Felony Murder Rule: William Van Poyck – Florida

William Van Poyck is on death row for a murder he did not commit.

High court reverses ruling on Palm Beach County Death Row case lawyers photo

William Van Poyck, aka, “Billy” has been on death row since 1988 for a killing he did not commit. On the heels of new legislation in Florida to speed up executions,Governor Scott  has signed his death warrant. Billy was convicted under Florida’s felony-murder rule, which states that if a person commits a felony and someone dies during the course of that felony, he is guilty of felony murder.

How does this happen? Billy was involved in an attempt to free an inmate from a prison van. During this botched attempt, a correctional officer was killed. Billy’s co-defendant, Frank Valdes, was subsequently identified as the actual, sole triggerman. Billy did not even see it happen. Because of the felony-murder rule, both Billy and Frank received death sentences. The actual killer, Frank Valdes, died in July of 1999 as the result of a beating by guards at Florida State Prison.

Frank Valdes was indeed MURDERED by 8 prison guards at Florida State Prison in 1999. Those guards stomped Frank to death in retaliation for the killing of  correctional officer, Fred Griffis. The following are excerpts from articles I will link to. What is happening in this case is absolutely insane. The Judge, Charles Burton has appointed lawyers that have stated they have no expertise to represent Van Poyck as the clock ticks toward his scheduled June 12 execution.

Despite pleas today from Van Poyck’s attorney that he is incapable of representing the condemned murderer through complex, high-stakes last-minute appeals, Circuit Judge Charles Burton showed no interest in derailing the execution.

“This is not an unanticipated event,” Burton said of Gerald Bettman’s claims that he represented Van Poyck as a favor and never imagined he would be forced to handle his appeals under the strict deadlines that are set after a death warrant is signed.

“Before you execute someone you have to appoint a lawyer who is competent,” Bettman replied.

But, Burton said, the matter is out of his hands. “Any beef you have is with the Florida Supreme Court, not me,” he said.

The high court on Wednesday rejected Bettman’s so-called “notice of non-representation” and ordered him to handle Van Poyck’s case.

Other attorneys who specialize in death penalty cases called Bettman’s predicament unprecedented. “It’s shocking to me that they’re going to force an attorney who is unqualified to handle the appeals,” said Martin McClain, one of the state’s top death penalty defense attorneys.

“Everyone’s willing to clear the decks and put in the time necessary,” he said. “But (four) days — that’s just not enough time.”

“Frankly, this is the kind of case that gives the death penalty a bad name.”

I am asking you all to please sign Williams petition which can be found HERE. 

No one who is facing the death penalty should have to go through this. This is much worse than a Kangaroo Court, this is bizarre. But the real issue here is RETALIATION and Vengence.  I have known of this case for years, as I am very good friends with Frank Valdes’ widow. I am absolutely convinced William is and has been railroaded… because a prison guard was killed. The real issue here is that William is the fall guy. Now the State of Florida wants to kill him….after 25 years on death row. This is not justice. Please sign the petition…and share William’s story.

Articles on the bizarre court happenings in Poyck’s case:

‘They’re going to kill him,’ attorney for condemned killer says as judge refuses to delay execution

High court reverses ruling on Palm Beach County Death Row case lawyers

Lawyers ordered to defend Van Poyck in death-sentence appeal say they lack time, resources

Williams Blog- maintained by his sister:

Death Row Diary

Gov. Rick Scott has signed a Death Warrant for William Van Poyck and has scheduled his execution for Wednesday, June 12th at 6pm ET. Billy Van Poyck is to be killed for the 1987 homicide of corrections officer Fred Griffis during a failed escape attempt.

Please TAKE ACTION!!! Contact Governor Rick Scott and ask him to STOP SIGNING DEATH WARRANTS and VETO THE TIMELY JUSTICE ACT.

Gov. Rick Scott – Phone: 850-488-7146

Email: Rick.Scott@eog.myflorida.com


3 thoughts on “Felony Murder Rule: William Van Poyck – Florida

  1. Thank you for this. Below is a link to the latest news. Most distressing. I’ve never succeeded in convincing anyone who was for the death penalty to think otherwise, but I do wonder why I don’t hear of anyone calling for the death penalty for the guards who murdered Frank Valdes in his cell.


  2. Such a shame. .. WE, as a society, have to do better. It’s crazy to “murdering” innocent people for a murder they didn’t commit. Abuse of power. Too common…


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