Florida Court: Death Penalty Requires Unanimous Jury

The Reverend Lisa Hunt, the rector of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, stands with the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty to protest the execution of Humberto Leal Thursday, July 7, 2011, outside St. Stephen's Episcopal Church & School in Houston.  ( Nick de la Torre / Houston Chronicle )
Nick de la Torre/Houston Chronicle

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The Florida Supreme Court has ruled that a death sentence requires a unanimous jury.

The court on Friday struck down a newly enacted law allowing a defendant to be sentenced to death as long as 10 out of 12 jurors recommend it. The decision immediately puts Florida’s death penalty sentencing law in limbo.

Meanwhile, in another important decision Friday, the court opened the door to inmates already on death row getting their sentences reduced.

Justices concluded that Timothy Lee Hurst — convicted of a 1998 murder at a Pensacola Popeye’s restaurant— deserves a new sentencing hearing.

In January, the U.S. Supreme Court declared Florida’s death penalty sentencing law unconstitutional. State legislators responded by overhauling the law.

As of Friday, there were 385 inmates on Florida’s death row.

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