Some of the nearly 400 prisoners waiting on Florida’s Death Row will not be allowed a re-sentencing under new death penalty laws, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday.
The 6-1 ruling in a death sentence appeal by Mark James Asay says that Death Row inmates are not entitled to a re-sentencing unless their case was finalized after the 2002 ruling in Ring vs. Arizona, which required juries to find aggravating factors to impose the death penalty.
The court also lifted a stay on Asay’s execution, previously scheduled for March of this year. It appears executions could commence soon.
Florida’s death penalty has been under siege for the last year. In January, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the state’s death penalty scheme unconstitutional in Hurst vs. Florida, prompting the Legislature to re-write sentencing laws. Then, in October, the Florida Supreme Court found that the Hurst ruling required a unanimous vote by the jury to sentence someone to death, rather than a majority or supermajority required under old and existing laws.
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It was not clear until Thursday’s ruling whether these changes entitled people already on Death Row to a re-sentencing hearing.