Daniel Jacob Craven Jr. is now the first man in the 14th Judicial Circuit to be placed on Death Row since the 2016 U.S. Supreme Court decision to upend Florida’s capital punishment procedures.
MARIANNA — A Graceville Correctional Facility inmate who’d been serving a life sentence for murder has now been condemned to death for fatally stabbing his cellmate with a shank with the intention of starting a “race riot.”
Circuit Judge Christopher Patterson imposed the sentence Wednesday after a unanimous jury verdict earlier this year that 32-year-old Daniel Jacob Craven Jr. be put to death. He had already been convicted of killing his cellmate, John H. Anderson, known also as "Rev," in June 2015 by repeatedly stabbing him with a shank at Graceville Correctional Facility. Craven is now the first man in the 14th Judicial Circuit to be placed on Death Row since the 2016 U.S. Supreme Court decision to upend Florida’s capital punishment procedures.
Patterson weighed several aggravating factors – including premeditation, the heinous nature of Anderson’s death and Craven’s history of violence – in his decision and finalized his written order, telling Craven: "may God have mercy on your soul."
After hearing Craven’s history on June 29, a 12-member jury recommended a sentence of death for Craven by a unanimous vote. However, what the jury didn’t hear was that Craven had expressed a desire to either be put to death or keep killing. He recently attempted to kill detention officers while incarcerated in Santa Rosa.
Craven received the bevy of additional charges after tying 6-inch metal shanks to his hands in preparation as officers lined up outside his cell. Minutes after breaching the door, one of the correctional officers was carried out almost lifeless, turning purple and frothing at the mouth. A second officer was injured in the encounter with Craven, who jail officials said aimed to kill the officers. Both officers survived.
Craven was charged May 17 with two counts of attempted homicide and two counts of aggravated battery on law enforcement.
During the trial, the jury heard testimony that Craven told detention officers he killed his "bunkie" at GCF at about 2 a.m. the morning of June 28, 2015 because they were of different races and religions, because Craven wanted to start a race riot in prison and partly based on the actions of Dylann Roof, a white supremacist convicted of killing nine black church-goers in Charleston, South Carolina.
Craven "indicated he 'always' had the shank and when the opportunity presented itself he began stabbing his sleeping cell mate," Patterson wrote. Craven "indicated he intentionally aimed for Anderson's throat to keep him from screaming... (Craven) indicated the shank was not 'sharp enough,' and was dulled like a butter knife, so it required pressure to be used."
Craven admitted to stabbing Anderson about 13 times and then gave specific instructions to a shower drain where authorities could find the murder weapon, which they did. He showed no remorse after the killing and often appeared to be jovial during the course of the trial. And it was not the first time Craven had boasted about killing a man.
He was already serving a life sentence for the death of a romantic rival in April 2011.
According to court records, Craven also confessed to investigators as to the details about the violent killing of Ronald Justice, whose marriage Craven had broken up by having an affair with his wife.
Craven went to home where Justice was squatting on April 6, 2011 and attacked him with a baseball bat while Justice begged for his life
Craven then handcuffed Justice outside the house and drowned him in a dog bowl. Craven wrapped Justice's body up and took him to an Apopka home, where he burned the remains for several days in a pit in which Craven frequently burned furniture and trash.
In a recorded conversation, Craven bragged, “I wouldn’t have burned and killed [Justice] if I didn’t know what I was doing,” adding if he was arrested, “I’d get a lawyer... pro bono just like Casey Anthony.”
Craven’s sister later told detectives Craven had claimed killing four other people in Florida, something detectives continue to explore, though records show no additional charges in his court files.