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In the Bible Belt, Christmas Isn’t Coming to Death Row

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When it comes to the death penalty, guilt or innocence shouldn’t really matter to Christians.  

NASHVILLE — Until August, Tennessee had not put a prisoner to death in nearly a decade. Last Thursday, it performed its third execution in four months.
This was not a surprising turn of events. In each case, recourse to the courts had been exhausted. In each case Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, declined to intervene, though there were many r…

Florida Supreme Court rejects death row appeals

Florida's death chamber
The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday rejected appeals by 2 death row inmates who were convicted of murdering women in the 1990s in Santa Rosa and Hillsborough counties.

One of the appeals was filed by Norman Grim, who was sentenced to death in the 1998 murder of Cynthia Campbell, whose body was found by a fisherman floating off the Pensacola Bay Bridge, according to a brief by Attorney General Pam Bondi's office. The victim, who was wrapped in a sheet, a shower curtain and masking tape, had been beaten in the face and suffered multiple stab wounds to the chest.

The other appeal was filed by Samuel Smithers, who was convicted in the 1996 murders of Cristy Cowan and Denise Roach. The bodies of the women were found in a Hillsborough County pond, with a 2002 Supreme Court summary of the case saying both women had been strangled and suffered other injuries, including "chop" wounds to Cowan's head.

The appeals dealt with issues related to a 2016 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a case known as Hurst v. Florida and a subsequent Florida Supreme Court decision. 

The 2016 U.S. Supreme Court ruling found Florida's death-penalty sentencing system was unconstitutional because it gave too much authority to judges, instead of juries.

The subsequent Florida Supreme Court ruling said juries must unanimously agree on critical findings before judges can impose death sentences and must unanimously recommend the death penalty. 

Juries unanimously recommended death sentences for Grim and Smithers.

But the appeals decided Thursday involved questions about the other findings needed to sentence defendants to death.

Chief Justice Jorge Labarga and justices R. Fred Lewis, Alan Lawson, Charles Canady and Ricky Polston agreed to reject both appeals. 

Justice Barbara Pariente supported rejecting the appeal in the Smithers case but dissented in the Grim case. Justice Peggy Quince dissented in both cases.

Source: floridapolitics.com, March 29, 2018


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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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