Louis Bernard Gaskin

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Banned
Louis Bernard Gaskin





A.K.A.: "Pappa"

Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Robberies
Number of victims: 5
Date of murders: 1986 / 1989
Date of arrest: December 30, 1989
Date of birth: March 11, 1967
Victims profile: Robert Sturmfels, 56, and his wife Georgette, 55 / ???
Method of murder: Shooting (semi-automatic .22-caliber rifle)
Location: Flager/Volusia Counties, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on June 19, 1990



AKA: Louis B. Gaskins; Pappa

DC# 751166
DOB: 03/11/67

Seventh Judicial Circuit, Flagler County Case # 90-01
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Kim Hammond
Attorney, Trial: Raymond Cass, Jr. – Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, Direct Appeal: Christopher Quarles – Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, Collateral Appeals: Robert Strain & Carol Rodriguez – CCRC-M

Date of Offense: 12/20/89

Date of Sentence: 06/19/90

Circumstances of Offense:

On the evening of 12/20/89, Louis Gaskin spotted a light in the Palm Coast home of Robert and Georgette Sturmfels. Gaskin parked his car in the woods and, with a loaded gun, approached the Sturmfels home.

Gaskin saw the Sturmfels in the den and fired two shots through the window, striking Mr. Sturmfels. When Mrs. Sturmfels rose to leave the room, Gaskin shot her once and Mr. Sturmfels once more. Mrs. Sturmfels crawled into the hallway, and when Gaskins saw her through an outside door, he shot her again.

Gaskin then pulled out a window screen, broke a window, and entered the house. He fired one more bullet into each of the Sturmfels’ heads and covered the bodies with blankets. Gaskin then burglarized the house, taking lamps, VCRs, cash, and jewelry.

Gaskin then went to the home of Joseph and Mary Rector, whom he also found in the den of their home. While Gaskin cut their phone lines, the Rectors turned off the lights and went to bed. Gaskin threw a log and rocks at the house to rouse the Rectors, and when Mr. Rector went to investigate the disturbance, Gaskin shot him from outside the house. The Rectors managed to escape in their car, with Gaskin firing shots at the car.

Gaskin was implicated in the crimes by Gaskin’s girlfriend’s cousin, Alfonso Golden. Golden told authorities that Gaskin arrived at Golden’s home on the night of the murders to drop off some Christmas presents.

Gaskin told Golden that he had “jacked” the presents and left the victims “stiff.” Golden learned of the robberies and murders after watching the news and called the authorities to report Gaskin’s involvement in the crimes.

Gaskin was arrested on 12/30/89 and more stolen property was found in a search of his home. After signing a rights-waiver form, Gaskin confessed to the crimes and led the authorities to further evidence of the crime in a nearby canal. The “presents” left at the Golden’s home were subsequently identified as belonging to the Sturmfels.

Prior Incarceration History in the State of Florida:

On 06/19/90, Gaskin was sentenced to 2.5 years each for two charges of Burglary that occurred on 06/09/88.

At the time of sentencing for the Sturmfels murders, Gaskin was under indictment for numerous crimes. In a plea agreement with the State, whereby Gaskin avoided multiple death sentences, Gaskin pled guilty to the following charges:


Date


Offense


Sentence


County


Case #


Prison Sentence

09/15/1989


1ST DEG MUR,COM.OF FELONY


06/26/1990


VOLUSIA


9000068


SENTENCED TO LIFE

09/15/1989


1ST DEG MUR,COM.OF FELONY


06/26/1990


VOLUSIA


9000068


SENTENCED TO LIFE

09/15/1989


ROBBERY W/FIREARM OR D/WEAPON


06/26/1990


VOLUSIA


9000068


SENTENCED TO LIFE

12/20/1989


AGG ASSLT-W/WPN NO INTENT TO KILL


08/09/1990


FLAGLER


9000311


15Y 0M 0D

12/20/1989


POSS.FIREARM BY FELON


08/09/1990


FLAGLER


9000017


15Y 0M 0D

11/20/1986


1ST DG MUR/PREMED. OR ATT.


08/09/1990


FLAGLER


9000007


SENTENCED TO LIFE

11/20/1986


BURGLARY,ARMED W/EXP. OR WEAPON


08/09/1990


FLAGLER


9000007


SENTENCED TO LIFE


Trial Summary:

03/27/90 Indicted as follows:

Count I - First-Degree Murder (Robert Sturmfels)
Count II - First-Degree Murder–Felony (Robert Sturmfels)
Count III - First-Degree Murder (Georgette Sturmfels)
Count IV - First-Degree Murder–Felony (Georgette Sturmfels)
Count V - Armed Robbery (Sturmfels)
Count VI - Armed Burglary (Sturmfels)
Count VII - Attempted First-Degree Murder (Joseph Rector)
Count VIII - Attempted First-Degree Murder (Mary Rector)
Count IX - Armed Robbery (Rectors)
Count X - Armed Burglary (Rectors)

06/15/90 Jury returned guilty verdicts on all counts of the indictment, except on Count VIII, where the jury returned a not guilty verdict.

06/18/90 Jury recommended death sentences by two votes of 8-4

06/19/90 Sentenced as follows:

Count I - First-Degree Murder – Death
Count II - First-Degree Murder – Death
Count III - First-Degree Murder – Death
Count IV - First-Degree Murder – Death
Count V - Armed Robbery – 30 years
Count VI - Armed Burglary – Life Imprisonment
Count VII - Attempted First-Degree Murder – Life Imprisonment
Count IX - Armed Robbery – 30 years
Count X - Armed Burglary – Life Imprisonment

08/09/90 State and Defense agree to resentencing on Counts V & IX.

Resentenced as follows:

Count V - Armed Robbery – Life Imprisonment
Count IX - Armed Robbery – Life Imprisonment

Case Information:

On 07/18/90, Gaskin filed a Direct Appeal with the Florida Supreme Court, citing the following errors: denial of a motion for change of venue; erroneously adjudicating him guilty for both felony and premeditated murder in each of the two deaths; failure of the court stenographer to record certain bench proceedings; impermissible comments made by the trial judge; unconstitutional capital sentencing statute; Gaskin’s absence from a firing range demonstration; and erroneous consideration of aggravating and mitigating circumstances.

On 12/05/91, the FSC ruled that the Circuit Court improperly adjudicated Gaskin guilty of both felony and premeditated murder and ordered two of the death sentences vacated, leaving two death sentences intact and affirming the other convictions and sentences.

On 03/16/92, Gaskin filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court that was granted on 06/29/92. The USSC remanded the case to the FSC for reconsideration in light of its ruling on the constitutionality of Florida’s heinous, atrocious, and cruel aggravating circumstance.

On 03/18/93, the FSC again affirmed the convictions and sentences of Gaskin.

On 08/10/93, Gaskin filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court that was denied on 10/12/93.

On 03/21/95, Gaskin filed a 3.850 Motion with the Circuit Court that was denied, without evidentiary hearing, on 01/17/97.

On 03/17/97, Gaskin filed a 3.850 Motion Appeal with the Florida Supreme Court, citing claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. On 07/01/99, the FSC remanded the case to the Circuit Court for an evidentiary hearing.

On 04/13/00, the Circuit Court held an evidentiary hearing and denied the 3.850 Motion on 08/24/00.

On 09/28/00, Gaskin filed a 3.850 Motion Appeal with the Florida Supreme Court, citing issues of ineffective assistance of counsel. The FSC affirmed the denial of the 3.850 Motion on 06/13/02.

On 06/27/03, Gaskin filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus with the U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida that was denied on 03/23/06

On 04/19/06, Gaskin filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus Appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit on 04/19/06 that is pending.


The Ninja killer


On the night of November 20, 1989, Louis Gaskin dressed for murder. He planned to kill and pillage and wore a black ninja costume to blend in with the night. Ninjas are trained assassins, he later told police in a detailed confession, and Gaskin’s dream was to be ninja killer. As he walked out the door of his home, he had armed himself with a semi-automatic .22-caliber rifle.

The unsuspecting victims of his dark fantasy lounged in the den of their Palm Coast, Florida home watching television. Robert Sturmfels, 56, had settled into his recliner while his wife Georgette, 55, sat on the sofa. They’d never heard of the career criminal who was about to end their lives.

Gaskin drove aimlessly through the darkness, searching for a target. When he passed 10 Ricker Place, he saw a light shining through a patch of woods. Parking his car beneath a grove of trees, he moved silently toward the house. He stood for long moments in silence, watching, scoping it ninja-style. Then he circled the house. Once, twice, six times. Gaskin fancied himself a warrior moving in for the kill. Looking through the den window, he had a clear shot.

He raised the rifle to his shoulder, aimed, and fired. Robert felt the bullet smash into his chest and came up out of his chair. Gaskin fired again. This time, Robert collapsed onto the floor. It took Georgette a few seconds to realize what was happening. She leaped out of her chair and began running toward the hallway. A bullet took her down. Robert somehow stood again and began to stagger away. A third shot hit him in the back and he fell again.

Georgette, bleeding heavily from a back wound, crawled down the hallway, out of Gaskin’s sight. He circled the house until he came to a set of French doors. There he saw Georgette struggling to get to her feet. He fired once more and she crumpled to the floor.

Gaskin inhaled the cool Florida air. Of all the many crimes he’d committed — burglary, robbery, selling and using drugs, sexually assaulting children — this was the most exciting. He pulled a hunting knife and slashed a window screen at the back of the house. Unlatching the window, he entered. He reloaded his gun, walked over to Robert and shot him in the back of the head. Then he placed the barrel of the rifle against the back of Georgette’s head and blew her brains out.

Gaskin knew that the nearest house was a quarter of a mile away so he relaxed as he gathered up items he could sell: jewelry, VCRs, lamps, a clock, an iron, household appliances. He looked for guns and drugs but found none. He checked Georgette’s purse but found only credit cards. Robert’s wallet contained $ 300 and more cards so he took it. Gaskin placed the items in the victims’ truck. He then drove through the woods to his own car where he transferred his loot.

As he drove away, he left the bodies of two innocent victims inside the silent house.

But Gaskin wasn’t done. He’d spied a second secluded house just down the road. Joseph and Mary Rector had watched the eleven o’clock news and were on their way to bed when they heard a thump outside. Joseph investigated but saw nothing. The noises continued. Court documents state that “after hearing a similar noise for the third time, Rector told his wife to call the sheriff. Mrs. Rector soon discovered that their phone was not working. They took the phone into bedroom where they tried plugging it into another jack without success. As he stood in the dark bedroom, Rector saw his window shade appear to explode. He looked down, saw blood, and realized he had been shot.”

The ninja killer had thrown rocks and logs against the house to get his victims to come into view so he could shoot them.

Robert and Mary rushed out of the house and climbed into their car. Robert needed to get to the hospital. As they screeched out of the driveway, more shots rang out and the Rectors heard bullets thudding into the car. With Mary driving, they were able to reach the hospital and call police.

Detectives arrived at the Rector home. It had been ransacked. As they continued their investigation, a postal carrier noticed a broken window at the Sturmfels home and reported it. There cops found the bodies of Robert and Georgette.

After burglarizing the Rector home, Gaskin drove to Alfonso Golden’s home. He asked his cousin to store the stolen items for him. Golden agreed. Gaskin volunteered that he’d “jacked” the loot and told Golden that the victims are “stiff.” “If you don’t believe it,” Gaskin bragged, “watch the news.”

Golden, who also had a police record, waited a few days but eventually contacted police. Gaskin was arrested and quickly gave a detailed confession. He led authorities to a canal where he’d hidden the credit cards, wallet, and other items.

When asked why he’d done it, Gaskin replied, “God said, ‘No.’ The devil said, ‘Yes’...The devil had more of a hold [on me] than God did.”

Joseph Rector recovered from his wounds.

Louis Bernard Gaskin was tried and convicted of two counts of first degree murder. He was given two death sentences.

He claims to have has found religion. “I think of God,” he said. “I play checkers and read the Bible.”

His victims, Robert and Georgette Sturmfels, have been dead for nearly twenty years.

SEX: M RACE: B TYPE: N MOTIVE: CE

MO: Killed robber/burglar victims in Flagler and Volusia counties.

DISPOSITION: Multiple trials in 1990; condemned on four counts; life terms on three counts; six life terms for robbery/burglary.
 
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