Attorneys for a man who pleaded guilty to killing a Nassau County deputy in 2021 want to have scans of his brain done by the end of October.
Patrick McDowell, who admitted to shooting Nassau County Deputy Joshua Moyers, was in court with his lawyer via Zoom Tuesday from the jail for a pre-trial hearing.
McDowell’s sentencing trial has been delayed until at least April 2024 while the local court waits for the Florida Supreme Court to sort out questions about Florida’s new death penalty law.
In the meantime, his attorney wants to have brain scans done for McDowell, who has a history of Post-Traumatic Stress as a result of his military service. His defense plan to raise questions about McDowell’s psychological state during the sentencing trial.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty, and as it stands, Florida’s newly updated death penalty law requires only an 8-4 jury vote. When McDowell was initially charged and when he pleaded guilty, a jury had to be unanimous in sentencing a person to death.
His attorneys have filed a motion for the previous law requiring a 12-0 recommendation to apply in McDowell’s case.
McDowell’s defense lawyer told Judge James Daniel that the Florida Supreme Court hasn’t even set a date for oral arguments to discuss whether the new law will apply retroactively. Daniel said that it’s unlikely the high court will provide guidance on the issue before the end of the year.
A challenge to the new law has been filed with the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and denied by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, but the Florida Supreme Court has not yet made a decision.
McDowell shot Moyers twice during an early morning traffic stop on U.S. 301 on Sept. 23, 2021. Moyers, 29, died from his injuries on Sept. 26, 2021.
McDowell was arrested following a five-day manhunt and later pleaded guilty to the shooting and also to other charges stemming from that search, including injuring a police dog and eight charges of aggravated assault against law enforcement officers.
The next pre-trial hearing for the case is Oct. 24.