Cannon Appeals Death Sentence in Christmas Eve Murder

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By Julie Montanaro
April 9, 2014

A Gadsden County man on death row for a Christmas Eve murder is appealing that sentence to the Florida Supreme Court.

Marvin Cannon was sentenced to death for the 2010 murder of Zachariah Morgan.

Investigators say Morgan walked into a trap and was stabbed more than 30 times when he and a friend showed up to pick up some deer corn.

Cannon's attorney argued before the state Supreme Court today.

Defense attorney Baya Harrison claims the death sentence is cruel and unusual punishment and is disproportionate to the life sentence given to Cannon's co-defendant Antone McMillan.

Harrison claims there was insufficient evidence to sustain accompanying robbery and attempted robbery convictions as well as errors in the jury instructions.

To read the appeal and accompanying briefs yourself:

Quincy, FL -- Marvin Cannon sat motionless as Judge Jonathan Sjostrom read his decision on whether or not Cannon would be put to death.

"Accordingly it is ordered to the judged that the defendent, Marvin Cannon, is hearby sentenced to death for the murder of Zacariah Morgan," said Judge Sjostrom while reading his sentencing decision.

A jury recommended Cannon be put to death after finding him guilty in October for the murder of Zacahriah Morgan on Christmas Eve of 2010.

Morgan's family and friends embraced after hearing the sentence.

"I was thankful. We were all hoping that we would get this verdict, and we were hoping for the death penalty. My father was a proponent of the death penalty and as close as we can come to justice this is it," said Morgan's daughter Aliesha.

Sean Neel, the man who was with Morgan that Christmas Eve and was also stabbed during the attack but managed to get away, was also in attendance.

"It helps tremendously, we can't bring Zack back but I know he's looking over us," said Neel.

Cannon was led away wearing his Gadsden County Inmate's uniform with his hands and feet both shackled. He has 30 days to appeal the sentence.

This is the first death sentence in Quincy, Florida since 1994.

Quincy, FL - November 15, 2012 - 9 am - A Gadsden County Judge sentenced Marvin Cannon to death this morning. Cannon's sentence is believed to be the first death sentence ruling in Quincy since 1994. Cannon has 30 days to appeal.

Stay with WCTV for the latest updates on the case.

Quincy, FL, November 2, 2012 - 6:26 pm - The defense attorneys for a Gadsden County man facing the death penalty say the convicted murderer's family could be partly to blame for his situation.

Marvin Cannon's defense attorneys had one last shot to speak to the judge face-to-face to keep their client alive.

Last month, a jury recommended the death penalty for Cannon in the death of Zachariah Morgan.

In a hearing Friday, a psychologist said he diagnosed Cannon with anxiety disorder and depressive disorder.

But, not the classic symptoms of depression, he says, such as suicidal thoughts. "But other indications of depression like, concentration difficulties, fatigue, sleep disturbance, physical symptoms were present." Dr. Terry Leland says.

Cannon is charged will killing Morgan in Gadsden County on Christmas Eve of 2010.

His attorneys point out that Cannon followed the same path as his older brothers -- all of whom have been to prison.

Defense Attorney Clyde Taylor says, "Every single one of his sibling role models, whatever you want to call them, had been in trouble. Thus, it would be logic that he didn't have a choice, if you will. I'm not making it a choice as something you consciously decide, but, that's what your environment is."

Cannon also has a sister who's serving life in prison for murder.

Defense Attorney Armando Garcia says, "Dr. Leland's testimony does bear out that there are emotional deficits that play in this psyche that6 has and does impact how this case winds up. We plea with you your honor, do not impose the death penalty."

The judge is scheduled to pronounce his decision on a sentence on November 15th.

Quincy, FL - November 2, 2012 - 12:28 pm - A hearing is scheduled for November 15th at 8:30 a.m.
The judge says he will pronounce his decision on a sentence then.

Quincy, FL - November 2, 2012 - 10:19 am - A psychologist is on the stand now. Dr. Terry Leland says Cannon's I.Q. is borderline between low average and mental retardation.

He diagnosed Cannon with Depressive Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, and Alcohol Abuse.

The defense attorney pointed out that Cannon's siblings have all been in prison before. Dr. Leland says that can have an impact on a person. He says that it seems like something "bad" happened within the family, but says HR does not have a handle on Cannon's family dynamics.

Quincy, FL - November 2, 2012 - 9:56 am - Marvin Cannon is back in court this morning. He is convicted of killing Zachariah Morgan on Christmas Eve in 2010. Last month, a jury recommended the death penalty for Cannon. The judge has not ruled yet whether he will follow that recommendation.

During this morning's hearing, the victim's family members begged the judge to give Cannon the death penalty. Morgan's wife, sister, two brothers, and son all addressed the judge.

Morgan's wife, Lena Morgan, says she still feel the same pain she did when she first got the news almost two years ago that her husband was dead.

Quincy, FL - October 10, 2012 - 9 of the 12 members of the jury recommended the death penalty for Marvin Cannon. This after Cannon was convicted Monday for the murder of Zachariah Morgan.

Marvin Cannon didn't flinch after judge Jonathan Sjostrom read the jury's decision to him. A majority 9 of the 12 jurors recommended the death penalty.

Hugs and smiles were on the faces of Zachariah Morgans family and friends.

They made impact statements about the man Morgan was before his brutal murder on Christmas Eve of 2010.

Aliesha Morgan, the victim's daughter stated, "my family lost a patriarch a provider a husband father papa brother uncle and the list goes on."

Sean Neel, friend and attack survivor said, "Zach was more than just a friend to me ill never be able to replace Zach Morgan he was like a brother to me"

Cannons mother and father testified for the defense, and when Cannon was given the option to address the jury, he declined.

The jury's recommendation doesn't mean cannon will definitely face the death penalty. There will be a hearing on November 2nd and after that, the judge will have 30 days to make a decision.

Quincy, FL - 2:52 pm - Hearing scheduled for November 2nd. Judge may or may not rule on jury's recommendation at that time

Post your reactions to the Death Penalty decision on Twitter, #cannontrial @WCTV

Quincy, FL - 2: 38pm - By a vote of 9 to 3 the jury recommends the death penalty for Marvin Cannon.

WCTV Reporter Matt Galka has been following the trial and is at the courthouse now. He'll bring you reactions from the result tonight on WCTV Eyewitness News.

Quincy, FL - 2:38pm - The verdict is imminent in the trial of Marvin Cannon... The jury began deliberations just before 1:30.

WCTV Reporter Matt Galka has been following the trial and is at the courthouse now. He'll bring you reactions from the result tonight on WCTV Eyewitness News.

Quincy, FL - October 10, 2012 - Marvin Cannon, the man found guilty for a 2010 Christmas Eve murder is being sentenced today... A jury will have to decide whether he gets life or death.

Marvin Cannon was found guilty by a jury on all 5 counts he faced Monday in regards to the murder of Zachariah Morgan. Today he finds out if that same jury will elect to go for the death penalty or life in prison.

Six people have already taken the stand this morning. Those who testified included Morgan's youngest daughter Aleisha, his brother Isaiah, and Sean Neel, the man who was with Morgan Christmas Eve of 2010 and survived the attack.

Those three made impact statements to the jury about the man Morgan was. The defense called Cannon's father, Johnny Cannon, and mother, Dora Cannon, to the stand in hopes of trying to spare him of the death penalty.

Closing arguments are set to begin followed by deliberation by the jury.

WCTV will bring you the latest information as it becomes available.

Quincy, FL - October 8, 2012 - Marvin Cannon was found guilty by a Gadsden County jury on all five counts he faced.

Cannon was found guilty of first degree murder and armed robbery of Zachariah Morgan and attempted first degree murder and attempted armed robbery of Sean Neel. He was also found guilty of arson of a vehicle.

Cannon faces sentencing Wednesday, October 10th, 2012.

A Gadsden county jury is deliberating the fate of a Quincy man accused of a Christmas Eve murder in 2010.

Marvin Cannon faces five counts including first degree murder of Zachariah Morgan. He faces a first degree murder charge as well as 4 other counts, and if found guilty he could face the death penalty.

The jury here has been deliberating for almost 4 hours. They started here at 8:30 this morning and both sides gave their closing arguments, and now it's up to the jury to decide Cannons fate.

Along with 1st degree murder, Cannon faces attempted first degree murder of Sean Neel, a man who was with Morgan that night in 2010 and was also stabbed, but got away.

He also faces armed robbery, attempted armed robbery, and arson of a vehicle charges.

Gadsden County, FL - The Prosecution is giving its closing arguments, with the Defense up next. The Jury will deliberate 5 counts: 1st degree murder, Attempted 1st degree murder, Armed robbery, Attempted armed robbery, and Arson of a vehicle.

WCTV will bring you more details as they become available.

Gadsden County, FL - Both prosecution and defense have rested their cases in murder trial of Marvin Cannon. Earlier Friday, defense called Cannon’s father to the stand. He was their only witness. The trial will resume on October 8th with closing arguments. Then the jury will begin deliberations.

WCTV will bring you more information as soon as it becomes available.

Gadsden County, FL - Alan Parrott is now testifying. Neel testified that he fled to a nearby property where there was a family gathering on Christmas Eve. He told them to get their guns, that he had been stabbed, and they Cannon and McMillan were killing his friend. Alan Parrott, one of the people at the property, testifies that he drove to the scene with a gun, and found McMillan trying to run, and held him there until police arrived.

WCTV will have the highlights of today's trial in the 6pm and 11pm broadcasts.

Gadsden County, FL

As of 12:12 pm:

Sean Neel described how he had no doubts that Marvin Cannon started stabbing him first, not McMillan. He was hit twice near the neck, fled the scene and heard Morgan screaming.

Gadsden County, FL

As of 11:15 am:

Sean Neel has just taken the stand. A friend of Zachariah Morgan, he survived the Christmas Eve stabbing.

Gadsden County, FL

As of 9:38 am:

The opening statements for the Marvin Cannon trial are underway this morning. WCTV Reporter Matt Galka is at the trial and reports that Cannon is seated with attorneys. The state says they have around 51 exhibits of evidence prepared.

Stay with WCTV as we bring you coverage of the trial all day.

Gadsden County, FL - October 1, 2012 - Marvin Cannon is accused of brutally stabbing Marianna businessman Zack Morgan 35 times in Quincy, Florida, killing him and severely injuring Morgan's friend Sean Neel.

Cannon and Antone McMillan were arrested, but not before Cannon led deputies on a 72-hour manhunt following the crime.

Cannon's trial could begin as soon as Tuesday, October 2nd, with the state seeking the death penalty if Cannon is convicted.

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