A Look at the Death Penalty

Just last week, the family of murder victim Fred Parker urged the judge to spare the life of the man who stabbed him 11 times

The widow of slain Tallahassee police OFC Dale Green asked for just the opposite. Both killers were sentenced to life in prison, but some say that's no surprise. Leon County hasn't sent someone to death row in 13 years.

Steve Fey, FSU Law School professor, says, “Public defender Nancy Daniels says jurors do seem to have more reservations about the death penalty than they used to, and are rightfully reserving it for the most heinous crimes.”

But State Attorney Willie Meggs blames new and broader court rules for the decline in death sentences. Those allow defense attorneys to tell the jury more about the accused killer, their childhood, their families, and Meggs says that is allowing sympathy to reign in the jury box.

Recent Gallup polls show that public support for the death penalty has dropped 14 percent in the past 10 years to 66 percent and when life in prison without parole is an option. Support for the death penalty declines further to 50 percent.