State Lawmakers Moving To End Unanimous Jury Recommendations for Death

Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz was sentenced to life in prison last year when a jury failed to reach a unanimous decision to rcommend death. Some state lawmakers in Tallahassee want to make sure that can't happen again. A bill that would lower the threshold to sentence a defendant to death from 12 jurors to 8 has been passed by the state House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee.

A similar bill is working its way through the state Senate. A law passed in 2017 required unanimous jury recommendations.

"We have real families who are suffering because of a system that doesn't allow the full administration of justice going forward," sponsor Rep. Berny Jacques said.

Opponent Rep. LaVon Bracy Davis says many Death Row inmates have been exonerated and the requirement for a unanimous jury-recommendation should stay in place.

"Death is final. There are no do-overs."

Juries would still have to be unanimous in finding defendants guilty before sentencing could begin. The change would only affect the sentencing phase of trials.

Governor Ron DeSantis this week signed a death warrant for Louis Gaskin, who was convicted of murdering a couple in Flagler County in 1989.

Image courtesy Getty

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