Man avoids death penalty, sentenced to life in prison for murder conviction

A Jacksonville man convicted of killing a firefighter’s wife will spend the rest of his life in prison.  The man was facing the possibility of the death penalty, but the judge issued the life sentence last week, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The man was convicted in April of first-degree murder, rape and armed robbery, the newspaper reported. Days after the conviction, the jury reconvened to address the issue of the death penalty.

In Jacksonville Murder Cases, and across Florida, there are only two possible sentences when someone is convicted of or pleads guilty to first-degree murder: life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death penalty. If the state is seeking the death penalty, once the trial is over the jury reviews the case and then makes a decision one way or the other on the sentence. Jurors vote individually and the results are then read in court for the judge. This is the most prominent circumstance where a jury does not have to be unanimous. To convict a person of a crime, or the completely exonerate a person, all of the jurors must be in agreement. If a jury cannot reach a unanimous decision, the judge declares the case a mistrial. From there, prosecutors must decide if they want to take the case to trial again, or continue negotiations with the defense.

But, at the death penalty phase in a Jacksonville Murder Case, jurors just take a vote and let the chips fall where they may. In this Jacksonville Murder Case, the jury recommended life in prison, not the death penalty. The judge chose to follow the jury’s recommended, which happens in virtually every Jacksonville Murder Case involving the death penalty.  A case that will head to the U.S. Supreme Court next year could require all states to have the jury make a unanimous decision on the death penalty before a person could be sentenced to death. Florida is one of only three states that only requires a majority vote from the jury to recommend the death penalty.  Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney represents people accused on any type of crime, from misdemeanors on up to murder charges. Our Jacksonville Violent Crimes Attorney knows the various sentencing laws and the minimum mandatory requirements, and can explain those to you or your loved one so you have a better understanding of what to expect and can make an informed decision going forward.

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 Jacksonville Violent Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.