A measure permitting the death sentence with an 8-4 jury majority rather than needing a unanimous decision is anticipated to be signed by Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, Politico reported on Monday.
In a discussion with Simon Conway on WFLA’s “Good Morning Orlando” on Monday, DeSantis stated, “What happened regarding the Parkland case… You had a single juror that held out.”
DeSantis was replying to the host’s query on a measure that would modify the number of jurors necessary to endorse the death penalty and was on its way to his desk. Currently, a unanimous vote is necessary. SB 280 will require a 2/3 vote, or 8 to 4, in a 12-person jury, when DeSantis gives it his OK.
The bill would overturn a 2017 legislation that demanded unanimous verdicts in capital cases.
“I believe we are being fair. We’re following Florida law, as it was in the past. Our previous, leftist Supreme Court overturned that. The conservative Supreme Court of today rejected such standard. So what we’re really doing is going back to what Florida did in the past,” DeSantis added.
The governor of the Sunshine State continued by stating that he was against a single jury having the authority to set aside a death sentence. He particularly addressed the Parkland shooter’s case, as he has in the past.
DeSantis assumed office one year after the 2018 Parkland shooting, which claimed the lives of 17 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students and staff members.
Instead of referring to the bill’s impact as “lowering the threshold” for the implementation of the death penalty, he said it provided “protection against… nullification.”
He continued by saying that even though prosecutors are entitled to a “death-qualified jury,” meaning that each juror declares his or her willingness to vote to impose the death penalty in the appropriate circumstances, there is always a possibility that a juror will get through who has absolutely no intention of doing so in any situation.
He said that “some of the jury members bring an agenda to bear and were eager to serve in that capacity.”
“If you oppose the death penalty, I respect that. However, the best method to handle that is to attempt to amend the state’s laws through democratic means. It’s not to serve on a jury and to abolish the death penalty.”
“The only acceptable punishment in Parkland was the death penalty. The Parkland shooter will now spend the rest of his life behind bars. It might end up costing the taxpayers a lot over the next 60 or 70 years. And the family don’t truly receive justice in that case.”
DeSantis indicated his support for a different bill that would allow the death sentence for those found guilty of raping minors in addition to his remarks on the bill that would lower the bar for the death penalty.
“We have authorized the capital punishment for child rapists, which is cutting against most recent Supreme Court rule of law, but I believe we are right on the law and I believe that the present court would think about a challenge to that,” stated Governor DeSantis.
“In my opinion, some of these guys will repeatedly rape children between the ages of six and seven. In circumstances like that, the death sentence is the only sanctionable punishment, in my opinion.”