Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed a bill ending the unanimous jury requirement for death penalty cases.
The legislation was prompted by outrage over three jurors opting to spare the life of Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz.
Cruz killed 17 people in the February 14, 2018, massacre. One of the jurors felt strongly that he should not be sentenced to death due to being mentally ill. Two other jurors believed that the mitigating evidence outweighed the aggravating evidence.
Under the new law, just eight of the twelve jurors must support sentencing someone to death.
A death sentence can still only be imposed if all jurors agree that there is at least one aggravating factor beyond a reasonable doubt proving guilt.
“Today, I signed legislation ensuring the victims of the most heinous crimes get justice,” DeSantis tweeted after signing the bill. “Once a defendant in a capital case is found guilty by a unanimous jury, one juror should not be able to veto a capital sentence.”
Today, I signed legislation ensuring the victims of the most heinous crimes get justice.
Once a defendant in a capital case is found guilty by a unanimous jury, one juror should not be able to veto a capital sentence. pic.twitter.com/77KeG6H3RN
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) April 20, 2023
If fewer than eight jurors recommend a death sentence, the court must impose a recommended sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole, according to the bill text.
DeSantis is widely believed to be running a shadow campaign for the presidency, without formally announcing his challenge to former President Donald Trump for the Republican nomination.
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