Fla. Death Penalty Ruling: Affect Casey Anthony?

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on June 24, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

What effect will the recent ruling on the Florida death penalty have on Casey Anthony's potential sentence? For Casey Anthony, a death sentence is a real possibility if she is found guilty of first-degree murder, as prosecutors have been pursuing capital punishment.

Anthony is currently standing trial for the murder of her daughter, Caylee Anthony, who was two years old at the time.

Now, a Florida judge has ruled that the Florida death penalty procedure is unconstitutional. Though, the impact on Anthony's case may be minimal at best.

U.S. District Judge Jose Martinez issued the ruling after finding the current death penalty statutes did not give defendants the right amount of due process. Judge Martinez came to this conclusion by finding that the judge, not the jury, was the one who made the ultimate decision about capital punishment, reports MSNBC.

A 2002 Supreme Court ruling had found that a jury, not a judge, must be the ones to find the factors who can increase a sentence. In the Florida system, the jury makes recommendations of either a life sentence or a death sentence, but does not need to come to a conclusion as to which aggravating factors apply, nor do they need to specify which factors were the ones they relied on in coming to their conclusion, according to MSNBC.

The ruling came down after an appeal by a convicted murderer Paul H. Evans. Evans was found guilty in 1991 of killing Alan Pfeiffer, and was sentenced to death after a 9-3 jury vote in 1999. Judge Martinez ruled that Evans must be given a new sentencing hearing.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi plans to appeal the ruling. But, with Anthony's trial - a highly-publicized capital punishment case - will this decision affect her sentencing?

Bondi's spokeswoman has said that it probably wouldn't, as the case is still up for appeal, reports the Broward-Palm Beach New Times.

So while the unconstitutionality of the Florida death penalty and Casey Anthony's trial may not be as entwined as one would think at the current moment, most likely attorneys for Casey Anthony's death sentence hearing or appeals (if it comes down to that) will cite to the case at the very least.

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