FLORIDA (USA): SUPREME COURT OVERTURNED THREE DEATH SENTENCES
January 19, 2017: The Florida Supreme Court overturned three death sentences, but upheld the death sentence for one other under its Dec. 22, 2016 decisions declaring that death sentences imposed in cases in which juries had not voted unanimously for death violated the state' and federal constitutions.
In cases in which three jurors had voted for life, the court granted new sentencing trials to Lancelot Armstrong (53, Black) and Donald Otis Williams (56, White).
It also granted a new penalty trial to William Kopsho (63, White), in whose case two jurors in 2009 had voted for life.
However, it upheld the death sentence imposed on Louis Gaskin (49, Black) after four of his jurors had voted for life, saying his sentence had already become final before 2002, when the U.S. Supreme Court had declared the constitutional right to have a jury decide all facts necessary to impose a death sentence.
Courts will empanel new juries to decide how to sentence each of these men, though they will not determine whether they are guilty, as their first-degree murder convictions have not been overturned.
By demanding new sentencing hearings in these cases, the court is putting into practice a Dec. 22 ruling that could lead to life sentences for some of the 200-plus death-row prisoners whose cases were finalized after a key U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June 2002. It's likely similar decisions will continue to trickle out of the court in the coming months. (Source: DPIC, 19/01/2017)