Sentencing Data

Recent Death Sentences by Name, Race, County, and Year

2020 Death Sentences by Name, Race, County, and Year

Driven by the combined effects of a global pandemic and the continuing decline in public support for capital punishment, new death sentences reached historic lows in 2020. Fewer new death sentences were imposed in the United States in 2020 than in any other year since the Supreme Court struck down all existing capital punishments statutes in the U.S. in 1972. With counties unable to safely conduct capital trials, states imposed a record low 18 new death sentences, 42% below the previous record low of 31 set in 2016.

Most of these sentences (11) were imposed in the first three months of 2020, before courts across the country halted trials as a precaution against the pandemic. Nearly all the death sentences imposed after that time involved judge-only proceedings, consisting of court decisions formally accepting pre-pandemic jury sentencing recommendations or trials in which a defendant waived the right to a jury.

Only seven states – Alabama, California, Florida, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Texas – imposed new death sentences this year, and just three – California, Florida, and Texas – imposed more than one.

Only two counties in the United States – Riverside, California (3 sentences) and Lafayette, Florida (2 sentences) – imposed more than one death sentence, and the Lafayette death sentences were the product of a single trial in which both defendants pled guilty, waived a sentencing jury, represented themselves, and presented no case for life. This was the third time in the last five years that Riverside County led the nation in death sentences. The fifteen counties that imposed death sentences represent less than half of one percent of all U.S. counties.



Defendants Sentenced to Death in 2020

First NameMiddle NameLast NameStateDate Sentence Formally ImposedCountyRace DefendantNumber / Race of Victim(s)Age at CrimeNon-Unanimous / Judge Sentencing
Mark Sievers Florida 1/3/20 Lee White 1 White Female 47
Byron Shepard Oklahoma 1/3/20 Pottawatomie White 1 White Male 36
Edward Littleton McCauley Arizona 1/9/20 Maricopa White 1 White Female 58
Charles Merritt California 1/21/20 San Bernardino White 3 White Males, 1 White Female 53
Israel Ramirez Guardado California 1/24/20 Riverside Latinx 1 Latina Female 37
Michael Gordon Florida 2/7/20 Polk Black 2 White Females 34
Willie Cory Godbolt Mississippi 2/27/20 Lincoln Black 1 White Male, 2 Black Males, 1 Black Female 35
Brandon McCall Texas 2/27/20 Collin White 1 White Male 26
Lucky Ward Texas 3/10/20 Harris Black 1 Latino Female, 1 Black Female 44
Jesse Bell Florida 3/13/20 Lafayette White 1 White Male 45 1-judge sentencing
Barry Noetzel Florida 3/13/20 Lafayette White 1 White Male 45 1-judge sentencing
Joel Drain Ohio 5/18/20 Warren White 1 White Male 37 3-judge sentencing
Hernan Rodriguez California 6/26/20 Tulare Latinx 2 Latino Males 24
Vincent James Marples California 6/26/20 Riverside White 1 White Female 34
Granville Ritchie Florida 9/11/20 Hillsborough Black 1 Black Female 35
Marlin Joseph Florida 11/19/20 Palm Beach Black 2 Black Females 26
Thomas Fletcher Florida 11/24/20 Santa Rosa White 1 White Male 50
Jesse Perez Torres California 12/4/20 Riverside Latinx 1 Latina Female 34

2020 Death Sentences by Race of Defendant and Victim

RaceNumber of Defendants Sentenced to Death
White 10
Black

5

Latinx

3

Total

18

RaceNumber of Victims
White

11

Latinx

3

Black

2

Multiple Races (Including White)1
Multiple Races (Not Including White)1



2020 Death Sentences by County

CountyNumber of Death Sentences
Riverside, CA 3
Lafayette, FL 2
Collin, TX 1
Harris, TX 1
Hillsborough, FL 1
Lee, FL 1
Lincoln, MS 1
Maricopa, AZ 1
Palm Beach, FL 1
Polk, FL 1
Pottawatomie, OK 1
San Bernardino, CA 1
Santa Rosa, FL 1
Tulare, CA 1
Warren, OH 1

2020 Death Sentences by State

StateDeath Sentences in 2020
Florida 7

California

5

Texas

2

Arizona

1

Mississippi

1

Ohio

1

Oklahoma

1