TAMPA (FOX 13) - They say the most cruel and heinous killers deserve the death penalty. And that's what a jury handed down for inmate Tavares Calloway after deciding he killed five people back in 1997.
"He then tied up, bound and gagged the victims in the case then shot them execution-style," explained attorney Anthony Rickman. "Very calculated, cold type of murder case."
But the Supreme Court just gave this killer a new lease on life. Because the jury's decision to give him a death sentence wasn't unanimous, the court has ruled, he gets a do-over.
"The Supreme Court has said you get another chance and you get another chance at that penalty phase only," continued Rickman.
The deck may be stacked against prosecutors because how old the case is.
"Bringing witnesses that may no longer be alive, may no longer be around, may not have good memories of what happened, the prosecutor may most likely rely on transcript evidence," Rickman said. "But that is not as impactful to a juror then getting the witness get on the witness stand."
Last October, our state Supreme Court ruled a jury must be unanimous to give a death sentence -- which is not the current law. Legislators had a chance to get it right the first time after the U.S. Supreme Court said a jury, not a judge, should make the final call on a death sentence.
Lawmakers scrambled to fix that part but did not require a jury's vote to be unanimous. So here we are a death penalty in limbo, with all death cases on hold while lawmakers appear to be in no rush to fix the law.