Jury recommends death for Patrick McDowell, man who killed Nassau deputy in 2021

A jury has recommended the death penalty for a man who killed a Nassau County deputy during a 2021 traffic stop.

Patrick McDowell had already pleaded guilty to killing Nassau County Deputy Joshua Moyers, and seven days of testimony took place in the penalty phase.


McDowell told the jury Thursday before closing arguments in his penalty phase that he does not deserve to live.

In court, McDowell’s defense team advised him against talking. The judge swore him in and then questioned him intensely, asking if he wanted to do this and if he understood the impact of his letter.

Here is an excerpt of what he said on the stand:

“I killed a hero of a deputy who was doing his job.”

“For that I shot him and I left him there to die.”

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“I do not deserve to live.”

“This is a plea for justice for Deputy Moyers and his family.”

The state wrapped its closing arguments just before noon Thursday. The defense began its closing arguments at 1:15 p.m. and the jury received the case to deliberate at 3:32 p.m.

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With the new Florida law, only 8 out of the 12 jurors need to agree to recommend the death penalty. Eleven of the 12 jurors recommended the death penalty for McDowell.

During the penalty phase hearing, McDowell himself testified, along with his family and friends, as well as a fellow Marine and psychologists.

A big theme of the defense’s argument has been McDowell’s extensive mental health history. His family said he was a good kid who didn’t drink or do drugs.

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However, several witnesses said that after he returned from deployment in Iraq as a Marine, they said McDowell developed PTSD and eventually began using drugs.

McDowell’s defense team argued that his PTSD was a significant factor the night he shot and killed Deputy Moyers, but the state’s rebuttal witness disagreed.

“I didn’t feel there was anything in that particular situation, even when the deputy reaches out and touches the door handle or the door jab, that would’ve particularly triggered PTSD responses in Mr. McDowell,” Dr. John Mundt, a clinical psychologist, argued.

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McDowell shot Moyers in September 2021. After a 5 day search, he was found hiding in a bathroom at a concession stand at a sports complex off Ballpark Road in Callahan.

Then in March 2023, McDowell changed his plea to guilty and admitted to killing Moyers.

A judge pushed his sentencing date back to this year to give the Florida Supreme Court time to rule on Gov. Ron DeSantis’ new death penalty law, which only requires 8 of 12 jurors to recommend a death sentence instead of the unanimous 12.

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