An execution date for Daniel Anthony Lucas has been set for April 27, 2016. Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens offers the following information in the case against Daniel Anthony Lucas for the 1998 murder of eleven-year-old Bryan Moss, fifteen-year-old Kristin Moss, and their father Steven Moss.
Daniel Anthony Lucas’ direct appeal proceedings and his state and federal habeas corpus proceedings have been concluded. Accordingly, on April 7, 2016, the Superior Court of Jones County issued an order setting a seven-day period of time during which the execution of Daniel Anthony Lucas may take place. The period of time ordered by the Superior Court will last from noon on April 27, 2016, to noon on May 4, 2016. The execution has been set for Wednesday evening, April 27, 2016.
Lucas’ Crime (April 23, 1998)
The Georgia Supreme Court summarized the facts of the crime as follows:
The evidence adduced at trial, which included Lucas's videotaped confession to investigators and testimony regarding his inculpatory statement to a friend, showed the following. Lucas and Brandon Joseph Rhode burglarized the home of Steven and Gerri Ann Moss twice on April 23, 1998. During the second burglary of the Moss home, 11-year-old Bryan Moss returned home from school. Lucas and Rhode confronted Bryan and forced him to sit in a chair, and then Lucas fired at Bryan with a .25 caliber handgun, inflicting a non-fatal wound to his upper arm and shoulder. Lucas led Bryan to a bedroom where he shot the boy repeatedly with the .25 caliber handgun. In the meantime, Rhode met 15-year-old Kristin Moss as she arrived from school, placed her in a chair, and shot her twice with a .357 caliber handgun. Rhode then shot Steven Moss four times with the .357 caliber handgun as Steven arrived home. Finally, Lucas obtained a .22 caliber handgun from Rhode's automobile and shot Bryan and Kristin Moss both again. Both Bryan and Kristin as well as their father Steven Moss died as a result of any number of these gunshot wounds inflicted by Lucas.
Several witnesses observed Rhode's automobile as Lucas and Rhode fled in it from the Mosses' home. One of these witnesses identified Lucas as the passenger in the automobile. A search of the automobile revealed a recently-used spare tire and damage to both the front and rear bumpers. The damage to the bumpers was shown to be consistent with damage to a propane tank and a cinder block at the Mosses' home. Expert testimony demonstrated that paint left on the cinder block matched the paint on Rhode's automobile. Further expert testimony showed that an impression left in the Mosses' dirt driveway could have been made by the spare tire.
Lucas v. State, 274 Ga. 640, 641-642 (2001).
The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals expanded on the facts presented at trial:
On April 23, 1998, Lucas and Brandon Joseph Rhode twice burglarized the home of Steven and Gerri Ann Moss. During their second burglary, eleven-year-old Bryan Moss returned home from school. When Lucas and Rhode saw Bryan, they confronted him and forced him to sit in a chair. Without warning, Lucas shot Bryan with a .25 caliber handgun causing non-fatal injuries to his upper arm and shoulder. Lucas led the wounded boy to a bedroom, where he shot Bryan repeatedly with the .25 caliber handgun. Meanwhile, fifteen-year-old Kristin Moss (Bryan's sister) also arrived home from school. Rhode placed her in a chair and shot her twice with a .357 caliber handgun. When the children's father, Steven Moss, came home shortly after, Rhode shot him too, four times with the .357 caliber handgun. Upon discovering what Rhode had done, Lucas retrieved a .22 caliber handgun from Rhode's car and still again shot both children, Bryan and Kristin Moss. The three members of the Moss family died from the gunshot wounds.
Several eyewitnesses saw Lucas and Rhode flee in Rhode's red car from the Mosses' home. One witness identified Lucas as the passenger. Rhode's car was linked to the scene by damage to the vehicle, a tire impression, and paint left at the scene. Lucas admitted his role in the killings in a videotaped confession.
Lucas v. Warden, 771 F.3d 785, 789 (11th Cir. 2014).
The Trial and Direct Appeal (1999-2002)
On September 16, 1999, following a jury trial, Lucas was convicted of three counts of malice murder, three counts of felony murder, two counts of burglary and one count of kidnapping with bodily injury. The jury’s recommendation of a death sentence for each count of murder was returned on September 17, 1999. The Georgia Supreme Court affirmed Lucas’ convictions and death sentences on November 19, 2001. Lucas v. State, 274 Ga. 640 (2001). The United States Supreme Court denied Lucas’ request to appeal on October 7, 2002. Lucas v. Georgia, 537 U.S. 840 (2002), rehearing denied, Lucas v. Georgia, 537 U.S. 1068 (2002).
State Habeas Corpus Proceedings (2003-2010)
Lucas filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the Superior Court of Butts County, Georgia on August 13, 2003. An evidentiary hearing was held on July 9-11, 2007. On June 24, 2008, the state habeas corpus court entered an order denying Lucas state habeas relief. The Georgia Supreme Court denied Lucas’ appeal on June 29, 2009. The United States Supreme Court denied Lucas’ request to appeal on March 1, 2010. Lucas v. Upton, 559 U.S. 979 (2010).
Federal Habeas Corpus Proceedings (2009-2015)
Lucas filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia on August 20, 2009. On March 25, 2013, the district court denied Lucas federal habeas relief. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s denial of relief on November 12, 2014. Lucas v. Warden, 771 F.3d 785 (11th Cir. 2014). The United States Supreme Court denied Lucas’ request to appeal on October 5, 2015. Lucas v. Humphrey, 136 S.Ct. 135 (2015), rehearing denied, Lucas v. Humphrey, 136 S.Ct. 571 (2015).