The Commission on Capital Cases updates this information regularly. This information, however, is subject to change and may not reflect the latest status of an inmate’s case and should not be relied on for statistical or legal purposes.
BYRD, Milford (W/M)
Thirteenth Judicial Circuit, Hillsborough County, Case #81-10517
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable F. Dennis Alarvez
Trial Attorneys: Frank T. Johnson & Fred Buckine – Private
Attorneys, Direct Appeal: W.C McLain & Karla J. Staker – Assistant Public Defenders
Attorneys, Collateral Appeals: Martin McClain & Christine Spuedas – CCRC-S
Date of Offense: 10/12/81
Date of Sentence: 08/13/82
Circumstances of Offense:
Milford Byrd was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of his wife, Debra Byrd, on 10/12/81.
Debra Byrd was found strangled to death at the Tampa motel that the she and her husband managed on the morning of 10/13/81. Medical examiners discovered that Debra had suffered from many non-fatal wounds including scalp lacerations, bruises and four gunshot wounds.
According to the statements he made to police, Byrd claimed he had gone to the gym and to a couple of bars the night of the murder, and upon returning home at 6:45 a.m., he found his wife dead. Soon after the murder, Byrd was inquiring about his wife’s
$100,000 life insurance policy and how long it would take to settle the claim.
On 10/27/81, Ronald Sullivan, who resided at Byrd’s motel, was arrested for a parole violation and subsequently charged with Debra’s murder. Stemming from Sullivan’s
statements to police, Byrd was arrested in connection with Debra’s murder on 10/28/81. Police officers arrested Byrd on probable cause, without a warrant.
At the police station, Byrd claimed that he would make a statement about the murder if he could speak to his girlfriend privately. Detectives relented, and after speaking with his girlfriend, Byrd relayed the following information about Debra’s murder: Byrd had fallen in love with his current girlfriend, and Debra refused to grant him a divorce. Byrd confessed that he approached Sullivan and his roommate, James Endress, about killing his wife. Byrd offered them $5,000 each to arrange the murder and make it look like a robbery. Byrd claimed that he was not present when the murder was committed.
Sullivan turned State’s evidence in exchange for a negotiated plea and testified against
Byrd at his trial. Sullivan claimed that Byrd was, in fact, present at the time of the
murder and that he, Endress and Byrd all took turns choking Debra.
Ronald Sullivan was sentenced to 10 years for Second-Degree Murder on 06/24/83 for
his role in the murder of Debra Byrd.
James Endress was sentenced to life in prison for First-Degree Murder on 10/20/83.
10/28/81 Defendant arrested.
11/12/81 Defendant indicted on the following:
Count I: First Degree Murder
11/24/81 The defendant entered a written plea of “not guilty.”
07/23/82 The jury found the defendant guilty of First-Degree Murder. 07/26/82 Upon advisory sentencing, the jury, by a 12 to 0 majority, voted for the
08/13/82 The defendant was sentenced to the following:
Count I: First Degree Murder - Death
Florida Supreme Court - Direct Appeal
481 So. 2d 468
08/27/82 Appeal filed.
11/14/85 FSC affirmed the conviction and sentence of death. 02/06/86 Rehearing denied.
United States Supreme Court - Petition for Writ of Certiorari
476 U.S. 1153
04/04/86 Petition filed.
05/27/86 Petition denied.
State Circuit Court - 3.850 Motion
05/27/88 Motion filed.
07/11/89 Motion denied.
Florida Supreme Court - 3.850 Appeal
597 So. 2d 252
09/08/89 Appeal filed.
02/20/92 FSC affirmed the denial of Byrd’s 3.850 Motion. 05/26/92 Rehearing denied. 05/26/92 Mandate issued.
United States District Court, Middle District - Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus USDC #92-1042-Civ-T-23B
07/27/92 Petition filed. 03/31/94 Petition denied.
Florida Supreme Court - Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus FSC #83,163
655 So. 2d 67
02/09/94 Petition filed. 01/26/95 Petition denied. 06/01/95 Rehearing denied.
United States Supreme Court - Petition for Writ of Certiorari USSC #95-7071
516 U.S. 1175
12/12/95 Petition filed. 03/18/96 Petition denied.
United States District Court, Middle District - Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus USDC #96-771-Civ
04/18/96 Petition filed. 09/23/96 Petition was administratively closed.
09/28/01 Case reopened.
02/12/02 Amended petition filed. 07/22/02 Case administratively closed pending the final decision in the
State Circuit Court - 3.850 Motion
03/25/02 Motion filed.
02/10/04 Evidentiary Hearing held.
11/05/04 Evidentiary Hearing held.
08/01/05 CC denied motion.
Florida Supreme Court – Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus
03/20/06 Petition filed.
Factors Contributing to the Delay in the Imposition of the Sentence:
Byrd’s Direct Appeal took over three years to complete.
Byrd filed his Direct Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court on 08/27/82. Byrd claimed in his appeal that his confession should have been suppressed because it was not given voluntarily. After examination, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that Byrd’s arrest and
confession were lawful. Byrd also argued the application of non-statutory aggravating and mitigating factors in his case. Additionally, he claimed that the murder was not committed for pecuniary gain or “heinous, atrocious and cruel.” The Florida Supreme
Court summarily denied all claims and affirmed the conviction and sentence on 11/14/85.
On 04/04/86, Byrd filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court, which was denied on 05/27/86.
Next, Byrd filed a Motion to Vacate Judgment and Sentence (3.850) in the State Circuit Court on 05/27/88. That motion was denied on 07/11/89. Byrd filed an appeal of that decision in the Florida Supreme Court on 09/08/89. The court affirmed the denial of Byrd’s 3.850 on 02/20/92.
Byrd filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in the United States District Court, Middle District, on 07/27/92. That petition was denied on 03/31/94.
Byrd then filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in the Florida Supreme Court on 02/09/94. The Florida Supreme Court denied the petition on 01/26/95.
On 12/12/95, Byrd filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court, which was denied on 03/18/96.
Byrd again filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in the United States District Court, Middle District, on 04/18/96. The petition was administratively closed on 09/23/99. Byrd’s case was reopened and an amended petition was filed on 02/12/02. The case was administratively closed on 7/22/02 pending the final decision in the Bottoson/King cases.
On 03/25/02, Byrd filed a 3.850 Motion in the State Circuit Court that was denied on 08/01/05.
Byrd filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in the Florida Supreme Court on 03/20/06 that is pending.
Institutional Adjustment: MILFORD BYRD DC #085488
DATE DAYS VIOLATION LOCATION -------- ---- ---------------------------- ------------------- 01/13/87 45 ASSAULTS OR ATTEMPT FSP
06/26/94 0 POSS OF NARCOTICS UNION C. I. 05/23/05 0 DISRESP.TO OFFICIALS UNION C.I.
12/05/01 – ew
12/19/01 – approved – ws
10/09/06 – updated – ew