Florida is one of just a few states that does not require a unanimous jury recommendation for death sentences. The state Supreme Court has warned lawmakers some death sentences could be in jeopardy if the unanimous decision isn’t required.
But the state House appears reluctant to do anything.
Cecilia McAdams vividly remembers watching her husband die.
“I carry the vision of my husband lying dead on our kitchen floor with brain matter coming out.”
The Pensacola woman went to Tallahassee to tell lawmakers not to change Florida’s death penalty.
Right now, a majority of the jury can recommend death. The state Supreme Court wants lawmakers to require recommendations to be unanimous. The man who killed McAdams’ husband was sent to death row by an 8 to 4 vote.
“The end result is my husband is dead, and he pulled the trigger. They came into our home.”
But Public Defenders like Bob Dillinger of Tampa say if the law isn’t changed, Florida’s death sentences are likely to be in violation of changing U.S. Supreme Court rulings.
“When you are inviting chaos is when someone warns you there could be a problem here and says please fix it, and you don’t.”
The House committee quit Wednesday without taking any action. State senators are still debating what to do.
With the House and Senate at odds on making changes to the death penalty, the final decision on jury recommendations will likely be made by the people who started the discussion, the judges of the Florida Supreme Court.
The court could have a chance to make its wishes more clear later this month. There is a pending death warrant for Arthur Rutherford. He was sent to death row by a 7 to 5 jury vote, and the vote is expected to be an issue of his appeals.