On January 22, 2016 Pinellas Circuit Judge Michael Andrews struck the State Attorney’s office intent of seeking the death penalty in the case of Steven Cecil Dykes. Judge Michael Andrews Order Striking State’s Intent to Seek Death. The State Attorney’s office then filed a motion to reconsider Judge Andrews’ ruling. Yesterday, the Miami Herald reported:
“In Pinellas, Circuit Judge Michael Andrews ruled last month that the state could not seek the death penalty in the case of Steven Cecil Dykes, a Pinellas Park father accused of killing his infant daughter. Andrews reasoned at the time: “There currently exists no death penalty in the state of Florida in that there is no procedure in place.”
However, Judge Andrews did not do a full 180 on his initial ruling. Judge Andrews’s subsequent order rescinding in part, rescinds in striking the State’s intent on seeking death BUT the court will not death qualify the jury at the start of the jury trial (2/29/2016) unless Florida’s legislature fixes its death penalty sentencing scheme held unconstitutional by SCOTUS in Hurst v. State of Florida. Defense attorneys threw a monkey wrench into the criminal justice machine by demanding speedy trial. Judge Michael Andrews’ order reads:
“the court will not attempt to death qualify the jury in this cause unless there is a procedure in place prior to the start of the trial” Judge Michael Andrews Order Rescinding In Part
Here are the current legislative death sentence bills currently being considered. Senate Bills (require unanimity in jury death recommendation) SB 7068 and SB 330. House Bills, HB 157 (requires unanimity in jury death recommendation) and HB 7101 (requires at least 10 jurors recommending death out of 12)
According to the Miami Herald article, Rep. Charles McBurney, a Jacksonville Republican, brokered the current HB 7101 compromise of 10/2.
Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg is quoted in the article citing Florida as leading the nation in 26 cases in which defendants sentenced to death were later exonerated. Polk’s Public Defender, Rex Dimmig is also referenced in the article stating that to require unanimity in the guilt phase but not in the penalty phase is “illogical.” “Lawmakers strike political compromise to fix Florida’s death penalty law” by Steve Bousquet
Should a death recommendation by a Florida jury be unanimous or by a 10/2 split? Florida You Judge!