Adam 'Rattlesnake' Davis granted re-sentencing

- The convicted killer in one of the Bay Area's most notorious murder cases is getting a chance to get off of death row.  

Adam Davis was known as "Rattlesnake" when he, his 15-year-old girlfriend, Valessa Robinson, and their friend, John Whispel hatched a plot to murder Valessa's mother, Carrollwood-based realtor Vicki Robinson.

Her body was found stuffed into a trash can in 1998.

Evidence presented during the trials showed Davis and Valessa tried to kill Vicki by shooting bleach into her veins with a syringe. When that didn't work, Davis cut her throat.

They did it because Vicki disapproved of her teenage daughter's 19-year-old boyfriend and tried to keep the young people from seeing each other.

Vicki's body was found in a trash can less than 10 miles from her home.

Meanwhile, Davis, Valessa, and Whispel made a stop in Ybor City before heading to Arizona.

They were reportedly going to flee to Canada, but they were caught by officers in Texas.

On Wednesday, 20 years after Vicki was killed, Davis appeared in a Tampa courtroom.

Davis' is the latest in a long line of cases where sentencing is being reconsidered after the Supreme Court of the United States ruled Florida's method for applying the death penalty was unconstitutional.

The jury in Davis' case voted 7-5 to sentence him to death. The SCOTUS ruling said in order to hand down a death sentence, the vote should have been unanimous. 

Now, Davis will get a do-over.

According to his attorney, Rick Terrana, Valessa was more to blame for the killing than Davis.

"The evidence clearly showed it was her idea from the beginning," said Terrana. 

He says a new jury will hear from witnesses, victims, and Davis' loved ones before they decide whether or not Davis deserves death for his crimes.

If the new jury is not unanimous, Davis will get life in prison, according to Terrana.

The re-sentencing proceedings have not been scheduled.

Vicki's friend, Jim Englert says he still holds all three teens responsible for her death.

"[Vicki was a] wonderful, innocent, Christian mother who was loved very much," Englert said. 

Another friend, Gibbs Wilson says he supported the death sentence and is disappointed that it could be overturned.

"It sort of reopens the wound of the loss of Vicki," Wilson said. "She had shared with me that her daughter threatened to kill her. Neither of us in our wildest dreams had imagined she would carry through with that."

As for Whispel, he took a plea deal and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. He is scheduled for release in October 2019.

Valessa was sentenced to 20 years in prison and was released early in 2013. She left the Bay Area and reportedly has children of her own now.

Her former lawyer, DeAnn Athan scoffed at Terrana's notion that Valessa was the mastermind behind the plan.

"My client was 15 years old," she said. "Not a dumb kid, but a child who was 15. That's who she was. No, she was not the mastermind."

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