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Justices Reject Death Row Inmate’s Appeal

Florida Supreme Court
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously rejected an appeal by a Death Row inmate sentenced to death for shooting and robbing a man lured from a gay bar.

Justices, in a 35-page ruling, turned down arguments by inmate Ronald Knight that he had received ineffective legal representation during the Palm Beach County case.

Knight was convicted in the 1993 shooting death of Richard Kunkel. The ruling said Knight and two accomplices were accused of luring Kunkel from a gay bar by inviting him to go to a party. They later drove to a secluded area and stopped the car to urinate, the ruling said. Before they got back into the car, Knight shot Kunkel in the back.

Knight, now 48, raised a series of issues about ineffective legal counsel, but the Supreme Court rejected the arguments in an opinion by Chief Justice Jorge Labarga and justices Barbara Pariente, R. Fred Lewis, Peggy Quince and James E.C. Perry. Justices Charles Canady and Ricky Polston agreed with the result, but they did not sign on to the opinion.

Knight, who also has been convicted in another first-degree murder case, is an inmate at Union Correctional Institution, according to the state Department of Corrections website.