Appeal rejected in murders of Panhandle couple

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JOSHUA BRANDYN GASKEY_7742516735911676816

(The News Service of Florida) An appeals court Tuesday rejected arguments by a man convicted of murdering a Northwest Florida couple in 2015 as he stole their prescription medications.

Attorneys for Joshua Brandyn Gaskey argued that comments he made to investigators should have been suppressed because he invoked his rights to remain silent and to representation by legal counsel. A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal, however, turned down the arguments in a 10-page decision. Gaskey was sentenced to life in prison in the April 2015 shooting deaths of Sheley and Jacquelyn Brooks in their Holmes County home.

Gaskey was accused of going to the couple’s home to steal prescription pills that he could then use to settle drug debts. In part, the appeal involved comments Gaskey made to investigators about the well-being of his girlfriend, Sarah Carroll, who he could hear crying in another room at the time of his interrogation.

“Gaskey waived his Miranda rights and voluntarily spoke to police,” said Tuesday’s ruling, written by appeals-court Judge Thomas Winokur and joined by Chief Judge Brad Thomas and Judge Susan Kelsey. “Gaskey’s overriding concern throughout the interrogation was Carroll’s well-being. At no point did Gaskey unequivocally invoke his right to silence or counsel. Furthermore, the interrogating officers did not misstate the law. Gaskey simply attempted to leverage his knowledge of the murders in order to see Carroll, and in the process confessed to the crime. As a result, Gaskey’s confession was neither coerced nor involuntary.”

The victims were ministry workers and were each shot in the head twice with a .22-caliber revolver. Gaskey, now 32, is an inmate at Apalachee Correctional Institution.

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