Justices reject appeal as execution looms

By The News Service of Florida

Florida Department of Corrections photo of Robert Joseph Long

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - With the scheduled execution of serial killer Bobby Joe Long less than a week away, the Florida Supreme Court on Friday rejected a challenge to his death sentence.

Justices unanimously turned down a series of arguments filed by Long’s attorney, including that Long should be resentenced because scientific advances have increased knowledge about brain injuries and brain damage.

Those issues related to arguments that Long has a brain injury and a type of epilepsy.

“None of the scientific advances at issue establishes that traumatic brain injury or temporal lobe epilepsy is the sole cause of offenses such as those that Long committed against the victim in this case; nor do they negate the sentencing court’s finding that the evidence is inconsistent with Long’s claim that he could not control his behavior,” the Supreme Court opinion said. “In light of the evidence that would be available in any resentencing proceeding, including evidence establishing some of the weightiest aggravators in Florida’s capital sentencing scheme, the alleged newly discovered evidence is not of such a nature that it would probably yield a less severe sentence in a new penalty phase.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis in April signed a death warrant for Long and scheduled the execution for next Thursday.

Long was sentenced to death in the May 1984 murder of Michelle Simms after picking her up on Kennedy Boulevard in Tampa.

In 1985. Long, now 65, also pleaded guilty to seven additional first-degree murder charges and numerous charges for sexual batteries and kidnappings in the Tampa Bay region. 

News Service of Florida