Florida's Death Penalty Laws Deemed Unconstitutional

Florida's particular method of sentencing prisoners to death has been deemed unconstitutional by Miami U.S. District Judge Jose Martinez today. The decision will not immediately strike down the law and didn't find the death penalty in and of itself unconstitutional. Though, it will guarantee convicted murderer Paul H. Evans will receive a new sentencing trial.

According to the AP, Martinez ruled the law unconstitutional because "jurors are not required to announce specific findings on aggravating factors required to justify the death penalty."

Jurors in Florida are only asked to vote on whether a convict deserves the death penalty by a simple majority vote, and only announce the finding. Though, the judge gets the final say in sentencing.

Martinez's ruling cited a 2002 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that jurors must disclose aggravating factors.

It's up to Attorney General Pam Bondi's office to appeal the decision.

Evans was previously convicted for the 1991 murder of  Alan Pfeiffer after he was hired by Pfeiffer's wife.

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Kyle Munzenrieder