Johnny Ray Holt, who fatally shot a 63-year-old Key West man in the face in 2006, stole the victim's car and used his credit cards for phone sex, has lost an appeal to have his murder conviction overturned.
The 3rd District Court of Appeal affirmed Holt's Sept. 23, 2010, conviction without comment on Wednesday. Holt is serving multiple life sentences at the Gulf Correctional Institution in Wewahitchka.
Circuit Judge David Audlin sentenced Holt to three life terms -- with no chance of parole -- after jurors returned guilty verdicts for first-degree murder, armed robbery and burglary with a firearm.
Audlin did not mince words when sentencing Holt, saying he had no hesitation in ordering the murderer to prison. The judge described shooting victim Rodger Keller, 63, as a good man who went out of his way to help others in the community, including Holt, and was rewarded by being shot in cold blood, said Chief Assistant State Attorney Manny Madruga.
"I know Judge Audlin weighed all the respective arguments of all the parties and ensured the decision was just and fair and according to the law," said Madruga. "I'm not surprised by the decision at all. I had every confidence the conviction would stand."
Holt broke into Keller's house at the corner of Fourth Street and Flagler Avenue on March 20, 2006, while Keller was not at home. When Keller returned, Holt shot him in the face with a .44-caliber revolver he had stolen from his girlfriend's father, according to testimony.
Holt then stole Keller's car and credit cards. He dumped the car a few blocks away and drove a stolen truck to Georgia, stopping along the way to use Keller's credit card for gas and phone-sex calls, according to testimony.
He was arrested in Georgia and extradited to Key West.
A jury deliberated for two hours before finding Holt guilty on all charges.
Holt is serving the life terms concurrently, but with no possibility of parole. Audlin also ordered him to pay the maximum fine of $15,000.
Keller was an avid gardener and member of the Key West Garden Club. Club members told jurors Keller was a nonconfrontational man who had an encyclopedic knowledge of plants, particularly orchids.
About two years after the conviction, the Discovery Channel featured the murder in its "Sins & Secrets" show.