Florida Supreme Court: At least 200 inmates given unconstitutional death sentences

State to allow some death row inmates to avoid executions


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – In accordance to a January U.S. Supreme Court ruling finding the death penalty unconstitutional, the Florida Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that at least 200 inmates on death row were entitled to relief.

By requiring a jury's unanimous vote on a death sentencing case, the ruling in the case of Mark Asay shifts the responsibility of justifying a death sentence on juries and not judges. 

According to the 6-1 ruling on Thursday, inmates whose appeals were not final in 2002 are allowed to have a re-sentencing hearing. Inmates who were sentenced before 2002 will not be allowed to have a re-sentencing hearing.

After the Supreme Court case, Timothy Lee Hurst vs. Florida, the Legislature was forced to re-write death sentencing laws. Hurst was convicted of killing Cynthia Harrison in Pensacola in 1998. Detectives said he used a box cutter to stab her and left her bound and gagged inside a freezer. 

The Department of Corrections scheduled Asay's death for March 17, 2016, but the Florida Supreme Court halted the execution. Asay, who is imprisoned in Duval County, is a white supremacist who was convicted of killing Robert Lee Booker and Robert McDowell in 1988. The death sentence mandate was issued July 22, 1991. 

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