for their first family vacation. On June 1, prosecutors said, they met Chandler, who invited them onto his boat for a cruise around Tampa Bay. Three days later, their half-nude bodies were found in the water. They had been tied with rope and weighted down with concrete blocks. They had apparently been sexually assaulted before they were thrown overboard still alive. On Tuesday, at 4:08 p.m. at Florida State Prison, a prison official asked, “Inmate Chandler, do you have any last statement that you would like to make?” “No,” Chandler said, uttering his last word. Later, reporters were given copies of a handwritten note he had apparently drafted earlier in the day. “You are killing a innocent man today,” read the note, which was signed.

Years earlier, it was Chandler's handwriting that helped lead to his arrest — more than three years after the murders. Investigators made the decision to put up billboards in Tampa with a sampling of the suspect's handwriting, which was taken from directions to the boat they found in the Rogers' car. A woman noticed the writing matched that of Oba Chandler, her former neighbor and an aluminum contractor she was already suspicious of, and called police. Chandler was arrested on Sept. 24, 1992, and convicted on Nov. 4, 1994.

In the 17 years he was in the prison system, he never got a visit from a friend or family member, said Gretl Plessinger, a spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections. Still, the family did claim his body and will receive it later this week following a routine autopsy. A woman who said she was Chandler's biological daughter showed up at the media staging area across from the prison on Tuesday. The 40-year-old woman, Suzette, who said she was born Suzette Chandler in Ohio but declined to give her current last name or where she lived, said from what she had read of the case and told about her father, she considered him a “very sick, evil human being.”

She said he tried to contact her shortly after the murders in 1989, a few years after she had reached out to him after learning that he was her father. Chandler's only supporter in the witness room was his attorney through the appeals process, Baya Harrison III.

For his last meal, served around 11 a.m., Chandler ate two salami and mustard sandwiches on white bread and half of a peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich, Plessinger said. He asked for unsweetened iced tea but did not drink it. Instead he had coffee.

The execution was scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. but it was delayed about seven minutes as officials struggled to find veins suitable for the intravenous needles, Plessinger said. Chandler took diazepam to reduce anxiety before his final moments. Chandler closed his eyes at 4:09 as the first of three drugs — to render him unconscious — was administered and his mouth opened slightly at 4:10, his face remaining that way until he was pronounced dead 15 minutes later.

Hal Rogers, Jo Rogers' husband and the girls' father, ran a dairy farm with his wife in Wilshire, Ohio, and needed to stay home to tend to the cows when the women of the house set out south on Interstate 75 for the Sunshine State in May 1989. The St. Petersburg Times reported last month that he has since remarried to a widow named Jolene and now raises hogs and grows corn. At that time, he wasn't sure whether he would attend Chandler's execution. “I miss them all,” he told the newspaper. “That makes it rough on Jolene. How do you fight a dead person? But her first husband died too. She understands.”

On Tuesday, Rogers was there wearing a coat and tie, sitting in the middle of the front row in the witness room. He did not speak with reporters afterward. Amanda “Mandi” Scarlett, Joan Rogers' niece, sat next to him during the execution and later read a statement at a news conference. “The family of Jo, Michelle and Chris are very appreciative of everyone that has brought us to this day,” Scarlett said. “The journey has been difficult for all of us involved. We have always been grateful to those who brought us to this place, and we were grateful that they were brought back home to us. Now is the time for peace.”


Killer of 3 faces scheduled execution in Florida

By Tamara Lush -

November 15, 2011

STARKE, Fla. -- A man who was convicted of the 1989 killings of an Ohio woman and her two teenage daughters in Florida as they returned from a dream vacation to Disney World was executed Tuesday. Oba Chandler, 65, was given a lethal injection and pronounced dead at 4:25 p.m. Tuesday at the Florida State Prison, Gov. Rick Scott's office said. The execution began at 4:08 p.m. and concluded without any problems.

Prison officials later released what they said was a final statement from Chandler, who had only said "No" when asked if he had any last words to speak as he awaited execution. "Today you are killing a innocent man," the note read.

There were 21 witnesses, plus 11 members of the media in attendance. Hal Rogers, the husband and father of the victims, watched calmly from the front row. Neither Rogers nor any of the other witnesses spoke during the execution. Mandi Scarlett, a niece of victim Joan Rogers, spoke briefly after the execution. "Now is the time for peace," she said.

Chandler was convicted in 1994 of killing 36-year-old Joan Rogers and her daughters, Christe and Michelle, who were 14 and 17, and dumping their bound bodies in Tampa bay. The three were on their first vacation and making their way home to their small farming community of Willshire, Ohio, after their Florida trip.

Authorities concluded that the women met Chandler on June 1, 1989, when they stopped and asked him for directions to their Tampa area motel. Chandler, who had ties to Ohio, apparently sweet-talked the women into going on his boat, police said. Once aboard, Chandler bound the victims' arms and legs, tied concrete blocks to ropes around their necks and then threw them overboard, according to detectives. Despite the concrete blocks, the bodies surfaced and were found days later, naked from the waist down.

Detectives didn't crack the case for three years. Two things helped make the arrest: a tourist brochure with Chandler's handwriting was found in Rogers' car, and Chandler looked similar to a composite sketch of a suspect wanted in an earlier unsolved assault against a Canadian woman who was raped aboard a boat in Tampa Bay. Authorities took the unusual step of publicizing the handwriting on the tourist brochure, putting it on a billboard to see if anyone recognized it, under the words: "WHO KILLED THE ROGERS FAMILY?" One of Chandler's former neighbors recognized the writing and called authorities.

At Chandler's trial, prosecutors used details of the unrelated rape for which he was never tried. That Canadian woman testified Chandler took her by boat to see the sunset out on the bay and raped her. She said she believed the reason she wasn't killed was because a friend was waiting for her at the dock. Based on the similarities of the cases, prosecutors hypothesized that Rogers and her daughters were lured onto his boat with the promise of seeing the sunset and were then sexually assaulted before being murdered.

Chandler took the stand at trial and acknowledged to giving Rogers directions, but denied that he had anything to do with the killings. Scott signed Chandler's death warrant on Oct. 11, the second he has signed since taking office as governor. The Florida Supreme Court affirmed a lower court decision to proceed with the lethal injection. Since his conviction in 1994, Chandler had not received any friends or visitors.

For his last meal Tuesday, Chandler ate two salami sandwiches on white bread, half of a peanut butter sandwich and had coffee. "He's cooperative and doing what the officers tell him," Florida State Prison spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger said.

Chandler's lawyer, Baya Harrison, said that some members of Chandler's family had wanted to see him. But years ago, Chandler became angry with his family and took all of them off his visitation list, the lawyer said. According to state prison rules, once the death warrant was signed, Chandler couldn't add family back to his visitation list - the lawyer said. "He's had problems with his family over the years," said Harrison, adding Chandler would have liked to have seen some of his relatives.

About three dozen protesters - bused in from Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Daytona - protested less than a half mile from the prison gates against the death penalty. They held up signs with such phrases as "Thou Shalt Not Kill" and "We Remember the Victims But Not With More Killing." About 50 yards away, four protesters in favor of the death penalty stood by. Florida Highway Patrol officers stood watch between the two groups.


Chandler's daughter wanted to say goodbye

By Rob Shaw -

November 27, 2011

TAMPA - Valerie Troxell has no idea what happened to her father's body after he was executed by the state of Florida. "I'd at least like to know where he's buried," she said of Oba Chandler, the triple murderer who was put to death by lethal injection on Nov. 15 at Florida State Prison outside Starke. "Just to be able to say a final goodbye."

After an autopsy, Chandler's body was claimed by his son, Jeff Chandler, who lives in Pasco County, according to the Department of Corrections. Prison officials also gave Jeff Chandler family photographs that Oba Chandler had in his cell on death row.

Chandler was executed for the June 1989 murders of Joan Rogers and her two teenage daughters, whose bodies were found in Tampa Bay while they were on their first family vacation from their Ohio farm. The three were found naked from the waist down, their hands and ankles tied and a concrete block tied around their necks. The former Tampa man maintained his innocence until the day he died, even writing a note to prison officials that they were killing an innocent man.

Troxell, who never had a relationship with her father and has only vague memories of spending time with him at an amusement park once, still believes in him. "I believe they did execute an innocent man. I don't think one person could have pulled off such a heinous crime," she said by telephone from her home outside Cincinnati. "It would have to have been more than one person. I believe the killers are still out there. "The forensic evidence was not there. The palm print would prove he did meet them and gave them directions, but it didn't mean he killed them," Troxell added. "I think the prosecution had a very weak case."

Chandler's palm print on a Clearwater Beach brochure and his handwritten directions on that item were integral in the state's case to convict Chandler. Prosecutors told the jury that Chandler came across the Rogers' trio when they were trying to find their hotel on the Courtney Campbell Causeway, then lured them onto a sunset cruise where he killed them.

Troxell said she fought to keep Chandler alive as the end neared for her father. "I did everything I could to stay his execution and I got no response," she said. "I called the governor's office and he declined to take my phone call. That angered me. He was making such a big decision and wouldn't even give me the courtesy of answering my phone call."

Since the execution, the daughter said, life for her has not been easy. "It's been horrible," she said. "I haven't been able to sleep well, I've been anxious. Everything is finalized."

Chandler never had a single visitor, other than his attorney, in all his years on death row. The only person to witness the execution on his behalf was Baya Harrison, the lawyer who fought for his life in various death appeals over the years. "The poor guy had nobody there for him," Harrison said. "I was not about to leave him there alone." While Harrison had said before that Chandler was resigned to his fate and was tired of living in a cramped cell, Troxell was not so sure. "I don't think anyone wants to die. I don't think it was his wish to be put to death," she said. "I'm sure he was tired of living that existence.

"He probably felt alienated from everyone," Troxell added. "That in itself is inhumane, to keep someone in a cell 23 hours a day and not allow them to socialize. I think I would go crazy." The daughter said while she feels pain for the loss of her father, she also worries about the suffering of Hal Rogers, who attended her father's execution. "I can't imagine what life is like without his wife and two daughters," she said. "I pray for him every day. I can't imagine what kind of pain that must cause him. "But I believe that Obie's innocent. He did a lot of things in his life that I am not proud of as his daughter," Troxell added. "He has a lengthy criminal record. But murder? No, I don't believe it."

The daughter said she was surprised that Chandler didn't have anything to say when afforded the opportunity for a final statement before the flow of lethal chemicals began invading his body. "I'm really surprised he didn't tell them to kiss his behind," she said. "I probably would have."


Oba Chandler

On Sunday, June 4, 1989 at approximately 9:30 a.m. boaters discovered three decomposed female bodies floating in South Tampa Bay. The bodies were later identified as Mrs. Joan Rogers and her daughters, Michelle and Christe. At the time of their deaths in 1989, Joan was 36, Michelle 17 and Christe was 14.

Dr. Edward Corcoran, an Associate Medical Examiner, performed autopsies on all three women on June 4 and determined that the cause of death to each was asphyxiation caused either by strangulation from the ropes tied around their necks or by drowning. Dr. Corcoran estimated that the women had died sometime between the evening of June 1 and the morning of June 2, 1989. He described the bodies as being bloated and decomposed. Each was nude from the waist down. There was duct tape on the face or the head of Christe and Michelle. Christe and Joan's hands were each tied behind their backs with clothesline-type rope. Michelle's right hand had clothesline-type rope around the wrist but the left hand was free with only a loop of rope. Michelle's ankles were bound with clothesline-type rope. Joan and Michelle each had a yellow nylon rope around their neck which was attached to a concrete block. The concrete block around 1 Joan's neck had three holes in it. The object tied to the yellow nylon rope around Christe's neck had been cut. Christe and Joan's ankles were each tied together with yellow nylon rope. There were no fractures of the hyoid bones. Besides ligature marks and discoloration behind the upper esophagus and darkening and hemorrhaging in the neck tissues of each woman, no other injuries were determined. Dr. Corcoran looked for and did not find any genital injuries. He did not look for semen nor did he expect to find any as semen would have decomposed or been washed away by the action of the water. From the contents of Joan Rogers' stomach, Dr. Corcoran was able to estimate that she last ate four to eight hours prior to her death.

Dr. Bernard Ross, an expert regarding the characteristics of water movement in Tampa Bay, testified that all three of the bodies were dumped in Tampa Bay at the same location. Based on his study, Dr. Ross opined that none of the bodies could have been thrown from a land mass such as Gandy Bridge or Howard Frankland Bridge.

At the time of their deaths, the Rogers were vacationing in Florida. The evidence showed that on Thursday, June 1 at 9:34 a.m. the Rogers checked out of the Gateway Inn in Orlando and went to Tampa, They checked into the Days Inn in Tampa shortly after the noon hour on June 1, 1989. Phone records from the hotel show that two calls made from the Rogers' room on June 1. One was placed at 12:37 pm for nine minutes and another call was placed locally in Tampa at 12:57 pm for less than a minute. Harold Malloy, a guest at the Days Inn, saw the Rogers in the hotel's restaurant on June 1, between 7:00 and 7:30 p.m. The Rogers left the restaurant at about 7:30 or 7:35 p.m. The general manager of the Days Inn, Rocky Point on the Courtney Campbell Causeway was alerted by housekeeping on June 8 that the Rogers' room did not appear to have been inhabited for a few days. After an inspection of the premises, he contacted law enforcement who came out, secured the scene and obtained records from the hotel regarding the occupants.

Officers identified numerous personal articles, clothing, suitcases and papers belonging to the occupants. There were canisters of film which had been exposed. These were developed and the last three pictures on the last roll of film showed the Days Inn Hotel, Room 251 and one of Michelle standing on the balcony of the hotel. Dr. Kendal Carder, a professor of oceanography at the University of South Florida opined at trial that the photograph of Michelle was taken sometime between 6:20 p.m. and 8:20 p.m. on June 1, 1989. Neither the camera nor the clothing depicted in the picture of Michelle was found in the victims' vehicle or among the evidence seized from Room 251 of the Days Inn. The police found the Rogers' locked car parked at a boat ramp on the causeway. There was sand wedged around the tires of the vehicle indicating it had been there for some time. Detectives later found a set of car keys belonging to the victims' car in a purse known to belong to Michelle Rogers in the motel room. A search of the vehicle revealed several exhibits, including a piece of Days Inn, Rocky Point stationery; an index card with directions to Gateway Inn, Orlando; notebook paper with personal notes; a key to Days Inn Room 251; a Clearwater Beach brochure; a Hampton Inn coupon; a Jacksonville Zoo receipt and a road atlas.

FBI Agent James Henry Mathis determined that a note handwritten on Days Inn stationery found in the victims' car was written by Joan Rogers. The note read, "Turn right. West W on 60, two and one-half miles before the bridge on the right side at light, blue w/wht." Theresa Stubbs, an examiner of questioned documents for the FDLE at the Tampa Regional Crime Laboratory, examined the handwriting on the Clearwater Beach brochure and identified Oba Chandler as the writer. From her analysis, Ms. Stubbs determined that the "Boy Scout, Columbus" portion of the writing on the brochure may have been written by Joan Rogers.

Rollins Cooper worked as a subcontractor for Oba Chandler in the spring of 1989 for 3-6 months. He testified that on June, 1,1989, between eleven and twelve a.m. Chandler brought him some screen. Cooper asked Chandler why he was in such a big hurry and Chandler told him he had a date with three women. Cooper met Chandler the next morning at 7:05 a.m. Cooper thought Chandler was kind of grubby. When Cooper asked him why he looked like that he said that he had been out on his boat all night.

Oba had a place next to his house where the scrap aluminum from the different jobs would be left. There were also some eight-by-sixteen building blocks laying there and a boat trailer. The state also presented the testimony of Judy Blair and her companion Barbara Mottram concerning Chandler's sexual battery of Judy Blair in Madeira Beach. Judy Blair testified that she and Barbara were in Florida on vacation from Ontario, Canada, when they met Chandler at a convenience store. Chandler told them that he knew the area and that he worked in the area; that it was a highcrime area and that two young girls should be very careful. He said his name was "Dave" and he worked in the aluminum-siding business. He said that he had a boat and because he knew the area so well, he would take them out on the boat and show them the area from the water. After they told him they were from Canada, he told them he was from upstate New York. His demeanor was very friendly, very warm. They made plans for the next day and what time he would pick them up. Chandler invited both Judy and Barbara out on the boat. The next morning Barbara insisted that she did not want to go and Judy told her that the plans were made and that she had no way to get hold of the person. Chandler had told Judy that he would be coming from approximately two hours away. She decided to go even though Barbara would not be going. Wearing a white T-shirt, a pair of cotton shorts, sneakers and a bathing suit underneath, Judy met Chandler at 10:30 a.m. He was in an older blue and white boat. The interior bottom was white or off-white. There was a space under the bow; a storage area with equipment. She saw white ropes in the compartment down below. Judy did not remember seeing any concrete blocks on the boat. When Judy explained that Barbara wasn't coming, Chandler seemed disappointed. He pulled some duct tape from the storage area and taped the steering wheel. He told Judy that he kept his boat lifted up out of the water on davits.

At approximately 4:30 he returned Judy to the docks. He said that he had some difficulty with his boat and he had to attend to it. He told her to go home and get dinner, her camera so she could take pictures of the sunset and get Barbara. He specifically asked Judy to get Barbara. They were to meet back later at the same dock after dinner. Judy could not convince Barbara to go and Judy went back to the dock by herself. She took her camera with her. The man was already at the dock. He seemed "ticked off" that Barbara did not come. It was still daylight when they got on the boat and went under the bridge into the gulf. They drove through the gulf and stopped to take pictures of the sunset. Dave was in some of the pictures and Judy was in some of the pictures. They started to fish and Judy expressed concern that it was getting dark and she needed to get back; that people were waiting for her back on land. He started complimenting her and asked for her to give him a hug, She thanked him for the compliments and declined to give him a hug. He pulled Judy towards him and started touching her arms and around her body. He told her he was going to have sex with her. She told him "no" and asked him to take her back home. She started screaming and he said, "You think somebody is going to hear you? " Judy was panicky and was pleading with him to take her back.

At one point he started the boat; she thought to return to the shore. He took her further out in the water instead. Chandler stopped the boat and told her, "You're going to have sex with me. There's no way around it. What are you going to do, jump over the side of the boat?" Judy continually screamed and tried to get away from him. He sat on the passenger seat and pulled his pants down and took the back of Judy's head and made her perform fellatio on him. He put a towel down on the bottom of the boat and forcibly put her down. Judy was screaming and crying and he told her to "Shut up. Shut up. If you don't shut the fuck up, I'm going to tape your mouth. Do you want me to tape your mouth?" He pulled down the bottom half of what she was wearing and said, "You're going to have sex with me." Judy was kicking and screaming and crying and he was saying, "I'll tape your mouth. I'll tape your mouth." At that point she became fairly quiet. He also made reference to the fact that, "Is sex really something to lose your life over?" He started fondling her vaginal area. She was menstruating and he found the tampon and he pulled it out. At some point Chandler rolled Judy over onto her knees and attempted to penetrate her anally. She pleaded with him not to do that; that she had rectal cancer. He turned her over and penetrated her vaginally. He ejaculated, immediately pulled out, pulled his pants back up. He threw her a thermos bottle filled with water and told her to wash herself out. He took the camera, ripped the film out and threw it overboard. Then he wiped down the camera. He told Judy, "I know you're going to report this, but please give me a chance to go home to tell my little old mother." He took her back to shore. He dropped her off on the other shore of the channel from Don's Dock. Judy walked home.

She did not say anything to her mother or aunt or uncle when she got back. She just wanted to have a bath and go to bed. After her mother and aunt and uncle left the condominium, Judy told Barbara what happened. She ultimately reported it to the police later that evening of the 16th. Judy gave a description of the clothing "Dave" was wearing the evening he assaulted her and identified it at trial. Barbara confirmed Judy's testimony concerning how they met Chandler, that he was driving a black or very dark vehicle which resembled a Jeep Cherokee, that he was from upstate New York but resided in Florida and that he had to travel a little bit of a ways to get to Madeira Beach. Barbara confirmed that Judy came back to retrieve Barbara to go out on the boat. Judy said that both she and "Dave" (Chandler) wanted her to go on the sunset cruise. Barbara declined this second invitation. Judy took a camera with her. The next morning Judy related to Barbara what had happened to her the night before on the boat. Barbara testified that Judy was devastated. She was in shock. She was in tears and sobbing all day long. Barbara picked Oba Chandler's photograph out of a photo pack, identified him in a lineup of people and in the courtroom. Barbara also identified a photograph of Chandler's car and a photograph of Chandler as being more consistent with the what he looked like in 1989 than in the courtroom.

Detective James Kappell, of the St. Petersburg Police Department testified that in September, 1989 he became aware that a rape had occurred in Madeira Beach involving two Canadian tourists. Kappell traveled to Canada to interview Judy Blair and Barbara Mottram. Kappell obtained a composite drawing of "Dave" . The description of the suspect's vehicle, boat and his composite was released to the press and seen by Chandler's neighbor Joann Steffey. Ms. Steffey thought of Chandler when she saw the composite. She was aware that Chandler had a boat. It was blue and white with a blue top cover. Chandler had a black four-wheel drive vehicle.

In May, 1992 Ms. Steffey observed another newspaper article talking about the rape and the Rogers' homicides. The article contained a picture of the handwriting involved on a brochure. Upon seeing this second newspaper article, Ms. Steffey obtained a sample of Chandler's handwriting and concluded that it was the same. Ms. Steffey called the Task Force in St. Petersburg to notify them of her belief. Her neighbor FAX'd the handwriting sample to the police for their comparison.

Derek Galpin testified that he sold Chandler his boat. When he sold the boat to Chandler he told him that the English translation for the German name on the back of the boat meant GYPSY * The steering wheel was in pretty bad shape and had a black, very tacky sort of covering. Galpin also sold the residence to Chandler. There were six, seven, or eight rough gray concrete blocks with two square holes in them on the side of the house. Robert Carlton bought the blue and white boat from Chandler in July/August, 1989. The boat trailer was parked on the side of Chandler's house and was sold with the boat. The boat had a V-6 engine in it and a VHF radio in it. When Carlton got the boat from Chandler the interior was real clean. "It was spotless". Carlton recalled seeing concrete blocks at the Chandler house and that some of the concrete blocks had three holes and some had two.

Oba Chandler's daughter, Kristal Mays testified that she lived in Ohio. Chandler left when she was 7 and she did not see him again until the mid-eighties when she hired a detective to find her him. When the detective found Chandler he was incarcerated in Florida. Kristal and her sister, Valerie Lynn Troxell, visited him in the Spring of 1986. Lynn was also Chandler's daughter. Kristal was closer to Chandler than her sister. After Chandler was released from prison, Kristal and her family visited with the Chandler's in Florida. In November of 1989 Chandler called her in Cincinnati and left a number at a Cincinnati motel where he could be reached. Kristal did not know he was coming to visit. Chandler told her that he wanted her and her husband to come to the motel; it was very important. Chandler's Jeep was backed in front of another building, not the building he was staying in. The license plate was up against the building. Kristal remembered that Chandler had a dark colored Jeep vehicle in 1989. Upon entering the motel room, she observed numerous coffee cups, the ashtrays were overflowing with cigarette butts and her father was very anxious and nervous. She had not seen him act like that in the past.

Chandler told them he couldn't go back to Florida because they were looking for him for a rape of a woman. Kristal remembered that Chandler's words were "I can't go back to Florida because the police are looking for me for the rape of a woman." Chandler later called and apologized for the way he had been acting. Chandler did not have luggage or appropriate clothing for that time of year. They had to buy him some clothes. He later told Kristal, she couldn't remember whether he said "dock or pier, but he said that he picked a woman up, and she got away." Chandler did not give Kristal any further explanation of that statement. He told Kristal, "I can't go back to Florida because the police are looking for me because I killed some women." During none of these conversations did Chandler indicate that he was innocent of the things he was talking about. He never once indicated that the police had the wrong man. Chandler never said, "I am innocent of the crime and never said I am the one who murdered the women." Kristal said that Chandler "did not directly to me say, I murdered the women. He did not say that directly to me." After that night, Kristal did not talk about this any more with her father. Chandler directed Kristal not to tell anyone where he was, including his wife, Debbie. Chandler wanted to trade the Jeep he had for the car Kristal had. Chandler did not indicate why he wanted to get rid of his vehicle. While he was there, Chandler sold Kristal some jewelry. At a later point in time, Chandler contacted Kristal and asked her to set up a phone call between he and his wife Debbie. According to the telephone tolls for Kristal's number in 1989, there were a series of phone tolls to Tampa on November 10. Oba had called Kristal and wanted her to call Debbie and tell her to go to a phone booth. He said he couldn't call her at home; he was afraid his lines were tapped.

After Kristal called her, Debbie went to the phone booth, called Kristal and told her she was at the phone booth. Chandler called Kristal back, told her to tell Debbie to go to another phone booth because he thought someone might be following her. Kristal saw Chandler again in October, 1990. Chandler had Kristal's husband set up a drug deal. Chandler wound up taking some money from the drug dealers and leaving her husband literally holding the bag. Kristal's husband was badly beaten up and almost killed. Their house was attacked by the drug dealers at some point. She was in nursing school at the time and she had to drop out and move her family out of the house. Prior to Chandler's going back up to Cincinnati in 1990 and the incident with her husband, Kristal talked with Debra Chandler and Lula Harris about what her father had told her. Kristal asked them if there was any such crime in the state of Florida. They said there was nothing like that going on. Debbie thought he was having a nervous breakdown and told Kristal to tell him to go home. As a result of what they told her, Kristal told her sister Valerie Troxell, but did not call the police. Kristal said that she was upset with her father for what he had done but that she did not hate her father. Kristal wanted Rick to call the police on Chandler; to report to the police that he had put a gun on him. She said that she still did not understand why he did it, but that she was not angry with him anymore.

Chandler was arrested on September 24, 1992 and this incident occurred in October, 1990. After Chandler was arrested Kristal cooperated with law enforcement to try to tape conversations that she had with him. Kristal admitted lying to her father by denying to him that she had cooperated with law enforcement. The purpose of taping the conversations was to try to get some sort of an admission out of Chandler that he had done "this". Kristal had previously been convicted of a crime involving dishonesty. She went on national television, Hard Copy, on January 26, 1994. They paid her $1,000 for her story. Kristal declined an offer to appear on the Maury Povich show. She was aware there was a $25,000 reward for Chandler's conviction but she did not consider herself "in the running for that". Two years before, on October 6, 1992, she gave a sworn statement to the State Attorney's Office concerning the case.

Valerie Lynn Troxell was Kristal Mays' sister and lived in Ohio. She was also Oba Chandler's daughter. Valerie recalled a time in the fall of 1989 when Chandler appeared unexpectedly in Ohio. She remembered him being very anxious. He was extremely upset. He was chain-smoking cigarettes and was different than he was on other occasions when she contacted him. Valerie asked him several times why he was acting that way and Chandler avoided the conversation. Then, he finally said that he had to get rid of a woman in Florida. That she was trying to say that he raped her. He never gave her any more details and he did not indicate that he was innocent or that he hadn't done it. Chandler had not brought any luggage or clothing with him to Ohio that was appropriate for that time of year. He was trying to trade or sell his vehicle. Valerie recalled that it was one of the all-terrain, Jeep-type vehicles. He gave instructions for them to say that they had not seen him if anyone was trying to find him or look for him. Valerie said that Kristal related to her what her father had said to her during his visit to Ohio in 1989. Valerie went on national television, Hard Copy, and received $1,000. She went on the show for the money. The only reason Valerie was upset with Chandler at the time of the trial was because he wrote a letter to her employer telling her the things she had disclosed to the FBI and put Kristal's job in jeopardy.

James Rick Mays lived in Cincinnati and was Kristal Mays's husband. He vacationed at Chandler's house in late July and early August, 1989. While Rick was visiting, Chandler took him on a couple of aluminum jobs during the day. Chandler took Rick to John's Pass on Madeira Beach. During their travels, Chandler at some point began to talk about sex. As they were crossing the bridge, Chandler pointed off to the right, which was John's Pass and said that he picked up a lot of women at that point. He said that he had forcible sex with a lady that he had picked up from that area. Chandler told Rick that he raped somebody and one of them got away. Rick recalled a time in the fall of 1989, approximately November 7 or 9th, when Chandler showed up unexpected in Cincinnati, Ohio. Over the next day or two Rick had contact with Chandler. They rode together on an errand to Dayton. Kristal was not in the car. On the way to Dayton, Rick remembered Chandler saying that he told him they were looking for him for the murder of three women in Florida. The way Chandler talked, Rick thought that he actually did it. In none of the conversations did Chandler indicate to Rick that he was innocent or that the police were looking for the wrong man. Another time during this period Chandler came to their house one evening and Kristal was there. Chandler said he could not go home because of the murders of the women in Florida. When they got back to the house, Chandler was talking a little bit about either the rape or murders although Rick did not recall exactly what he said at that time. Chandler told them to tell anyone who called looking for him that they hadn't seen him. Rick was aware that his wife arranged a phone call between Mr. Chandler and his wife.

Subsequently, in 1990, Chandler went back to the Ohio area. He showed up at the door and said he ripped off the Coast Guard for some marijuana and that he had it tucked away and he wanted to know if Rick knew anybody that he could sell it to. Chandler said he'd pay Rick $6,000 to help him. Rick put Chandler in touch with a guy and they worked out a deal. Rick's role in the transaction was to pick up the money ($29,000) and bring it back to his house. When Rick arrived with the money, Chandler was sitting in the front yard in his pickup and he had his gun out. Rick said, "You know, this isn't the way it's supposed to go." The guy walked around the other side and dropped the money into the other side of the truck and Rick was trying to get the keys away from Chandler so he couldn't start the truck and take off. Chandler brought the gun up to Rick's forehead and said, "Family don't mean shit to me." Chandler hit Rick with the gun and he had to let go. Chandler got the truck started and left with the money. The guys took Rick back to their place. They thought Rick and Chandler were partners. They put a shotgun in Rick's mouth and threatened him. During this time, Chandler called and said, "Guess you know by now, you have been ripped off" and again, "Family don't mean shit to me." Chandler wanted to trade the money back for cocaine. The guys who were the purchasers let Rick go.

When Chandler visited Mays in November, 1989, Rick said that Chandler may have said "accused" or "looking" for the raping of three women, Mr. Kebel testified as to the phone bill of March 31, 1989 for the telephone number 813-854-2823. There was a collect call from Gypsy One in Clearwater billing area on May 15, 1989. The call was placed by the marine operator. There were four calls made on November 10, 1989 from Kristal Mays to the 813-854- 2823 number subscribed to Debra Chandler. Ms. White discussed a toll ticket dated July 5, 1989. A marine call was placed from the boat Cigeuner to 813-854-2823 in Tampa, Florida. The ticket was filled out by the operator at the time the vessel was providing the information to make the call. The name given was Obey, O-b-e-y. The call started at 12:38 a.m. and was a two-minute-and-thirty-one second call. Ms. White testified as to a toll ticket for May 15, 1989 showing a toll call of two minutes eight seconds. This particular call connected at 5:49 p.m. Ms. White testified as to a toll ticket for June 2, 1989 showing a toll call made at 1:12 a.m. Ms. White testified as to a toll ticket for June 2, 1989 showing a connect time of 1:30 a.m. The call was a one-minute call. The length of the call made at one-twelve was five minutes. There was another call made on June 2, 1989 at 8:11 a.m. and the duration was for four minutes. Another call on that same date was made at 9:52 a.m. That call was for one minute. According to the phone bill for 813-854-2823, subscriber Debra Chandler, several marine calls were indicated. The first one was for May 15, 1989. There were others for March 17, 1989 and five calls on June 2, 1989. There was one marine call on July 5, 1989. MS White actually went through and found the toll tickets on the microfiche in 1994. Soraya Butler was a marine operator for GTE in 1989. Ms. Butler received a call on May 15, 1989 at about 5:49 p.m. The caller identified himself as Oba and his boat at Gypsy One. She placed a call for him to Tampa.

Elizabeth Beiro was a marine operator for GTE for 31 years. Ms. Beiro received a call on June 2, 1989 at about 1:12 a.m. The caller identified himself as being boat Gypsy One. The caller did not give a first name. The call was placed to 854- 2823. Toll ticket for 1:30 a.m. on June 2, 1989 was placed by Gypsy One. The caller did not identify himself with a personal name. The collect call was sent to the same number as before. The boat that placed the call on July 5, 1989 at 12:38 a.m was the Zigeuner. The caller gave a personal name of Obey. The call went to 854-2823. Carol Voeller was a marine operator for GTE in 1989. She testified as to toll ticket dated June 2, 1989 at 8:11 a.m. The name of the boat calling was the Gypsy and the person calling did not give a personal name. The collect call was to Tampa number 854-2823. Frances Watkins was a marine operator for GTE in 1989. She testified that a collect call was made on June 2, 1989 at 9:52 a.m. from the boat Gypsy One. The caller identified himself as Obie.

In September, 1992 Detective Halliday interviewed the victim, Judy Blair in the rape case that occurred in Madeira Beach. She described the shirt, shoes and hat that Chandler wore on that occasion. Subsequent to that interview in September, 1992, Detective Hall day participated in a search pursuant to warrant of Chandler's residence in Port Orange. During the search law enforcement located a shirt matching the description given by Judy Blair. Detective Halliday also removed a hat and shoes that matched the general description given by Ms. Blair. The search warrant was issued in the Madeira Beach rape case. It was the next morning that he returned to Mr. Chandler's house and searched. Law enforcement performed a meticulous search of the house. They did not find any ladies' purses, material coming from the purses, or clothing relating to the Rogers' case. The green mesh shirt, hat and shoes were seized in the Madeira Beach case based on Judy Blair's description.

Arthur Wayne Stephenson, an inmate in the Florida State Prison System was in the same cell as Chandler on October 23, 1992 and November 3, 1992. At a point in time something was mentioned on the TV concerning the three women they found in the bay and the fact that a note had been found in their car by whoever had given them directions. There was a period of about 3-4 days when the TV would show pictures of recovering the bodies and the note and the handwriting. Chandler would say that he had met these three women somewhere in the area of the stadium on Dale Mabry and sometimes talked about the note. Chandler openly told Stephenson that he had met the three women. Chandler said he gave the women directions to a boat ramp on the Courtney Campbell Causeway. Chandler said he lived in the area of the causeway. Chandler talked about having a boat. Chandler was questioned by detectives about duct tape and the rape case that was mentioned on TV. Chandler told Stephenson that when he met the three women they were from the same state or the same area as he was. Chandler said one of the girls was very attractive. Stephenson identified Oba Chandler in the courtroom. All of the statements made by Chandler to Stephenson were made in a period of about a month.

William Katzer, an inmate in the Florida State Prison system shared a jail cell pod with Chandler from January 16, 1993 to February 25, 1993. It was a four-man pod. Katzer shared a room with Daniel Toby and Chandler and David Rittenhouse shared the other room. At some point in time the program A Current Affair came on the TV. All four inmates were present. After the program aired, Chandler said that "if the bitch didn't resist" he "wouldn't' be here". Chandler said that he had an alibi to cover himself. He said that he had a duped videotape that his wife had where they were going to falsify the date so he would have an alibi for the case that was pertaining to the murders. Katzer became a witness after detectives approached him at the facility where he as at. Katzer identified Chandler in the courtroom.

Blake Leslie, an inmate at the Pinellas County Jail with Chandler in the fall of 1992, testified that Chandler told him that 22 he took a young lady from another country for a ride in this boat. Her friend didn't want her to go. Once he got out 20-30 miles, he told her, "f*ck or swim." He said the only reason she is still around is because somebody was waiting at the boat dock for her. Leslie was approached by law enforcement officers to see if he knew something about been convicted heard Chandler Chandler and he initially lied to them. Leslie had of 9 felonies. Leslie never say anything about any murder, just about rapes.

Oba Chandler took the stand and testified that at the end of May, beginning of June, 1992 he was living with his wife, Debra, and daughter, Whitney, at 10709 Dalton Avenue, Tampa, Florida. At the time, he was an aluminum contractor and the name of the business was Custom Screens. The boat that he owned at the end of May and June, 1989, was a 21-foot Bayliner. It had a blue hull, white interior, blue canvas top. His only hobby was fishing. He said that he did not drink. He bought this 1976 Bayliner from Mr. Derek Galpin for $2,100 and sold it to Mr. Carlton for $5,000. Bob Foley went over to Chandler's house on Memorial Day, 1989. They went out in the boat. It had a marine radio and Chandler knew how to use it. That weekend Chandler sold Mr. Foley a couch and when he returned home, Chandler, his wife and his daughter followed him back to about Sanford because the lights weren't working on his trailer. They turned right around and drove home. Chandler testified that he worked the week after Memorial Day, but he could not remember exactly what he did on May 31 or on June 1, 1989. Chandler did recall meeting Michelle Rogers on June 1. According to him Christe was hanging out of the car and he never met Joan. He only spoke with Michelle; he never spoke with anyone else. Chandler was returning from an estimate and he stopped at a gas station on 50th and I4. When he came back out, Michelle asked him if he knew where the Days Inn on Sixty was. There was a Days Inn right there where they were talking.

He pointed it out to her and Christe stuck her head out of the car hollering, "Rocky Point. Rocky Point." Chandler told them they did not want this one. They wanted the one on Courtney Campbell Causeway. He said that he was very familiar with it. He gave them directions. He said to take the expressway and go around. He did not pay any attention to where they went. He said the conversation took a total of two minutes. Chandler indicated on a map introduced by defense counsel the directions he gave to the women. According to the map and his directions, in order to get on the interstate, one would have to go onto Columbus Drive; which was less than a mile away. Chandler said that he did not write the directions. That they had a pamphlet and he just wrote it on top of the pamphlet. He simply printed on the top of the brochure, "Route Sixty, Courtney Campbell Causeway, Days Inn." That's all he said he did. He did not draw any directions. Chandler testified that he never saw those people again in his life.

He did not kill those people. He did not take them out on his boat. Chandler testified that he probably gave screens to Rollins Cooper on June 1 but he could not say so for sure because his memory was not like that, Chandler never told Rollins Cooper that he had a date with three women. Nor did he have a date with three women. Chandler did not recall whether he paid Rollins Cooper that day for the Betancur job but that based on the records, he obviously did. Chandler was surprised to see the records which indicated that he was out on his boat that night. He thought it was the weekend before the Fourth of July. He recalled the night the calls were made and he was out fishing at the Gandy Bridge. He did not kill anybody that night. He went out about 9:30 or 10:00 that night. He doesn't remember exactly what time it was when he got ready to go home, but when he started his engine up and was pulling his anchor in, the engine died. He started it again, it ran for a second and stopped.

He got out his spotlight and started looking to see if he had an electrical problem. He started smelling gas. He pulled his big hatch away from my engine section and could smell a lot of gas in the bilge. It was obvious the bilge pump was pumping, he had busted a hose and was totallIy out of gas. The boat had an inboard/outboard; with the inboard tank bu ilt into it. It had a forty-gallon tank below the deck. The top on the boat was fiberglass. He had a cover over the top of the engine which was hinged. The hinges would have to be loosened and the whole section would slide. He slid it forward and at that time he smelled a lot of gas. He called home about three times. His purpose was to get assistance and none came. He did not have anyone he could contact to go and get him and tow him. He was stuck on the boat and he just sacked out on the boat. It got daylight and he called home. The Coast Guard came by and he flagged them down. They told him they would come back to give him assistance if they could. They couldn't. Another boat went by and he asked them for a tow to the marina. With daylight, Chandler could see what his problem was and he proceeded to tape the hose where it was leaking. It didn't hold too well, but it did okay. Two guys gave him a tow to the Gandy Bridge Marina, he got five bucks of gas and went back home. He called home again.

Chandler testified that he kept tape and spare parts on his boat. The next day was June 2 and Chandler picked up two orders for jobs. Eventually Chandler sold his boat to Mr. Carlton and bought a 26-footer with a cabin cruiser. Before he sold the boat he replaced the steering wheel because it was broken. Chandler said there were no concrete blocks at his house. When he bought the house it was immaculate. During the next week, Chandler testified that he and his wife went to a Fourth of July party, birthday parties, Memorial Day parties, out to dinner once or twice. Normal, everyday living. In the beginning of June, 1989 the only child around Chandler was his daughter, Whitney. His wife's son, Jay, came down later in the summer from school in Rhode Island. To Mr. Zinober's final direct question, "Did you kill these ladies?" Chandler answered, "I have never killed no one in my whole life. I have never--it's ludicrous. It's ridiculous."

On cross examination, Chandler admitted that he had been convicted of a felony six times. He had been in custody since September, 1992. He said that he was not on the stand to talk about the rape trial; that he was not answering "no questions of the rape trial". He said he would talk about the Rogers homicide but that the rape case was still pending. Assistant State Attorney Doug Crow asked Chandler if he was taking the Fifth Amendment and he replied, "Yes, I am." To which Mr. Crow replied, "You are afraid your answers may incriminate you, is that why you refuse to answer?" Chandler responded, "I have invoked my Fifth Amendment from the rape case from Madeira Beach. I will answer no questions, sir, that relates to that case." Mr. Crow continued, "You are afraid your answers may incriminate you?" Chandler, "NO." "Then you can't take the Fifth Amendment." At this point during the exchange between the prosecutor and Chandler, the court injected, "That is correct." Chandler was directed, "Answer the question, or else you will have to invoke the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination." To which Chandler replied, "I invoke the Fifth Amendment."

Chandler testified that he left his fingerprints and handwriting on the pamphlet that the Rogers women had. He recalled the driver was Michelle as she had been standing on the driver's side of the car. Chandler remembered reading in the paper about three bodies floating up in Tampa Bay. Four days later he recalled seeing the two girls' pictures, along with the mother's, in the paper. He did not realize that they were two of the same women he had met on June 1. He thought the pictures looked entirely different from the people he met.

In November, 1989 Chandler saw a composite in the paper and it was only then that he realized that the women were the ones he had given directions to. The composite related to the Madeira Beach rape. Until May, 1994 when Chandler saw the marine toll bills for the evening of June 1, 1989 and the morning of June 2, he did not have any idea where he was. Chandler testified that his boat has broken down before and he a has stayed out all night in Tampa Bay numerous times. He would go out fishing all night probably two nights a week. Chandler believed that it was about fifteen minutes from the time the boat died and he could not restart it that he made the first phone call. He did not think that he knew the line was broken until the morning when it got daylight, He kept his tanks topped off and a forty-gallon tank was empty. He knew he had not used forty gallons of gas. He knew he had a leak. After Chandler called home, there was another six or seven hours and that he slept during that time. He said he called the Coast Guard and they told him to call a towing service. That it would cost $100 an hour to tow him. He declined. Chandler did not call any commercial services nor any of his friends who had boats. Chandler admitted that he had known since November, 1989 that he was a suspect in the murders. He admitted that he fled the state because he was afraid of the Madeira Beach case. It's connection to the homicide did not worry him that much.

Chandler testified that after the composite came out in the paper and on TV he went to Deltona for three days to visit Leslie Hicks, a prior live-in girlfriend. He did not tell her that he was a suspect in a rape and murder. He said that he went up to Ohio to make money to obtain an attorney. He was afraid the police were looking for him and had his phone tapped. While in Ohio he got with Rick and Kristal and obtained about a thousand dollars and two ounces of cocaine. He did not give it to a lawyer. He returned to Deltona. He had Kristal arrange to have a phone call made to his wife, Debbie, through a pay phone. He wanted to see if the cops had been to his house on the Madeira Beach case. He was concerned about the Rogers' case, but he was more concerned about the Madeira Beach case. Chandler did not recall whether it was he who asked his wife to go to a second pay phone or if it was Kristal's idea. Chandler admitted to Kristal that he was a suspect in a rape case. He said that he also mentioned to her that they were trying to link the Rogers homicide to the rape case. He told her that because he was nervous about it. He was scared. He did not want to go to jail. He needed money. He was not afraid of going to jail on the Rogers homicide. Chandler said that he told Kristal that he was innocent of both crimes. He denied that Kristal ever went to the bathroom. He said that she never left the room. Chandler testified that neither Kristal nor Rick were shocked or upset with what he was telling them. He thought they were concerned about helping him obtain a lawyer. He was chain-smoking cigarettes, but he said that he always did. He smoked two, three packs a day. He said he also always drinks a was positive that he did not back his car up that the tag wouldn't be visible.

Chandler denied telling Rick and Kristal to lie if anybody lot of coffee. He to the building so called looking for him. He was concerned that the police might have had his phone tapped, but he did not think they might try to contact his two daughters in Cincinnati. To the prosecutor's question, "Were you on Madeira Beach on May 14, 1989, Chandler replied, "I plead the Fifth, sir." He did admit to being familiar with the John's Pass area. He said that he had been out to that area prior to May, 1989. He did not have any jobs or friends in that area. Chandler plead the Fifth on response to five consecutive questions regarding the Madeira Beach rape. Chandler admitted to keeping duct tape over the broken steering wheel of his boat. Chandler invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege twice more in the presence of the jury regarding the rape case. The court admonished Chandler for refusing to answer the State's questions. He was told that because he had taken the stand, the State could ask him questions. He could plead the Fifth Or answer the questions. The State asked another question regarding the Madeira Beach rape and, once again, Chandler plead the Fifth.

Defense counsel requested a side-bar conference and asked for a continuing objection. This request for a standing objection was overruled because the court maintained that she had heard him answer some questions when she thought he might have taken the Fifth. He was not taking the Fifth every time. Chandler said that he kept a knife on the boat but that he did not keep any other weapons on the boat. He said the knife was not a weapon; that it was used for fishing, cutting line, cutting rope, He kept anchor line on the boat. He had two 100-foot anchors on the boat. He also had tie-off line which he kept up front on the boat. The Bayliner boat did not have any carpet in it at any time that Chandler knew of. The boat had a Volvo engine. On the morning of June 2, in daylight Chandler discovered he had a broken fuel line and he put tape over it. His bilge pump had pumped out forty gallons of gasoline into the bay. He said that he did not know when the gas had leaked out. It could have leaked out at his dock. Chandler said that he had an automatic bilge on his boat. At daybreak he said that he saw three Coast Guard people in a Zodiac, two men and a woman. He flagged them down with his shirt. They came over to him and he asked them if the could tow him in. They replied that they had to--something like a body was on the rock or something was on the rock; and that they'd be right back. In the meantime, after about ten to twenty minutes, two guys came by Chandler in a boat. He flagged them. They came over and pulled him over to Gandy. He put five or six bucks of gas into the boat and went home. Chandler did not recall the time he was towed. The boat towed him to the Gandy Bridge Marina on the east side of Tampa Bay. He had been out about a quarter of a mile from where the boats have to go underneath the bridge. They towed him about three to four miles at idle speed. It took maybe an hour. Chandler testified that he arrived home probably twenty minutes to half an hour after he left the marina. Chandler said that after he got home, he went to work.

Based on the documents Chandler previously looked at, he had shown up between 7:15 and 7:30 on June 2, 1989 at Ms. Capo's house. However, Chandler did not recall being there at that period of time. Chandler recalled that there were a series of phone tolls made while he was still out on the boat between one and two a.m. and eight fifteen to nine fifty-two. Chandler could not say for sure what time of day he went to Ashley Aluminum or Ms. Capo's. He did not recall talking to Ms. Capo that morning. He said that Rollins Cooper could have picked up the materials that morning. However, Cooper's signature was not on the material sheets for June 2.

At some point after his return to Deltona from Cincinnati, Chandler returned to his wife and daughter. He said that he didn't know why he returned. Chandler testified that he was still concerned that he could be arrested. He did not do anything to try to keep people from finding him. He went back to work. He admitted that he had fear in his head that he was a suspect and that his photograph was in the paper to the day he was arrested. In July, 1990 Chandler and his wife and daughter tried to move to California. He did not tell his friends, even Mr. Foley. Chandler did not tell his daughter. He said that his sister did not know. That he was not close to his sister. He was not close to anyone in his family. They went to California for fifteen, twenty days. They found it was too expensive so they came back. They did not return to Dalton Avenue. Chandler testified that his business was going under and he said that he couldn't afford the house. His wife's income was about a fourth of what she normally made. He had too many bills to pay. He had to let them foreclose on his house. Chandler testified that he left Cincinnati with twenty or thirty thousand dollars in his pocket as a result of the drug rip-off that he and Rick Mays did. He did not go to a lawyer to hire him. At that time getting money for a lawyer on the Madeira Beach rape case was of no concern of his. After the drug deal, Chandler took the money and they moved to Sunrise. After that they moved to Ormond Beach. They stayed there a year. Then they moved to Port Orange. He did not tell Mr. Foley, who was living in Port Orange, that he was there. His family did not know where he was. The phone was in his daughter's name. The phone was in her name because they had bad credit and couldn't get it in their name. He was concerned about being arrested in the Rogers homicide but he always thought it would be solved. He was more worried about doing a life sentence for a rape case. The Days Inn on Courtney Campbell Causeway was in the area where he lived when he lived on Dalton Avenue.

Chandler testified that he had been in the canals back where the dock was at the Days Inn once or twice, but that he was not real familiar with it. With the aid of a photograph of the full view of the engine of the boat, Chandler testified that the broken line was in the front of the engine. The gas line came up from the gas tank which was under the floor. The gas tank was below deck. Although he repaired the gas line, he did not know whether it was busted before the gas tank or not. Chandler had not ever heard of an antisyphon valve. He was aware of a device that would prevent the gas from leaking out but that was with the engine, not the tank. The line went only to the fuel pump. There was no valve there that stopped it from coming out. Although he did not know if it was the top or the bottom of the gas tank, Chandler said that the break in the line was where it went to the gas tank. Chandler testified that when he gave directions to Michelle and Christe, Michelle was out of the car and Christe was coming out over top of the driver's side window.

Then Chandler corrected himself and said that although he did not know where Christe was sitting, she stuck her head out of the front window. Chandler could not recall whether it was the passenger or backseat window. Michelle handed him the brochure he wrote the directions on. The Rogers were parked down by the pumps at the gas station and that is where he had pulled up. Chandler said that in giving Michelle directions, he never mentioned Boy Scout to them. He never mentioned Columbus to them. He could not recall what time of day it was. And he did not remember if they drove off while he was still there. He did not recall writing anything else on the brochure. He identified his handwriting in pencil on the brochure. He had used their pencil. His handwriting was in pen at the bottom also. He had used their pen. Oba denied switching from pencil to pen. He said that he may have written both in pen. Could have been either. Chandler denied drawing a line, the circle, the X, or the words on the brochure. They were not a part of the discussion with the girls. He did not have any casual conversation with them about Busch Gardens; where they were from. He did not notice that the tags on their car were from Ohio.

He estimated Michelle's age to be anywhere from seventeen to nineteen. She was pretty. He did not pay much attention to Christe. He did not give them directions to the Westshore Mall. Chandler had contact with Customs agents in 1991. He denied making repeated inquiries to them as to the status of the Rogers homicide investigation. The only case Chandler said he ever discussed with Customs was making money from selling drugs. He never discussed the Madeira Beach rape case with them. The State questioned Chandler twice about the Madeira Beach rape and he plead the Fifth both times in the presence of the jury. Defense counsel's motion for mistrial based upon Mr. Chandler being required to go over the privilege was denied in side-bar conference.

Chandler totally disputed what Kristal and Rick May said; it never happened. He also disputed what some of the people from the jail testified as to what he had said. The state presented several rebuttal witnesses. Among these witnessess was Detective Ralph Pflieger who testified that he reviewed all the evidence from the Rogers' hotel room and did not find any Maas Brothers receipts, bags, or merchandise tags.

A cellmate of Chandler's, Edwin Ojeda, testified that he overheard Chandler tell another prisoner, Daniel Maxwell, that his biggest mistake was leaving the note in the car. Coast Guardsman Robert Wesley Shidner was recalled to the stand. He disputed Chandler's claim that on the morning after the Rogers were killed, he flagged down three Coast Guard people in a Zodiac, two men and a woman and that they told him they had "to-- something like a body was on the rock or something was on the rock; and that they'd be right back." Shidner testified that the Coast Guard does not make routine patrols and that on June 2, 1989, there was not a crew out on Tampa Bay looking for a body. He also testified that the standard crew is two on a boat at a time, but that they had a three-person crew on June 4 to help retrieve the Rogers' bodies and that on June 2, 1989, the Coast Guard boat never left the St. Petersburg station.

To rebut Chandler's claim that he was out all night because he ran out of gas, the state presented a certified boat mechanic, James Hensley, who testified that Chandler's fuel line was possibly still the original, it was in good shape and showed no signs of repair. He also testified that gas dissolves tape so it would not repair a leaking gas line. Further, fuel does not leak out when there is a hole in the gas line because of the anti-syphoning valve. Even if the anti-syphoning valve failed, it would not have leaked because Chandler's tank was on the bottom of the boat with the gas line coming out of the top of the motor. If the gas line broke, the engine would suck air and stop, but the gas would stay in the tank. Customs Officer Whitney Azure testified that Chandler asked him several times about the Rogers investigation.

At the close of the evidence the jury returned a verdict of guilty of murder in the first degree, as charged. The penalty phase was scheduled for the next day. Chandler waived the presentation of any mitigating evidence. Defense counsel put on the record that he would have called a mental health expert, as well as family members. Chandler confirmed that he did not wish to present any mitigating evidence.

The state presented judgment and sentences for prior armed robberies. The state also presented the armed robbery victims, Peggy Harrington and Robert Plemmons, who testified as to the underlying facts of the prior armed robberies. Peggy Harrington testified that while she was at a jeweler's remount show Chandler robbed her and a partner at gunpoint of $750,000 in jewelery. FDLE agent John Halliday testified that the gun, as well as some of the jewelery, was recovered during the search of Chandler's house on September 25, 1992. Robert Plemmons testified that Chandler and another man kicked in the front door of his home in Holly Hill. Chandler hit him in the head with a pistol. Chandler took Plemmons' girlfriend in the bedroom where she was tied up on the bed and stripped from the waist down. Judge Schaeffer sustained an objection to Plemmons' testifying as to what his girlfriend told him had happened in the bedroom. Chandler presented some documentary evidence as mitigating evidence, including college credits. The jury returned three 12-0 recommendations for death.


Chandler v. State, 702 So.2d 186 (Fla. 1997). (Direct Appeal)

Defendant was convicted, following jury trial in the Circuit Court in and for Pinellas County, Susan F. Schaeffer, J., of three counts of first–degree murder, and was sentenced to death. Defendant appealed. The Supreme Court held that: (1) defendant's claim that prosecutor engaged in improper personal attacks during closing argument was procedurally barred on appeal; (2) collateral crime evidence was relevant to identity, plan, scheme, intent, motive and opportunity, and was sufficiently similar to murders at issue to be admissible; (3) defense counsel's request for standing objection to cross–examination of defendant was insufficient to preserve for appeal claim that cross–examination exceeded scope of direct; (4) cross–examination of defendant concerning collateral rape as to which he did not testify on direct examination was legitimate attack on defendant's credibility; (5) defendant's repeated invocation of his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent in response to state's cross–examination concerning collateral rape did not prejudice defendant; (6) prior consistent statement of defendant's daughter was admissible as rebuttal of suggestion of more recent fabrication; (7) any error in admission of such statement was harmless; (8) defendant's waiver of his right to put on mitigating evidence during penalty phase was knowing, intelligent, and valid; (9) trial court's determination that there was inadequate proof that defendant had suffered childhood trauma offered by him in nonstatutory mitigation satisfied court's obligation to evaluate nonstatutory mitigating circumstances; and (10) death sentences were proportionate to other cases in which sentences of death were imposed. Convictions and sentence affirmed.


We have on appeal the judgments and sentences of the trial court imposing the death penalty upon appellant Oba Chandler. *189 We have jurisdiction. Art. V, § 3(b)(1), Fla. Const. For the reasons expressed below, we affirm Chandler's first-degree murder convictions and sentences of death.


The record reflects that the body of Joan Rogers and those of her two daughters, Michelle and Christe, were discovered floating in Tampa Bay on June 4, 1989. Each body was nude from the waist down. Joan's hands were tied behind her back, her ankles were tied together, and the yellow rope around her neck was attached to a concrete block. Christe's hands and ankles were similarly tied, and she had duct tape on her face or head and a rope around her neck.FN1 Michelle's left hand was free with only a loop of rope attached, her ankles were bound, she had duct tape on her face or head, and the rope around her neck was attached to a concrete block.

FN1. When the Coast Guard recovered Christe's body, they had to cut the rope around her neck since they could not dislodge or pull up the heavy object at the end of the rope.

The assistant medical examiner, Dr. Edward Corcoran, performed autopsies that same day. He determined that the cause of death for each victim was either asphyxiation due to strangulation from the ropes tied around their necks or drowning.

The Rogers family was vacationing in Florida and had checked into a Days Inn in Tampa on June 1. One week later, housekeepers notified the general manager that the Rogers' room had not been inhabited for several days. The general manager contacted the police, who secured the room and obtained the hotel's records for the room. The police subsequently found the Rogers' car parked at a boat ramp on the Courtney Campbell Causeway.

Among the items recovered from the car was a handwritten note on Days Inn stationery and a Clearwater Beach brochure. The note read, “Turn right. West W on 60, two and one-half miles before the bridge on the right side at light, blue w/wht.” FBI agent James Mathis determined that the handwriting was that of Joan Rogers. Theresa Stubbs from FDLE determined that some of the handwriting on the Clearwater Beach brochure was Chandler's, while other writing may have been Joan Rogers'. Samuel McMullin, a fingerprint expert for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Department, found Chandler's palm print on the brochure.

Rollins Cooper worked as a subcontractor for Chandler at the time of the murders. He testified at trial that on June 1, Chandler appeared to be in a big hurry after bringing Cooper some screen. When asked why, Chandler told Cooper that he had a date with three women. Cooper met Chandler the next morning at 7:05 a.m.; when asked why he looked grubby, Chandler replied that he had been out on his boat all night.

Judy Blair and her friend, Barbara Mottram, both Canadian tourists, testified regarding Chandler's rape of Blair several weeks prior to the Rogers' murders. After meeting the women at a convenience store, Chandler, who identified himself as “Dave,” arranged to take them out on his boat the next day. The following morning, May 15, 1989, Mottram decided not to go out on Chandler's boat, so Blair met Chandler alone. Blair testified that Chandler seemed disappointed when told Mottram would not be joining them. After boating for several hours, Blair and Chandler returned to the dock. Chandler asked Blair to get Mottram to join them for an after-dinner boat trip. Again, Blair could not convince Mottram to join them. Blair testified that Chandler seemed “ticked off” when she told him Mottram would not be joining them. Subsequently, Chandler began making advances to Blair after the boat entered the Gulf of Mexico. Despite Blair's refusals and attempts to resist him, Chandler raped her. Chandler and Blair then returned to shore. The next day, Blair told Mottram what happened and reported the rape to the police. At trial, she identified the clothing Chandler had been wearing that night. Mottram picked Chandler's photograph out of a photo pack and identified him in a lineup and in court.

Chandler visited his daughter, Kristal Mays, and her husband Rick in Cincinnati in November 1989. Kristal later testified that Chandler told her he could not go back to *190 Florida because the police were looking for him for killing some women. While Chandler never admitted to the killings, Kristal testified that he likewise never claimed innocence. Similarly, Rick Mays thought Chandler had committed the murders from the way he described how the police were looking for him as a murder suspect.

During another visit to Cincinnati in October 1990, Chandler had Rick Mays set up a drug deal. Before absconding with some of the drug dealers' money, Chandler put a gun to Rick's head and said, “Family don't mean s___ to me.” After Chandler fled, Rick was badly beaten up and almost killed. The Mays' house was also damaged by the drug dealers. This series of incidents forced Kristal Mays to drop out of nursing school. She was upset and told Rick to call the police and report that Chandler “put a gun on him.”

After Chandler was arrested in September 1992, Kristal was contacted and cooperated with the police and she began to tape their conversations. She gave a sworn statement to the state attorney's office on October 6, 1992. Kristal had been convicted of a crime involving dishonesty and appeared on the television show Hard Copy in 1994 to discuss her father's alleged role in the murders in return for a $1000 fee. Robert Carlton testified that he bought a blue and white boat from Chandler in July or August 1989. Carlton recalled seeing concrete blocks at the Chandler house and that some of the concrete blocks had three holes and some had two.

Arthur Wayne Stephenson shared a cell with Chandler for ten days in late October 1992. He testified at trial that after viewing television reports about the recovery of the victims' bodies from Tampa Bay, Chandler said that he had met the three women and given them directions to a boat ramp on the Courtney Campbell Causeway. Chandler told Stephenson that one of the girls was very attractive.

Blake Leslie, an inmate at the Pinellas County Jail with Chandler in the fall of 1992, testified that Chandler told him that he took a young lady from another country for a ride in his boat. Her friend did not want to go. Once he got out twenty to thirty miles, Chandler told her to have sex with him or swim for it. Chandler allegedly said that the only reason that woman was still around is because somebody was waiting for her at the boat dock. Leslie, who had been convicted of nine felonies, never heard Chandler speak of murders, only rapes.

Several marine operators for GTE FN2 testified to collect calls made from a caller identifying himself as Oba, Obey, Obie, or no personal name and his boat as Gypsy or Gypsy One, from March 17 to June 2, 1989. The calls were placed to a number registered to Debra Chandler, Chandler's wife. One of the operators, Elizabeth Beiro, testified that she received three collect calls for Debra Chandler's telephone number, at 1:12 and 1:30 a.m. on June 2, 1989. The caller did not give a first name, although he identified his boat as Gypsy One. Later that same morning, at 9:52 a.m., Frances Watkins received a collect call from Gypsy One; the caller identified himself as Obie. FN2. Soraya Butler, Elizabeth Beiro, Carl Voeller, and Frances Watkins.

Chandler testified that he met Michelle Rogers when he stopped at a gas station. He testified that he had a very brief conversation with Michelle, giving her directions to the Days Inn on Highway 60. Chandler maintained that he never saw any of the Rogers family again after this short encounter and adamantly denied killing them. He also testified that he never told Rollins Cooper that he had a date with three women. Chandler claimed that he was out on his boat all night because his engine died after a hose burst, spilling all of his fuel. He testified that two men in a boat gave him a tow to Gandy Bridge Marina, where he put some fuel in his boat. In rebuttal, James Hensley, a certified boat mechanic, testified that Chandler's fuel line was possibly still the original, was in good shape, and showed no signs of repair. Hensley stated that even if there had been a hole in the fuel line, it would not have leaked because of the anti-syphoning valve.

When asked about details surrounding the rape of Judy Blair, Chandler invoked his *191 Fifth Amendment right to remain silent twenty-one times, although he did answer some questions regarding his perception of the link between the rape and the murders.

After the jury trial concluded, Chandler was found guilty of all three counts of murder on September 29, 1994. The jury reconvened for the penalty phase the next day. During the penalty phase, Chandler waived the presentation of any testimonial mitigating evidence. However, he did present some documentary evidence, including records showing that he obtained his high school equivalency diploma and earned college credits while in prison. The State presented the judgments and sentences of Chandler's prior armed robberies. The robbery victims also testified about the details of those crimes.

The jury recommended a death sentence for each of the murders by a vote of twelve to zero later that same day. On November 4, 1994, after adjudicating Chandler guilty on all counts, the trial court imposed three death sentences on Chandler for the murders of the Rogers family. FN3. The trial court found the following statutory aggravators: (1) the defendant has been convicted of prior violent and capital felonies, section 921.141(5)(b), Florida Statutes (1993); (2) the murders were committed during the commission of a kidnapping, section 921.141(5)(d); (3) the murders were committed to avoid arrest, section 921.141(5)(e); and (4) the murders were especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel, section 921.141(5)(h). No statutory mitigators were presented or proved. Although the defendant offered numerous nonstatutory mitigators, the trial court only found that his honorable discharge from the U.S. Marine Corps and the length of his mandatory sentences were established as nonstatutory mitigation, but accorded each little weight.


Chandler raises seven claims of error on appeal.FN4 Claim (4) is procedurally barred since no contemporaneous objections were registered to the prosecutor's alleged personal attacks against Chandler, Sims v. State, 681 So.2d 1112, 1116–17 (Fla.1996) cert. denied, 520 U.S. 1199, 117 S.Ct. 1558, 137 L.Ed.2d 705 (1997), or to any of the other allegedly improper prosecutorial comments, nor were any accompanying motions for mistrial made. Allen v. State, 662 So.2d 323, 328 (Fla.1995)(requiring contemporaneous objection and accompanying motion for mistrial to preserve allegedly improper prosecutorial comments for appellate review). Since we do not find that the prosecutor's comments during closing argument constitute fundamental error,FN5 this claim of error is procedurally barred. See Kilgore v. State, 688 So.2d 895, 898 (Fla.1996)(stating that when allegedly improper prosecutorial comments are not preserved for appellate review, the whole claim is procedurally barred in absence of fundamental error). We address the remaining issues in turn.

FN4. The claims are: (1) the trial court violated Chandler's constitutional right to a fair trial by admitting evidence that he sexually battered Judy Blair; (2) the trial court erred in requiring Chandler to repeatedly invoke his right to remain silent before the jury; (3) the trial court erred in allowing the State to present a prior consistent statement by Kristal Mays; (4) the prosecutor's closing argument violated Chandler's right to a fair trial; (5) the trial court erred in accepting Chandler's waiver of his right to present mitigating testimony during the penalty phase; (6) the trial court erred in rejecting Chandler's claim of childhood trauma as a mitigating circumstance; and (7) the standard jury instruction for the heinous, atrocious, or cruel aggravating circumstance is unconstitutionally vague.

FN5. The prosecutor's comment that Chandler never told his daughters or son-in-law that he was innocent was a fair characterization of the evidence, while his other comments about Chandler and his counsel were thoughtless and petty, e.g., counsel engaged in “cowardly” and “despicable” conduct and Chandler was “malevolent ... a brutal rapist and conscienceless murderer,” but not so prejudicial as to vitiate the entire trial. Esty v. State, 642 So.2d 1074, 1079 (Fla.1994); Bertolotti v. State, 476 So.2d 130 (Fla.1985).

Collateral Crime Evidence

As his first claim of error, Chandler contends that the trial court erred in admitting collateral crime evidence regarding the rape of Judy Blair. As the parties note, we established the rule regarding admission of collateral crime evidence in Williams v. State, 110 So.2d 654 (Fla.1959), and enunciated the following standard for admitting such evidence: Our view of the proper rule simply is that relevant evidence will not be excluded *192 merely because it relates to similar facts which point to the commission of a separate crime. The test of admissibility is relevancy. The test of inadmissibility is a lack of relevancy. Id. at 659–60. More recently, in Hayes v. State, 660 So.2d 257 (Fla.1995), we observed that:

The Evidence Code, under section 90.404(2)(a), Florida Statutes (1993), allows a party to introduce similar fact evidence of other crimes when it is relevant to prove a material fact in issue. In Drake v. State, 400 So.2d 1217 (Fla.1981), we set forth the principles of how this evidentiary provision should be applied. See also Thompson v. State, 494 So.2d 203 (Fla.1986); Peek v. State, 488 So.2d 52 (Fla.1986). In Drake, we stated: Williams v. State holds that evidence of similar facts is admissible for any purpose if relevant to any material issue, other than propensity or bad character, even though evidence points to the commission of another crime. The material issue to be resolved by the similar facts evidence in the present case is identity, which the State sought to prove by showing Drake's mode of operating.

The mode of operating theory of proving identity is based on both the similarity of and the unusual nature of the factual situations being compared. A mere general similarity will not render the similar facts legally relevant to show identity. There must be identifiable points of similarity which pervade the compared factual situations. Given sufficient similarity, in order for the similar facts to be relevant the points of similarity must have some special character or be so unusual as to point to the defendant. Drake, 400 So.2d at 1219 (emphasis added). Hayes, 660 So.2d at 261 (second emphasis added) (citations omitted). The common thread in our Williams rule decisions has been that startling similarities in the facts of each crime and the uniqueness of modus operandi will determine the admissibility of collateral crime evidence.

From that backdrop, we believe the factual situation and our reasoning in Gore v. State, 599 So.2d 978 (Fla.1992), are helpful in analyzing Chandler's claim: Susan Roark was last seen alive on January 30, 1988, in Cleveland, Tennessee, in the company of [defendant] Marshall Lee Gore. Gore had planned to travel to Florida with a friend from Cleveland. While waiting for his friend at a convenience store, Gore struck up a conversation with Roark. Gore then entered Roark's car, a black Mustang, and they drove away. Gore accompanied Roark to a party at the home of a friend of hers. Roark had planned to spend the night at her friend's home. Sometime between 11:30 and 12:00, Roark left to drive Gore home. She never returned. The following day Roark's grandmother reported her missing. She had been expected home by 7 a.m. that morning. Gore arrived in Tampa on January 31, driving a black Mustang. He convinced a friend to help him pawn several items of jewelry later identified as belonging to Roark. Gore then proceeded to Miami, where police subsequently recovered Roark's Mustang after it was abandoned in a two-car accident. Gore's fingerprint was found in the car, as well as a traffic ticket which had been issued to him while he was in Miami.

On April 2, 1988, the skeletonized remains of Roark's body were discovered in Columbia County, Florida.... .... The testimony of Tina Corolis was admitted as evidence of a collateral crime. Corolis was a casual acquaintance of Gore's, whom she knew as “Tony.” In March of 1988, Gore called Corolis at her home and told her that his car had broken down and he needed a ride to it. After they had driven around for several hours, Gore revealed a knife, gained control of the car, and drove to a partially wooded dumping area off a dirt road. He put the knife to Corolis' stomach, forced her to undress, and raped her. He then dragged her out of the car, punched her face against a rock, *193 strangled her, and stabbed her in the neck, arms, legs, and buttocks. Shortly thereafter Gore pawned several items of Corolis' jewelry and then proceeded to Kentucky in her car.

Gore argues that this case is comparable to Drake v. State, 400 So.2d 1217 (Fla.1981), in that the collateral crime is not sufficiently similar to the crime at issue and the claimed similarities are not unique enough to qualify as evidence of identity.... In rejecting the collateral crimes evidence as evidence of the identity of the murderer, we noted that “[a] mere general similarity will not render the similar facts legally relevant to show identity. There must be identifiable points of similarity which pervade the compared factual situations.” Id. at 1219.

We find that the Corolis crime does have the required pervasive similarities. The significant common features of the two crimes include the following: The victim was a small female with dark hair; Gore introduced himself as “Tony”; he had no automobile of his own; he was with the victim for a lengthy amount of time before the attack began; he used or threatened to use binding; the attack had both a sexual and pecuniary motive; the victim suffered trauma to the neck area; Gore transported the victim to the site of the attack in the victim's car; the victim was attacked at a trash pile on a dirt road, where the body was then left; Gore stole the victim's car and jewelry; he pawned the jewelry shortly after the theft; he fled in the victim's automobile, leaving the state where the victim was apprehended and staying with a friend or relative for a period of time after the crime; and he represented the car to be a gift or loan from a girlfriend or relative.

Gore argues that there are dissimilarities between the two incidents as well.... Here, however, the similarities are pervasive, and the dissimilarities insubstantial. This Court has never required the collateral crime to be absolutely identical to the crime charged. The few dissimilarities here seem to be a result of differences in the opportunities with which Gore was presented, rather than differences in modus operandi. See Chandler v. State, 442 So.2d 171, 173 (Fla.1983). For example, the most significant difference between the two crimes—that Roark was murdered while Corolis was not— seems to be more of a fortuitous circumstance than a reflection of Gore's intent in the Corolis crime, since he beat her, stabbed her, and left her for dead in an isolated area.

Gore also argues that the similar features of the two crimes are not sufficiently unique to serve as evidence of identity.... While the common points between the Corolis assault and the Roark murder may not be sufficiently unique or unusual when considered individually, they do establish a sufficiently unique pattern of criminal activity when all of the common points are considered together. The cumulative effect of the numerous similarities between the two crimes is the establishment of a unique modus operandi which points to Gore as the perpetrator of the Roark homicide. We find no error in the admission of evidence of Gore's attack on Corolis. Id. at 980–84 (emphasis added).

In this case, the trial court's detailed order admitting the collateral crime evidence found the following fourteen similarities between the Blair rape and the Rogers' murders: (1) All the victims were tourists; (2) the victims were young white females between 14 and 36; (3) the victims were similar in height and weight; (4) the victims met Chandler by chance encounter where he rendered assistance to them; (5) the victims agreed to accompany Chandler on a sunset cruise within twenty-four hours of meeting him; (6) Chandler was non-threatening and convincing that he was safe to be with alone; (7) a blue and white boat was used for both crimes; (8) a camera was taken to record the sunset in both crimes; (9) duct tape was used or threatened to be used; (10) there was a sexual motive for both crimes; (11) the crimes occurred in large bodies of water in the Tampa Bay area on a boat at night under the cover of darkness; (12) homicidal violence occurred or was threatened; (13) the crimes occurred within seventeen or eighteen *194 days of each other; and (14) telephone calls were made to Chandler's home from his boat while still embarked either before or after these crimes. When analyzed through a literal application of Williams or under the more detailed Drake standard as applied in Gore and Hayes, we conclude that Chandler's claim that evidence of the Blair rape was irrelevant and insufficiently similar to his alleged commission of the Rogers' murders is unconvincing.FN6

FN6. To support his argument, Chandler directs our attention to Drake v. State, 400 So.2d 1217 (Fla.1981); Thompson v. State, 494 So.2d 203 (Fla.1986); and Peek v. State, 488 So.2d 52 (Fla.1986), wherein we found that the prior sexual crimes of the defendants in those cases were inadmissible in their murder prosecutions since the collateral crimes were insufficiently similar. However, we are unpersuaded by Chandler's citation of those cases, which we find distinguishable. For example, the only similarity between the crimes in Drake was that the victims' hands were tied behind their backs and they had left a bar with the defendant. 400 So.2d at 1219. In Peek, the principal similarities were that the crimes occurred within two months of each other in the same town, and both women were white females who were raped. 488 So.2d at 55. In Thompson, the primary similarities were that both victims were approximately the same age and build; both crimes occurred near a particular church parking lot; and the defendant was having domestic problems on both occasions. 494 So.2d at 204. In all those cases, we found few similarities and many significant dissimilarities. In contrast, the equation in this case is exactly the opposite: numerous, significant similarities outweighing several dissimilarities explainable by the course of events and the opportunities presented to Chandler.

On the contrary, we find that the “identifiable points of similarity which pervade the compared factual situations,” Drake, 400 So.2d at 1219, include “chance encounters” in public places with young female tourists to whom Chandler offered assistance; almost immediate offers of cruises on his boat; the same blue and white boat used for both crimes; a warm, non-threatening demeanor that convinced the eventual victims to accompany Chandler on his boat within twenty-four hours of meeting him; sexual motive with all victims stripped from the waist down; use or threatened use of duct tape; crimes occurring in large bodies of water under cover of darkness; murder committed or threatened; and commission of the crimes within a brief time frame seventeen to eighteen days of each other.

We recognize that the crimes are not exactly the same. However, that fact alone does not preclude admission of collateral crime evidence and, indeed, would erect an almost impossible standard of admissibility. Gore, 599 So.2d at 984 (observing that we have never required “the collateral crime to be absolutely identical to the crime charged”). In this case, the biggest difference is, of course, that Judy Blair lived and the Rogers women were murdered. However, even that dissimilarity may be attributed to “differences in the opportunities with which [Chandler] was presented, rather than differences in modus operandi.” Id. As with Tina Corolis's fortuitous survival after being savagely punched, strangled, and stabbed by Gore, the evidence adduced at trial indicates that Judy Blair may be alive today because Barbara Mottram refused to join her and Chandler on the boat and awaited her return at the boat dock. We note that Mottram refused to go for a cruise not once, but twice. Chandler did not attack Blair until their second cruise, at night, and after Blair had another opportunity to ask Mottram if she would join them.

With the Blair rape evidence before her, the trial judge found that it was relevant to establish Chandler's identity as the Rogers' killer; relevant to show Chandler's plan, scheme, intent, and motive to lure women tourists aboard his boat for a sunset cruise “to commit violence upon them;” and relevant to establish Chandler's opportunity FN7 to commit the Rogers' murders on his boat. Accordingly,*195 the trial judge concluded that the “unique similarities in these two crimes tie the same individual—Oba Chandler—to both crimes.” Since the two crimes “establish a sufficiently unique pattern of criminal activity when all of the common points are considered together,” Gore, 599 So.2d at 984, and the evidence presented Chandler's “unique modus operandi,” id., we find no abuse of discretion in the trial court's admission of the Williams rule evidence.

FN7. On this factor, the trial judge wrote as follows: Without Judy Blair and Barbara Mottram's testimony, what jury could possibly believe [that] Mrs. Rogers and her two children would board Chandler's boat for a sunset cruise within 24 hours of having met him? This was a critical question the State had to answer at trial. The Blair incident was relevant and necessary to answer that question. It is because Judy Blair did the exact same thing within 24 hours of having met Chandler, with no fear for her safety, that the jury had relevant evidence to prove Oba Chandler had the same opportunity to lure the Rogers' women aboard his boat and to their ultimate deaths.

Fifth Amendment Right to Remain Silent

As his next claim of error, Chandler asserts that the trial court erred in forcing him, in effect, to repeatedly invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination before the jury in response to questions about the Blair rape. This claim is without merit.

At the outset, we agree with the State that much of Chandler's claim that cross-examination impermissibly exceeded the scope of direct examination is procedurally barred since no contemporaneous objection was made. Geralds v. State, 674 So.2d 96, 99 (Fla.), cert. denied, 519 U.S. 891, 117 S.Ct. 230, 136 L.Ed.2d 161 (1996). Defense counsel's request for a standing objection FN8 was denied since, as the trial judge stated, “[n]one of us has any idea what he is going to say, and I can't rule magically, so don't ask that.” FN9 Counsel did not renew his objection contemporaneously and thus this sub-claim is procedurally barred. Geralds.

FN8. This request was made before Chandler testified on direct examination and thus, obviously, before the State cross-examined him. FN9. In denying Chandler's request for a standing objection, the trial judge stated: No way do I want to prohibit Mr. Chandler from testifying before this jury. No way do I want to prohibit the State from cross-examining Mr. Chandler about matters that I have ruled are relevant to this case. That puts Mr. Chandler in a tough dilemma. That really isn't my concern. That's your concern and Mr. Chandler's concern.... [To defense counsel]: You knew how the court was going to rule. We went over this last night with everybody present. I'm sure you talked to your client after that. Certainly [it] cannot come as a surprise to you or your client. This is exactly what I said last night. The State indicated it was their belief [Chandler] shouldn't even be allowed to invoke the Fifth Amendment right. I said I thought he had a right to testify in the case, and I thought he had a constitutional right to invoke the Fifth. He does want to testify or doesn't? Defense counsel: One second, please. He is going to testify. (Emphasis added.)

As to Chandler's claim regarding the prosecutor's questions about the Blair rape, we believe that this issue constitutes a classic case of trying to take the wind out of your opponent's sails by pre-emptively admitting extremely prejudicial evidence and thereby softening the blow. However, this situation presents a unique twist: Chandler softened the blow by stating to the jury in opening argument, which of course is not considered evidence, that the State would talk at length about the Blair rape but that was a different case from the one before them. Thereafter, when the time came, defense counsel did not allude to the Blair rape during his direct examination of Chandler. In that way, the State presumably could not address that subject matter when cross-examining Chandler since the issue was not broached on direct examination. See Hunter v. State, 660 So.2d 244, 251 (Fla.1995) (finding trial court did not err in limiting attempted cross-examination of police detective which was “clearly outside the scope of direct”); § 90.612(2), Fla. Stat. (1993)(limiting cross examination “to the subject matter of direct examination and matters affecting the credibility of the witness ... [although the] court may, in its discretion, permit inquiry into additional matters”).

Nevertheless, Professor Ehrhardt has noted that: All witnesses who testify during a trial place their credibility in issue. Regardless of the subject matter of the witness' testimony, a party on cross-examination may inquire into matters that affect the truthfulness of the witness' testimony. Although cross-examination is generally limited to the scope of the direct examination, the credibility of the witness is always a proper subject of cross-examination. The credibility of a criminal defendant who *196 takes the stand and testifies may be attacked in the same manner as any other witness. Charles W. Ehrhardt, Florida Evidence § 608.1 at 385 (1997 ed.) (footnotes omitted). See also Shere v. State, 579 So.2d 86, 90 (Fla.1991) (recognizing the general rule that the “purpose of cross examination is to elicit testimony favorable to the cross-examining party ... and to challenge the witness's credibility when appropriate”). Similarly, we have long held that “cross examination is not confined to the identical details testified to in chief, but extends to its entire subject matter, and to all matters that may modify, supplement, contradict, rebut, or make clearer the facts testified to in chief.” Geralds v. State, 674 So.2d 96, 99 (Fla.1996) (quoting Coco v. State, 62 So.2d 892, 895 (Fla.1953)); Coxwell v. State, 361 So.2d 148, 151 (Fla.1978) (same).

In Geralds, we recently denied a similar claim from the defendant that the prosecutor's cross-examination about evidence linking him to the murder was beyond the scope of the defendant's testimony on direct. 674 So.2d at 99–100. We noted that on direct examination, the defendant's testimony covered six general subjects, including his denial that he murdered the victim. Id. at 100. Since the defendant opened the door on that subject, we concluded that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in allowing questions about evidence linking the defendant to the crime. Id.

Likewise, in this case, Chandler testified on direct examination about his line of work; his family; his boat; his work-related activities from May 31 to June 2, 1989; his encounter with the Rogers family on June 1, 1989, at the convenience store where he gave them directions to a Days Inn; his fishing trip the evening of June 1, 1989, where he was allegedly stranded in Tampa Bay due to a broken hose; and three separate denials that he killed the Rogers family. The crux of Chandler's defense was that he met Michelle Rogers only briefly at the convenience store where he gave her directions to a Days Inn; he did not take the Rogers family for a cruise that night; FN10 and he did not kill them.FN11 We conclude that the State could legitimately attack Chandler's credibility in asserting those claims, Geralds, and could permissibly develop the connection between the Blair rape and the Rogers' murders to that end.

FN10. Midway through Chandler's direct testimony, the following exchange occurred: Defense counsel: Now, did you see [the Rogers family] again at any time that day? Chandler: I've never seen them again. Defense counsel: Never saw them again in your life? Chandler: No, sir. Defense counsel: Did you kill these people? Chandler: No, I did not. Defense counsel: Did you take them out on your boat? Chandler: No, they've never been on my boat.

FN11. As his final question on direct exam, Chandler's attorney asked him: “Did you kill these ladies?” Chandler responded that “I have never killed no one in my whole life. I have never—its's ludicrous. It's ridiculous.” For example, the following exchange occurred regarding Chandler's November 1989 visit with his daughter, Kristal Mays,FN12 in Cincinnati:

FN12. Mays had testified to these issues during the State's case-in-chief. Prosecutor: Tell me how it came out, Mr. Chandler. Chandler: I went to the motel, checked in, give her a call. They stopped up, started talking with Rick about building money up. I needed some cash. Said all he had was two ounces of cocaine he could front me. I said, that's fine. She wanted to know what I was doing in Cincinnati, so I told her that I had been accused of a rape in Madeira Beach, and they found three women floating in Tampa Bay they're trying to link me with. That was it. Prosecutor: Did you tell her you were innocent of both crimes? Chandler: Did I tell her that I was innocent? Prosecutor: Yeah. Chandler: Most certainly did. She never went to no bathroom. She never left the *197 room.FN13

FN13. This exchange also shows that Chandler did answer some questions about the Blair rape, while invoking the Fifth Amendment on others. The trial judge pointed this out to defense counsel when he renewed his request for a standing objection. (Emphasis added.) Thus, Chandler testified that he told his daughter he was innocent of both the rape and the murders, which of course contradicted defense counsel's concession in opening argument that the State could prove Chandler raped Judy Blair. Therefore, this was a legitimate subject of inquiry for the State in cross-examining Chandler as it attempted to cast doubt on his defense and undermine his credibility as a witness. § 90.612(2), Fla. Stat. (1993).

Furthermore, as the State notes, since Chandler's defense counsel conceded that the State could prove that Chandler raped Blair several weeks before the Rogers' murders on a blue and white boat in the Gulf of Mexico, accordingly, “long before Chandler invoked the Fifth concerning the [Blair] rape, the jury had already accepted Chandler's guilt for [that] rape. Therefore, any inference of guilt for the [Blair] rape from the invocation of the Fifth is undeniably harmless.” Appellee's Answer Brief at 73. Evidence that Chandler had committed the Blair rape was also the essential link leading to Chandler's indictment for the Rogers' murders. FN14. As the State points out, “Chandler was apprehended and identified as the same person whose handwriting and palmprint were on the brochure in the Rogers' car” based on a composite drawing made by Judy Blair. Appellee's Answer Brief at 45. Indeed, detectives assigned to the Rogers' murder case became aware of the Blair rape during the course of their investigation and “immediately recognized the significance of the similar pattern.” Id.

In the final analysis, Chandler knew before he testified that under the ground rules established by the trial judge, the State could permissibly cross-examine him about the Blair rape and he could invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. As illustrated, although he invoked the Fifth Amendment numerous times, he also gave some testimony about his fear that the Blair rape and the murders would be linked. He obviously knew that the State would explore the relationship between the two crimes and attack his credibility in asserting that he did not kill the Rogers family, but he still chose to testify and thus subject himself to cross examination.FN15 That was Chandler's choice alone and we agree with the State that first, the trial court did not err in letting him live with the resulting consequences and second, error, if any, was harmless since there is “no reasonable possibility that the error contributed to the conviction.” State v. DiGuilio, 491 So.2d 1129, 1135 (Fla.1986).

FN15. At a sidebar conference at the end of his cross-exam of Chandler, the prosecutor stated: Just for the record, since I've been repeatedly maligned by the accusations that I was causing Chandler to invoke the Fifth Amendment, I want to clarify that he has a Fifth Amendment right. I wanted answers to my questions. That is what I would prefer. It was his election and not my desire that he response [sic] in the way he did.

Prior Consistent Statement

Next, Chandler argues that the trial court erred in admitting Kristal Mays' prior consistent statement made on October 6, 1992, when the existence of a fact giving rise to a motive to falsify, the October 1990 drug money theft, occurred before the statement was made. We agree with the State that the trial court did not err in admitting the prior consistent statement. We also find any potential error harmless.

We have long held that prior consistent statements “are generally inadmissible to corroborate or bolster a witness' trial testimony.” Rodriguez v. State, 609 So.2d 493, 499 (Fla.1992); Jackson v. State, 498 So.2d 906, 909 (Fla.1986); Parker v. State, 476 So.2d 134, 137 (Fla.1985); Van Gallon v. State, 50 So.2d 882 (Fla.1951). Since such statements are usually hearsay, “they are inadmissible as substantive evidence unless they qualify under an exception to the rule excluding hearsay.” Rodriguez, 609 So.2d at 500 (citing Charles W. Ehrhardt, Florida Evidence, § 801.8 (1992 ed.)). However, prior consistent statements are considered non-hearsay if the following conditions are met: the person who made the prior consistent *198 statement testifies at trial and is subject to cross-examination concerning that statement; and the statement is offered to “rebut an express or implied charge ... of improper influence, motive, or recent fabrication.” Rodriguez, 609 So.2d at 500 (quoting section 90.801(2)(b), Florida Statutes (1989)).

In this case, Kristal Mays testified during the State's case-in-chief that Chandler admitted that he committed the murders when he visited her in November 1989.FN16 However, on cross-examination, defense counsel elicited alternative purported motives for Mays to testify falsely: the October 1990 drug money theft where her husband was severely beaten after Chandler fled, and her receipt of money for appearing on Hard Copy in 1994. On redirect, the State attempted to rehabilitate Mays by introducing her sworn statement made to the state attorney's office on October 6, 1992, before the Hard Copy appearance was negotiated. Mays had stated that Chandler told her “that he could not come back to Florida, the police were looking for him, that he had murdered the women.”

FN16. Kristal testified on direct examination: And then he said that he couldn't go back to Florida because the police were looking for him because he killed some women.... Prosecutor: He indicated he had killed women? Kristal: Yes.

Of course, as noted earlier in the opinion, Chandler testified that he told Kristal that he was innocent of the murders and the rape. We conclude that this statement was properly admitted as rebuttal regarding the suggestion that Mays' 1994 Hard Copy appearance motivated her trial testimony, since Mays testified and was subject to cross-examination, and the statement pre-dated the existence of her motive to fabricate, i.e., the Hard Copy appearance. See § 90.801(2)(b), Fla. Stat. (1993). The October 1992 statement was undisputedly made after the October 1990 drug money incident. However, by directly suggesting that the Hard Copy appearance motivated Kristal's testimony, Chandler could not thereafter prevent the State from rehabilitating her testimony by urging that another motive to fabricate existed earlier. That was a choice that the defendant made in urging more than one reason to fabricate at trial. Having made this choice, he must suffer its natural consequences.

The improper admission of prior consistent statements is also subject to harmless error analysis. Anderson v. State, 574 So.2d 87, 93 (Fla.1991). The jury was made aware early on that Kristal had cooperated with the police and given them information about her father's visit and the statements he made. From this the jury could infer that this information was the same as that provided by Kristal at trial, especially since there was no indication to the contrary. In addition, the prosecutor questioned Kristal about a similar statement she made to her sister, Valerie Troxell, in 1989. FN17 The State further argues, and we agree, that the jury knew that the October 1990 drug money incident occurred before Kristal Mays gave her statement to the state attorney's office in October 1992,FN18 and Chandler's defense counsel had an additional opportunity to recross-examine Mays regarding her statement as well as to assert both the drug money episode and the Hard Copy appearance as motivations for Kristal to lie or exaggerate her testimony. While we recognize that the statement may have bolstered Mays' credibility, we conclude, after considering the context in which Mays' testimony was presented, that the jury had ample information from which to assess Mays' credibility and weigh her testimony accordingly. Therefore, we also find that any error is harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. DiGuilio, 491 So.2d at 1135.

FN17. Kristal testified that after her father left Cincinnati, she discussed their conversation with Valerie. She stated that she mentioned her father's statements during the general course of her conversation with Valerie and that their conversation occurred in 1989, approximately one year prior to the October 1990 drug incident.

FN18. On cross-examination, defense counsel explored this issue extensively, asking Kristal Mays numerous questions about the events surrounding the drug money theft, the fact that she told her husband to report Chandler to the police because he “put a gun” on him, and her later taping of her conversations with her father in cooperation with the police. Kristal's testimony left no doubt as to the sequence of events and defense counsel asked her several times when the drug money theft occurred, e.g., “[t]his incident occurred in October of 1990, right?”, to which Kristal responded “yes.”

Waiver of Right to Present Mitigating Testimony

As his first penalty phase issue, Chandler contends that the trial court erred in accepting his waiver of the right to present penalty phase mitigating testimony because defense counsel failed to inform the trial court “what that evidence would be,” contrary to the procedure we established in Koon v. Dugger, 619 So.2d 246 (Fla.1993). For that reason, Chandler asks us to vacate his death sentences. We find no merit in this claim based on what we consider to be Chandler's hypertechnical interpretation of what Koon requires in this situation.

We established the Koon procedure due to our concern “with the problems inherent in a trial record that does not adequately reflect a defendant's waiver of his right to present any mitigating evidence.” 619 So.2d at 250. To achieve the goal of avoiding such problems, we instituted the following procedure for use when defendants wish to waive presentation of mitigating evidence during the penalty phase:

When a defendant, against his counsel's advice, refuses to permit the presentation of mitigating evidence in the penalty phase, counsel must inform the court on the record of the defendant's decision. Counsel must indicate whether, based on his investigation, he reasonably believes there to be mitigating evidence that could be presented and what that evidence would be. The court should then require the defendant to confirm on the record that his counsel has discussed these matters with him, and despite counsel's recommendation, he wishes to waive presentation of penalty phase evidence. Id. Obviously, our primary reason for requiring this procedure was to ensure that a defendant understood the importance of presenting mitigating testimony, discussed these issues with counsel, and confirmed in open court that he or she wished to waive presentation of mitigating evidence. Only then could the trial court, and this Court, be assured that the defendant knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waived this substantial and important right to show the jury why the death penalty should not be imposed in his or her particular case.

The record reflects that after defense counsel informed the court of Chandler's decision and began to go over the list of penalty phase witnesses and what they would say, the trial judge stated: However, I think there is a case—and I don't have it at my fingertips—but what it says is, if the Defendant has told the defense counsel not to call relevant mitigation, that defense counsel is, Number One, obligated to tell the Court that; and, Number Two, the Court then is obligated to tell you what you would have—who you would have called and what they would have said, basically. And then Mr. Chandler has got to, in essence, acknowledge that he understands it could have been helpful and, in essence, announce that he wish that not be presented.

Clearly, the trial judge was describing Koon and the compulsory procedure in this situation.

Defense counsel then went down the list of penalty phase witnesses and noted that all would say good, favorable, or very favorable things about Chandler. He also responded that he had discussed those favorable things with Chandler. At that point, the trial judge commented as follows: Court: Okay. Mr. Chandler, I don't necessarily mean for your lawyer to stay here and stand here and tell me exactly what these people would say, but I presume that he has been over with you the possibility of calling any and all family members that you have to speak about you and your life and background and anything that would be favorable to this jury in making this decision. Has he gone over that with you? Chandler: Yes, he has, and I have made a decision, your Honor, to call no one. Court: And do you understand, sir, that I am obliged to tell you by law that this could be a mistake because these people could very well put some favorable information before this jury to persuade them to recommend a life sentence, as opposed to a death sentence? Do you understand that? Chandler: Yes, I do. Court: And you've had plenty of time to talk this over with your lawyer? Chandler: Yes. Court: And it is your decision that you have instructed your lawyer not to call these people. Is that correct? Chandler: That's correct. Court: Is there anything else we need to put on the record?

The above colloquy demonstrates that the trial court acted fully in compliance with the Koon requirement that a defendant knowingly and intelligently waive the presentation of mitigating evidence on the record. Moreover, we find that defense counsel complied with his duties under Koon by investigating Chandler's background, having witnesses ready and available to testify, and adequately outlining the favorable character evidence that Chandler's witnesses would have presented.FN19 Accordingly, we find no error in the trial court's acceptance of Chandler's waiver.

FN19. Thus we reject Chandler's contention that since defense counsel did not go into greater detail about “what that favorable evidence would be,” we should vacate his sentences and thereby ignore the fact that the core requirement of Koon—knowing, intelligent, and voluntary waiver in open court—was clearly met in this case.

Childhood Trauma as Nonstatutory Mitigation

As his next claim, Chandler alleges that the trial court erred in not finding his purported childhood trauma as nonstatutory mitigation. We find no merit in this claim.

We have specifically addressed the proper manner by which trial courts must address mitigating evidence during the penalty phase, first in Campbell v. State, 571 So.2d 415 (Fla.1990), and most recently in Ferrell v. State, 653 So.2d 367 (Fla.1995). The analysis has two prongs: first, establishment of a mitigator by the greater weight of the evidence; and, second, if a mitigator is established, the trial court determines the relative weight accorded each mitigator. Chandler's claim of error addresses the first prong. Id. at 371.

The approved procedure is as follows: The sentencing judge must expressly evaluate in his or her sentencing order each statutory and non-statutory mitigating circumstance proposed by the defendant. This evaluation must determine if the statutory mitigating circumstance is supported by the evidence and if the non-statutory mitigating circumstance is truly of a mitigating nature. A mitigator is supported by evidence if it is mitigating in nature and reasonably established by the greater weight of the evidence. Id. Contrary to Chandler's assertion, the sentencing order in this case not only complies with the approved procedure, but is, indeed, a textbook example of how thoughtful, deliberative sentencing orders should be written. Illustrative of the trial court's thorough analysis of all proffered mitigators is its treatment of this issue, Chandler's alleged childhood trauma:

7. The Defendant was only ten years old when his father committed suicide. It is a mitigating factor if a Defendant has had a deprived childhood, or has suffered abuse as a child, or other matters such as this. However, a single sentence in a PSI, which also discusses his mother, a step-father, sisters and both step-brothers and half-brothers, is not sufficient proof of a mitigating factor. The Defendant lived with his mother after his father died. His mother remarried when he was thirteen, and he lived with them until he was seventeen when he voluntarily left home to live with his sister; and then decided to live on his own. (This information is contained in the 1977 PSI). If child abuse or deprived childhood existed in Defendant's case, he voluntarily elected not to present any evidence of it. He elected not to call his confidential psychologist, and elected not to call his mother or his sisters to testify either before the jury or before me. Surely they could have *201 told us of the Defendant's childhood and the effect, if any, of his father's suicide on the Defendant. There is no proof, therefore, in the record, of the mitigating factor of child abuse, or a deprived childhood. (Emphasis added.) The trial court's analysis conforms with the requirements we established in Campbell and Ferrell.

Beyond the trial court's procedural compliance with the guidelines for evaluating mitigating circumstances, we have recognized that it is within the trial court's discretion to determine whether such mitigation has been established. Foster v. State, 679 So.2d 747, 755 (Fla.1996), cert. denied, 520 U.S. 1122, 117 S.Ct. 1259, 137 L.Ed.2d 338 (1997); Preston v. State, 607 So.2d 404 (Fla.1992); Sireci v. State, 587 So.2d 450 (Fla.1991); Stano v. State, 460 So.2d 890 (Fla.1984). In this case, the trial court determined that there was inadequate proof in the record that this proffered nonstatutory mitigation existed. This is the process required by Campbell and Ferrell.

HAC Standard Jury Instruction

As his last penalty phase issue, Chandler argues that the standard jury instruction on the “heinous, atrocious, or cruel” (HAC) aggravating circumstance is unconstitutionally vague.

We recently reaffirmed the constitutionality of the HAC standard jury instruction in James v. State, 695 So.2d 1229, 1235 (Fla.), petition for cert. filed, No. 97–6104 (U.S. Sept. 18, 1997). In James, we rejected the appellant's vagueness and overbreadth challenges since the HAC instruction given at trial was the same instruction approved in Hall v. State, 614 So.2d 473 (Fla.1993), wherein this Court found that neither the instruction nor the aggravator itself was unconstitutionally vague. James, 695 So.2d at 1235; Hartley v. State, 686 So.2d 1316 (Fla.1996), cert. denied, 522 U.S. 825, 118 S.Ct. 86, 139 L.Ed.2d 43 (1997). Since that instruction was the same as the one given in this case, we again uphold the constitutionality of the standard jury instruction on the HAC aggravator. James; Hartley.


Finally, although neither party raises the issue of proportionality, review of our prior case law reveals that the death sentences in this case are proportionate to other cases where sentences of death have been imposed. See Rolling v. State, 695 So.2d 278 (Fla.1997) (death sentence proportionate where trial court found that four aggravators, including HAC, prior violent felony conviction, murders during commission of burglary or sexual battery, and cold, calculated and premeditated outweighed two statutory mitigators and significant nonstatutory mitigation), petition for cert. filed, No. 97–5975 (U.S. Sept. 10, 1997); Henyard v. State, 689 So.2d 239 (Fla.1996) (finding four aggravators, including HAC, prior violent felony conviction, and murder during commission of kidnapping and sexual battery outweighed two statutory mitigators and minor nonstatutory mitigation), cert. denied, 522 U.S. 846, 118 S.Ct. 130, 139 L.Ed.2d 80 (1997); Marshall v. State, 604 So.2d 799 (Fla.1992) (affirming death sentence where four strong aggravators, including HAC, prior violent felony convictions, and murder during commission of burglary outweighed minor mitigation).


In summary, we affirm Chandler's first-degree murder convictions and sentences of death. It is so ordered. KOGAN, C.J., and OVERTON, SHAW, GRIMES, HARDING, WELLS and ANSTEAD, JJ., concur.


Chandler v. State, 848 So.2d 1031 (Fla. 2003). (PCR)

Following the affirmance of his convictions for three counts of first-degree murder and death sentences, 702 So.2d 186, defendant sought postconviction relief. The Circuit Court, Pinellas County, Susan Schaeffer, J., denied relief. Defendant appealed. The Supreme Court held that: (1) trial counsel was not ineffective in failing to bring second motion for change of venue; (2) trial counsel was not ineffective in dealing with Williams rule evidence of defendant's alleged prior sexual battery offense; and (3) trial counsel was not ineffective in failing to object to prosecutor's guilt phase closing argument. Affirmed.


Chandler v. McDonough, 471 F.3d 1360 (11th Cir. 2006). (Habeas)

Background: Following affirmance of his murder convictions and his sentence of death, 702 So.2d 186, state inmate filed petition for writ of habeas corpus. The United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, No. 03-01347-CV-JSM-TGW, James S. Moody, Jr., J., 454 F.Supp.2d 1137, denied the petition and inmate appealed.

Holdings: The Court of Appeals held that: (1) state court's finding that habeas petitioner was not prejudiced by counsel's failure to seek change of venue was reasonable determination of fact, and (2) district court was not required to hold an evidentiary hearing on habeas petitioner's claim that defense counsel was ineffective. Affirmed.


Oba Chandler was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death in the State of Florida on November 4, 1994. After his conviction and sentence were affirmed on direct appeal, Chandler v. State, 702 So.2d 186 (Fla.1997), state collateral relief was also denied and that denial was affirmed, Chandler v. State, 848 So.2d 1031 (Fla.2003). Chandler then filed a 28 U.S.C. § 2254 petition in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida. That petition was denied, Chandler v. Crosby, 454 F.Supp.2d 1137 (M.D.Fla.2006), and Chandler has appealed that denial.

The only issue on which Chandler was granted a certificate of appealability involves his claim that his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance by failing to move a second time for a change of venue. The facts and procedural history relating to this claim are set out in the district court's opinion. Id. at 1151-55. To the extent Chandler contends that, given the evidence that was before the state courts, their decision regarding this claim “was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States,” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1), or that it “was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding,” § 2254(d)(2), *1362 we reject that contention for the reasons set out in the district court's thorough treatment of the subject. Chandler, 454 F.Supp.2d at 1156-67. We add to that treatment only these additional thoughts. First, the fact that any non-ineffective assistance claim relating to change of venue and pretrial publicity may be procedurally barred does not, in turn, bar consideration of the claim that counsel was ineffective for failing to pursue that claim at trial and on appeal. Those are two different claims. We have the ineffective assistance claim before us now, and it is not procedurally barred.

Second, since the district court denied the petition in this case, we have issued our en banc decision in United States v. Campa, 459 F.3d 1121 (11th Cir.2006) (en banc). The Campa decision underscores the fact that the burden a defendant bears when attempting to establish presumed prejudice is “an extremely heavy one,” and reiterates that “[t]he presumed prejudice principle is rarely applicable and is reserved for an extreme situation.” Id. at 1143 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). Those principles make it difficult for a petitioner claiming his counsel was ineffective for failing to move for a change of venue to establish the requisite prejudice, which necessitates a showing that, at a minimum, “there is a reasonable probability that the trial court would have, or at least should have, granted a motion for change of venue if [petitioner's] counsel had presented such a motion to the court,” Meeks v. Moore, 216 F.3d 951, 961 (11th Cir.2000). As the district court concluded, “Chandler has not even come close to the sort of evidentiary showing necessary to establish that his defense was prejudiced by [trial counsel's] failure to file a second change of venue motion.” Chandler, 454 F.Supp.2d at 1166.

We turn now to Chandler's contention that the district court erred by not granting him an evidentiary hearing at which he could present evidence on this claim. He was given an evidentiary hearing on the claim in state court to the extent that trial counsel and petitioner himself testified about this claim and their pretrial reasoning and strategy concerning it. See id. at 1163 (recounting some of their testimony); Chandler, 848 So.2d at 1037. Chandler also proffered in the state collateral proceeding a 195-page report in two parts by his expert on the issue, media consultant Paul Wilson. That report not only contained Wilson's opinions but also detailed descriptions of the media coverage, including excerpts from a large number of the stories about the case that were printed or broadcast. Chandler, 454 F.Supp.2d at 1157-62.

The state courts accepted as true the factual content of the Wilson report and its attachments, insofar as they described the media coverage of the case. See Chandler, 848 So.2d at 1038 n.8 (noting that supplemental record contains the Wilson report “regarding the extent and nature of pretrial publicity” and “we must accept the factual allegations made by the defendant to the extent that they are not refuted by the record”); State v. Chandler, No. CRC92-17438CFANO (Fla. Cir. Ct. June 28, 2001) (state trial court order denying collateral relief) (“[T]he defendant was permitted to supplement the record with the publicity he believed existed in Orange County.”). So did the district court, which discussed the report's contents in considerable detail. Chandler, 454 F.Supp.2d at 1157-62.

Because Chandler cannot show that “the facts underlying his claim would be sufficient to establish by clear and convincing evidence that but for constitutional error, no reasonable factfinder would have found *1363 the applicant guilty of the underlying offense,” he cannot fit within the exceptions to § 2254(e)(2). As a result, that provision bars his contention that the district court should have conducted an evidentiary hearing, if we find that he “failed to develop the factual basis of a claim in State court proceedings.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(2); see Holland v. Jackson, 542 U.S. 649, 652-53, 124 S.Ct. 2736, 2738, 159 L.Ed.2d 683 (2004) (“Under the habeas statute, [the petitioner's] statement could have been the subject of an evidentiary hearing by the District Court, but only if respondent was not at fault in failing to develop that evidence in state court, or (if he was at fault) if the conditions prescribed by § 2254(e)(2) were met.”); Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 420, 120 S.Ct. 1479, 146 L.Ed.2d 435 (2000). To the extent that there is any factual basis for his claim other than that covered in the Wilson report, Chandler did fail to exercise due diligence in developing it. In the state courts, Chandler never pointed to any other evidence that he would attempt to introduce if given the chance. He never specified what additional evidence he might have.

There is another reason why the district court did not err in failing to conduct an evidentiary hearing on this claim. Except for the Wilson report, the factual aspects of which the state courts and the district court took as true for purposes of this claim, Chandler made no proffer to the district court of any evidence that he would seek to introduce at a hearing. The failure to proffer any additional evidence defeats Wilson's argument that he was entitled to an additional evidentiary hearing in federal court. See Drew v. Dept. of Corrections, 297 F.3d 1278, 1293 (11th Cir.2002) (referring to “our clear precedent establishing that such allegations are not enough to warrant an evidentiary hearing in the absence of any specific factual proffer or evidentiary support”); Hill v. Moore, 175 F.3d 915, 922 (11th Cir.1999) ( “To be entitled to an evidentiary hearing on this matter [an ineffective assistance of counsel claim], petitioner must proffer evidence that, if true, would entitle him to relief.”); see also Tejada v. Dugger, 941 F.2d 1551, 1559 (11th Cir.1991) (“A petitioner is not entitled to an evidentiary hearing, however, when his claims are merely conclusory allegations unsupported by specifics.” (internal marks and citation omitted)).

For these reasons, we affirm the district court's denial of Chandler's petition for a writ of habeas corpus. AFFIRMED.



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