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Connie Ray ISRAEL





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Rape - Robbery
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: December 27, 1991
Date of birth: April 9, 1957
Victim profile: Esther Hagans, 77
Method of murder: Heart attack, brought on by the beating and sexual assault
Location: Putnam County, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on May 28, 1999

Florida Supreme Court


opinion SC95783

opinion SC05-1739


DC#   065135

Seventh Judicial Circuit, Putnam County Case # 93-1684

Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Kim C. Hammond
Attorney, Trial: Pro Se, Clyde Wolfe & Wayne Henderson – Private (Standby Counsel
Attorney, Direct Appeal: George D.E. Burden – Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, Collateral Appeals:  Robert Strain & Carol Rodriguez – CCRC-M 

Date of Offense:  12/27/91

Date of Sentence:  05/28/99

Circumstances of Offense:

On 12/27/91, when Esther Hagans did not arrive for work, a fellow employee went to Hagan’s house and found her car in the carport.  When the employee called Hagan’s house and found no answer, the police were called. 

Police found Hagan’s front door ajar and discovered her body in the bedroom.  She was lying naked on the bed with her legs spread apart and her hands tied behind her back.  Hagan’s body had trauma to the left side of the head, cuts to the left eyebrow and temple, as well as abrasions and tears on the right side of the head, which caused major hemorrhage to the brain. 

Hagans’ body also had external vaginal injuries consistent with sexual assault.  The cause of death was a heart attack, brought on by the beating and sexual assault.  Hagans was 77 years old at the time of the murder. 

At the crime scene, police also found footprints on the front porch steps and in a drainage ditch along the side of the house.  A screwdriver was found outside of a window, leading police to conclude that the point of entry into the house was a bedroom window. 

Sperm and semen stains were found on a pillowcase, slip, and a bedspread found in the bedroom.   Semen from vaginal swabs taken from Hagan’s body was consistent with the semen found in the bedroom.  Human blood was also found in a towel at the crime scene. 

Connie Israel registered at the Palatka Holiday Inn on 12/28/91 and paid in cash for two nights.  Maryann Pittman, an acquaintance of Israel, testified that she smoked crack cocaine with Israel at the hotel room. 

Pittman took a shower in the hotel room and noticed a pair of pants and a shirt in the bathtub, which was filled with red water.  Pittman also noticed a black purse under the bed in the room and money in his wallet.   Israel told her that the money was winnings from the Florida Lottery. 

Melvin Shorter, an acquaintance of Israel who sold him the cocaine, testified that he saw Israel and Pittman at the hotel and that Israel paid cash for the cocaine, telling him that he had “hit the lottery.”

Israel and three other individuals were identified as suspects in the murder of Hagans.  All four individuals were interviewed and had blood samples taken.  DNA comparisons revealed that Israel was the source of the sperm and semen stains found at the crime scene.   

Arthur McComb, a legal clerk who was a cellmate of Israel, testified that Israel asked for help with his case.  According to McComb, Israel stated that he was charged with First-Degree Murder and that he tried to knock the victim’s head off because she tried to “gum him.”  Israel also indicated that he had sexually assaulted the victim and had gone to the victim’s house to steal church money.  Israel took $7,000 to $10,000 during the burglary.

Trial Summary:

12/16/93          Indicted as follows:

Count I: Burglary
Count II: Kidnapping
Count III: Sexual Battery
Count IV: First-Degree Murder   

11/20/98          Jury was unable to reach a verdict and a mistrial was declared

03/01/99          Jury returned guilty verdicts on all counts of the indictment

03/02/99          Jury recommended death by a vote of 11-1

05/28/99          Sentenced as follows:

Count I: Burglary – Life Imprisonment
Count II: Kidnapping – Life Imprisonment
Count III: Sexual Battery – Life Imprisonment
Count IV: First-Degree Murder – Death

Case Information:

Israel filed a Direct Appeal with the Florida Supreme Court on 06/28/99, citing the following errors:  conducting portions of jury selection without defendant’s presence; denying a motion for continuance; failing to grant a motion for mistrial in guilt and penalty phases for prejudicial statements; requiring physical restraints in the courtroom; ignoring nonstatutory mitigating evidence; relying on a split jury vote for recommendation of a death sentence; and disproportionality of the death sentence. 

On 12/19/02, the FSC affirmed the convictions and sentences. 

Israel filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus with the Florida Supreme Court on 01/04/02 that was withdrawn on 03/14/02. 

Israel filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court on 03/19/03 that was denied on 06/16/03.

Israel filed a 3.851 Motion with the Circuit Court on 12/01/03 and amended the Motion on 02/11/04.   The Circuit Court denied the motion on 08/19/05.

Israel filed a 3.851 Motion Appeal with the Florida Supreme Court on 09/16/05 that is pending. 

Israel filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus with the Florida Supreme Court on 04/06/06 that is pending.



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