Mixed Feelings Over Unanimous Death Decision Debate

By: Mike Vasilinda
By: Mike Vasilinda

Cecilia McAdams vividly remembers watching her husband die.

Cecilia says, "I carry the vision of my husband lying dead on our kitchen floor with brain matter coming out."

The Pensacola woman came to tell lawmakers not to change Florida’s death penalty.

Right now, a majority of the jury can recommend death. The state Supreme Court wants lawmakers to require recommendations to be unanimous. The man who killed McAdams' husband was sent to death row by an 8 to 4 vote.

Cecilia adds, "The end result is my husband is dead, and he pulled the trigger. They came into our home."

But public defenders say if the law isn’t changed, Florida’s death sentences are likely to be in violation of changing U.S. Supreme Court rulings.

Bob Dillinger, Pinellas County Public Defender, says, "When you are inviting chaos is when someone warns you there could be a problem here and says please fix it, and you don’t."

The House committee quit without taking any action. State senators are still debating what to do.

With the House and Senate at odds on making changes to the death penalty, the final decision on jury recommendations will likely be made by the people who started the discussion, the judges of the Florida Supreme Court.

The court could have a chance to make its wishes more clear later this month. There is a pending death warrant for Arthur Rutherford. He was sent to death row by a 7 to 5 jury vote, and the vote is expected to be an issue of his appeals.


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