A circuit judge sentenced a man to death today for the fatal stabbings of a mother and daughter in Haines City in 2015.
Circuit Judge Jalal Harb upheld the unanimous death penalty recommendation for Michael Gordon by a jury from 2019, writing in a sentencing order that Gordon’s actions were “consistent with the conclusion that he acted with indifferent reckless to the lives of the victims.”
“Consequently, this Court finds that the Defendant’s involvement was substantial and far from a codefendant who acted as a getaway driver to the robbery,” Harb wrote.
Harb continued that evidence presented showed that Gordon was the “most culpable actor in the events of January 15, 2015.” Gordon’s vehicle was used during the robbery, Gordon was the first to enter a pawn shop that was robbed, and it was Gordon alone who entered the victim’s home and killed her and her daughter.
During Gordon’s trial, Assistant State Attorneys Paul Wallace and Kristie Ducharme explained how Gordon and three co-defendants robbed an Auburndale pawn shop at gunpoint on Jan. 15, then led police on a high speed chase to the Chanler Ridge subdivision. Gordon forced his way into the home of Patricia Moran, 72, and her daughter, Deborah Royal, 51. He stabbed the women more than 50 times, then stole Moran’s car and drove through a garage door in an attempt to escape.
In January, a co-defendant, Devonere McCune, was sentenced to life in prison after jurors convicted him of second-degree murder, armed robbery and three counts of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer. In 2018, a second co-defendant, Terrell Williams, was sentenced to life in prison following his conviction of first-degree murder. The third co-defendant, Jovan Lamb, has also been charged with two counts of first-degree murder. His trial is scheduled for 2021.
During the death penalty phase of Gordon’s trial, Wallace argued that Gordon’s violent past, including a prison stabbing and a shooting in Lakeland should be given great weight.
Harb agreed in his order, stating that Gordon’s past along with the first degree murder convictions of Moran and Royal “amounts to a substantial aggravation.”
State Attorney Brian Haas thanks Assistant State Attorneys Wallace and Ducharme and the Polk County Sheriff’s Office for their work on the case.