Accused murderers may avoid death penalty

- Marisol Best told police she prayed with her husband's parents -  and then shot them to death.

Back in November 2015, Best said she was angry at Virgil and Shirley Best for criticizing her husband for a sex charge he was facing in Polk County.  She told detectives she grabbed a gun and thought, "It's either them or me."

Police reports show, Marisol then joined her in-laws for a prayer session in the living room before shooting them.

Prosecutors consider the crime so heinous and depraved, they are seeking the death penalty, but the Hillsborough Public Defenders Office says state and federal Supreme Court rulings take the death penalty off the table.

Legal expert Anthony Rickman reviewed the motion and says the mounting chaos over Florida's death penalty law could work in Best's favor.

"Anyone sentenced to death could be spared the death penalty," said Rickman.

Several rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court and the Florida Supreme Court have left the death penalty in limbo since 2016. Lawmakers are expected to fix the law this year, but until then, there is technically no death penalty in Florida.

That could also help Nicole Nachtman, who's accused of killing her mom and step dad last August. Rickman says her lawyers' case against death is strong because the murders happened seven months after the death penalty was struck down.

"You cant apply a law that didn't exist then, to a case that happened then," said Rickman. "At the time these offense were committed, the law, the death penalty law, was unlawful, was illegal and the Public Defenders Office is arguing you can't sentence these people to death."

No matter what, the judge decides in each of these cases, Rickman says they will probably end up in our State Supreme Court.

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