Florida's death penalty sentencing unconstitutional, again

Gloria Gomez reports

- The state supreme court ruled Friday, the new way a death sentence is handed down - as decided by Florida lawmakers - is unconstitutional.

FOX 13 legal analyst and attorney Anthony Rickman reviewed the 89-page decision by the state's high court.

"The court said, ultimately, that in order to sentence someone to death, the decision of a jury must be unanimous, meaning every single juror must decide this person is eligible and should be sentenced to death," said Rickman. "As it stands right now, Florida is in limbo once again."

The state's death penalty has been in a tail spin since it was challenged by death row inmate Timothy Hurst, whose case made it all the way to  U.S. Supreme Court. In January, SCOTUS justices agreed with Hurst and ruled Florida's death penalty procedures were unconstitutional because they gave the ultimate decision of life or death to a judge, and not a jury.

Hurst's case was sent back to the justices in Florida, who ruled inmate Timothy Hurst will be re-sentenced.

Meanwhile, Florida lawmakers scrambled to fix Florida's procedures, but the new rules they devised did not require a jury's decision to be unanimous. Now, this latest ruling means legislators will have to go back to the drawing board. 

So what does it mean for other death row inmates, like cop killer Dontae Morris?

Rickman says expect morris to ask for a do-over on his sentence.

"I would argue, just as Hurst was afforded a new death penalty proceeding, everyone sentenced under this unconstitutional scheme is now eligible for a new death penalty proceeding," explained Rickman.

It's not yet clear if those on death row will automatically be re-sentenced or if they would have to apply for a re-sentencing. 

 App Store Get it on Google Play

  • Popular

  • Recent

Stories You May Be Interested In – includes Advertiser Stories