"I know I'm guilty. What's the point in having capital punishment if it's not going to be used in the proper manner?"
-Wayne Doty, Death Row inmate #0-375690
Murder is humanity’s most reviled concept. In order to take another person’s life, you have to transcend the very idea of morality. The only sentence in The Bible that seems to evoke virtually no controversy whatsoever is the sixth commandment from God, found in Exodus 20:13... 'Thou shalt not kill.'
What happens if you do take a life, though? When someone crosses that line that seems so unimaginably far away, so far beyond the horizon, there are serious consequences. Personal, social, psychological and legal consequences. In every village, town and city, in every county and state, in every country and on every continent on Earth there are consequences. But who gets to decide exactly what those consequences are? Well, when it comes to the legal side, it’s certainly not the killer...
Wayne Doty wants to die. He’s urging the state of Florida to take his life as quickly and ruthlessly as he took the lives of Harvey Horne II and Xavier Rodriguez. It’s not a decision for him to make, though. That burden falls to a jury of twelve of Doty’s peers.
Harvey Eugene Horne III, the son of Doty’s first victim, doesn’t want him to die, however. Horne Jr. wants Doty to become the state's oldest inmate. It’s his desire to see him die ‘a very old man in prison'. Why? Well, you’ve got to think that it’s because it’s the opposite of what his father’s killer wants. He believes that Wayne Doty lost the right to dictate his own future the night he fired five bullets into his father’s face.
Horne Sr. was a night watchman at a factory in Plant City, Florida. According to Doty, he sold crystal meth as a sideline, a sideline that brought Doty to Horne’s house one night in 1996. The deal went awry and a fight broke out. Doty, who claims he was only carrying a handgun that night in order to trade it for drugs, pulled the pistol and shot Horne to death with it.
Doty was quickly apprehended by state police. 23-year-old methheads who haven’t slept in a week aren’t usually the most discreet or the best at keeping their heads down. Due to having no priors, he was sentenced to life without parole, escaping the state’s death sentence. Once inside the Everglades Correctional Institution, Wayne attempted suicide a few times but soon settled into prison life.
Soon, however, he would kill again.
"I'm a violent individual, that's just the way I am. That's what's been embedded in me since I was a kid.”
Doty was born to a physically abusive father but a loving mother. Unfortunately for little Wayne and Mrs Doty, he was taken away as a baby by his domineering and controlling father, thereby starving him of any love or nurturing as he grew up. He was a daily witness to - and victim of - his old man’s horrific temper and saw scores of women beaten senseless and half-to-death as he grew into a young man. By the age of 15, when Doty moved out to fend for himself, his programming was complete. Violence was the answer to any issue, problem or dispute.
The same can be said of a lot of criminals. That doesn’t excuse their violent behaviour. To the victim’s families, this tale of childhood woe offers no solace. All it does is help explain events a little. Wayne Doty knows he’s a violent person. He knows he’s a danger to society. And he knows why too.
He also knew that the state of Florida simply must sentence him to death.
They did it before. On June 5th 2013, Doty was given the death sentence and spent three years on Death Row. He didn’t get to make that much-desired trip to the other side, though. His sentence was later dismissed as unconstitutional because the jury voted 10-2 and not unanimously. This retrospective ‘Hurst decision’ cost Doty his desired outcome and saw him return to general population 36 months later with another sentence of ‘Life without chance of parole’.
The reason for the death sentence in the first place? Another murder. Doty was making money inside selling contraband and claims that a fellow inmate began muscling in on his turf. Angry, disrespected and keen to even the score and show everyone that he was no soft touch, his retribution was as swift as it was brutal.
Xavier Rodriguez had, apparently, stolen a packet of cigarettes from Doty. When asked about it, Rodriguez just insulted him, calling him a ‘p*ssy a*s cracker’. In prison, this kind of slight simply can’t be tolerated.
Using strips of bedsheets, Doty tied up and strangled Rodriguez, before stabbing him in the abdomen 25 times, painting the walls of the crimson with blood. Doty was no longer just ‘a man who had killed someone’. He was a stone-cold killer.
“I've done something wrong and I've got to pay for my actions."
Is that Doty's true motivation for seeking the death sentence? To pay penance? Or does he just want to give up and check out? Is he, like Harvey Horne’s son says 'a murdering coward'? He's certainly a murderer, no one argues that, least of all Doty himself. Is he a coward though? Or does he just believe in the idea of ‘an eye for an eye’?
Could his motivation be, instead, simply to avoid the violence, fear and horror of everyday maximum security prison life? Death Row is a beachside holiday in comparison to the brutality of the prison yard. Seclusion, peace and quiet, bigger cells… For many inmates, it’s the preferable option.
In interviews, Wayne Doty comes across as an honest and upfront man who accepts his crimes and seeks justice for the families. But when the families speak out and actually claim they’d rather he rots in jail… Well, then. You’ve got to wonder just what the man’s real motives are.
Episode seven of death row documentary series I am a Killer explores Wayne Doty’s story in depth and asks the question of whether he should still have agency over his own fate, given his crimes. Watch it and decide for yourself.
Murder. It’s a matter of life and death in so many different ways.