Judge: Florida has 'no death penalty'

- A Pinellas County Judge made a ruling that could set a trend in cases where the death penalty could be considered. 

Judge Michael Andrews rejected prosecutors' notice they plan to seek the death penalty against
defendant Steven Dykes, who is accused of killing his 3-month-old daughter.

The judge wrote, "this court concludes that there currently exists no death penalty in the state of Florida, in that there is no procedure in place."

He was referring to a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, saying the way Florida handles death penalty sentences is unconstitutional.

Attorney Anthony Rickman says until legislators change the law, other judges will face the same dilemma. 

"I have a feeling that other judges will follow suit because its the right thing to do," Rickman said.

The way it works now, juries recommend life or death, but a judge makes the ultimate decision.

The nation's high court says the method is a violation of the Sixth Amendment. Only juries should be allowed to make the decision.

Rickman said, "it's not the prosecutor's fault. It's not the defense's fault. It's the law as it stands right now and the law is in flux. It's in limbo." 

For now, judges will have to weigh life-and-death decisions with the knowledge a ruling could be overturned when the law is changed in the state of Florida. 

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