Jacksonville man facing death penalty chooses to plead guilty to second-degree murder

A Jacksonville man is no longer at risk for the death penalty, but does still face up to life in prison after pleading guilty to a lesser charge of second-degree murder in a 2011 double murder. Tyreyon Washington pleaded guilty last week to two counts of second-degree murder and two counts of kidnapping, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The state had been seeking the death penalty against him but cannot any longer, because it is only applicable to first-degree murder cases. In return, Washington agreed to testify against his two co-defendants, the newspaper reported. Both other men, Harochio Varnadore and Emanuel Pressley, are still charged with first-degree murder. The state is seeking death for both men in this Jacksonville Murder Case, the newspaper reported.

This Jacksonville Murder Case is yet another example of the prosecutors using the death penalty as a bargaining chip in a murder case, quite frankly not the intention of the death penalty. Either the case is a death penalty case or it’s not. But more and more in Jacksonville Murder Cases, the charge starts out at first-degree murder with the death penalty on the table and results in a deal with the state to plead to second-degree murder, where the judge can impose a sentence anywhere between 25 years and life. In this Jacksonville Murder Case, the state now has a star witness who is testifying against the two other men involved in the case. The three are accused of kidnapping a newlywed couple from their home following a drug-related argument, the newspaper reported. The two bodies were found days later in the nearby woods, the newspaper reported.

The plea for Washington could mean he was the least culpable in this Jacksonville Murder Case, so the state was willing to work with him. Or it could mean he was the first one to take a deal. Washington is 21 and the other two men are 25 and 30, so the state could have seen Washington as the one most likely to talk. When someone is facing the death penalty, it often doesn’t take too much to get them to cooperate – another reason it should not be used as a bargain chip for the state. In most instances, the sentencing for Washington in this Jacksonville Murder Case will be delayed until the cases of the other two co-defendants are resolved. The state makes a recommendation to the judge, which is typically based on how helpful the defendant is in his testimony. The state cannot put the death penalty back on the table, but it could still recommend life – regardless of how much he helps in this Jacksonville Murder Case.

If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our Duval County Violent Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.