The state of Florida’s death sentence policy is quite different than any other state’s version. Florida is the only state that gives the jury the power to recommend the death penalty or life in prison, which is decided by a majority vote. The judge can consider the recommendation, but ultimately does not have to agree with the results of the jury vote.
On Tuesday, the State Attorney’s Office announced its plan to seek the death penalty in an Ocala, Florida case involving a 31-year-old man accused of murdering two children and two women, one of whom was the mother of his 2-year-old son.
The man, currently a high security inmate at the Marion County Jail, was arrested on Aug. 5 and charged with five counts of first-degree murder and arson of a dwelling.
The four individuals were found shot to death inside a home that was allegedly set on fire. The children, 6 and 8, were found in a back bedroom, the women, 27 and 52, were found near the front door.
The 27-year-old woman was supposedly dating the man accused of the quadruple murder. She allegedly arrived at the home on Aug. 5 with her three children in a white Jeep, when she supposedly went inside the house and left the children in the car.
One child told detectives that there was a loud bang, followed by the woman’s collapse. She was supposedly dragged inside the home and the door was closed. A short time later, flames erupted from the house.
The children remained in the Jeep until neighbors got them out.
The man was indicted by a grand jury at the end of August.
When a person is charged with a capital crime in the state of Florida, a grand jury will determine whether or not the case moves forward to trial. The Florida Supreme Court defines a grand jury as “an investigating, reporting, and accusing agency of the Florida Circuit Court.” During a grand jury trial it is determined whether or not there is probable cause to believe the accused has committed a capital crime.
Currently, Florida has several capital crimes, including:
If a grand jury decides that there is enough evidence against a person accused of a capital crime to proceed to formal trial, then that person will progress to a Florida circuit court where a separate jury will establish if the person is actually guilty of the crime charged. Someone convicted of a capital crime in Florida faces the possibility of life in prison or the death penalty.