Juries recommend death under new statute in two penalty phases.
Two penalty phases conducted under the new 8-4 statute have resulted in jury recommendations for death.
Two penalty phases have been conducted under the new 8-4 statute—one in a Hurst resentencing and one in a new trial. Both resulted in non-unanimous jury recommendations.
NOTE: The sentences have not yet been imposed. Under the new statute, the judge still has the discretion to impose a sentence of life in prison without parole. Sentencing has not occurred yet.
The post about Gov. DeSantis signing this new legislation can be found here. I covered the entire legislative history on this legislation, which can be found in the Tracking Florida’s Death Penalty Archive.
Michael James Jackson’s resentencing proceeding concluded this week. His resentencing proceeding was ordered after Hurst. His codefendants Alan Wade and Tiffany Cole were also granted resentencing proceedings after Hurst. Alan Wade’s resentencing occurred in 2022 under Florida’s unanimity statute, and Wade was resentenced to life without parole. Tiffany Cole’s resentencing is still pending.
The jury voted 8-4 to recommend death—the new minimum vote required to sentence someone to death in the State of Florida.
Joseph Zieler was sentenced under the new statute for a 1990 murder. A Lee County jury voted 10-2 for death. This was his first trial.
Zieler was charged in 2016—more than two decades after the crime—based on DNA evidence collected in another case. The trial finally proceeded this month after seven years.
Of course, under Florida’s 2022 statute (i.e., before April 20, 2023), both of these cases would’ve resulted in sentences of life in prison without parole because the jury did not vote unanimously to recommend a sentence of death.