September 21, 2012 http://www.tallahassee.com
Florida’s Supreme Court on Thursday sent convicted murderer Miguel Oyola back to circuit court for resentencing.
A majority of justices upheld his conviction for the 2007 murder of Michael Lee Gerrard, but said the lower court’s handling of the sentencing phase of Oyola’s case was in error.
In 2010, Oyola was found guilty of first-degree murder in the murder of his employer, Gerrard.
He was sentenced to death by a 9-3 jury vote and the case was appealed to the Florida Supreme Court.
Justices R. Fred Lewis, Peggy A. Quince, Jorge Labarga and James E.C. Perry concurred in the majority opinion while Justice Barbara J. Pariente concurred in the result.
According to the majority, the lower court did not properly account for mental health factors when Oyola was sentenced in October 2010.
A dissenting opinion by Chief Justice Ricky Polston, and joined by Justice Charles T. Canady, states that the errors of the trial court were harmless.
The pair supported the lower court’s opinion that the aggravating circumstances far outweigh the mitigating factors.
Oyola’s defense argued that Oyola was raised in an abusive home as a child, suffered from mental illness, and had a family history of mental illness, according to court documents.
According to the majority opinion, a trial court must “expressly evaluate” mitigating circumstances and nonstatutory mitigators, like the mental health factors raised by the defense, when handing down sentences.
Court records say Oyola went on a spending spree at Tallahassee area Wal-Mart stores on December 3, 2007, with a debit card assigned to Gerrard’s outdoor landscaping business. Gerrard was alerted of the charges by his bank and confronted Oyola.
Oyola attacked him and struck him multiple times in the head with a shovel, along with stabbing him 10 times.
Gerrard’s body was found on Tram Road in Jefferson County on December 4, 2007.