Also in 1974, a man in Florida, along with four accomplices was arrested for killing another young man. He was convicted of the murder in 1975 and sentenced to the death penalty. He was resentenced to death in 1979 and again in 1987. The Defendant was 27 years old at the time and the victim was 18 years old. The victim was tortured during the killing.
The Defendant has not been executed. There were issues with the accomplices and witnesses and the Supreme Court has determined that those issues were so egregious that they have determined that he get a new trial.
I have been hired to assist in the preparation of the new trial that will most likely be held in the spring of 2023. I won't mention his name as his trial is still pending and, although he is still in custody today, nobody knows what a new jury will do. I will say that one of the issues in the original trial was ineffective assistance of counsel as his attorney represented him and another conspirator in a Direct Appeal. Another issue was that a witness/co-defendant was offered a plea deal, which he took, in exchange for his testimony. The prosecutor failed to reveal all of the facts of that plea agreement. These issues were only two that has prolonged the death sentence from being carried out.
I am a realist. I don't know if any of the issues are enough to result in a different verdict in another trial. Being a realist, I also demand that before he or anyone else be sentenced to death, the State must prove their case beyond and to the exclusion of any reasonable doubt. So let's just think about it. What if? What if he is proven not guilty of this murder? Think about how this now 75 year old man has missed his entire life due to a wrongful conviction. Think about everything you, the reader, has accomplished in the past 48 years, if you were even born then. Think about all of the places you've traveled. Think about the weddings and the funerals you were able to attend. Can you imagine re-entering society after 48 years and seeing all of the changes? Hell, look at your cell phone. Remember the first cell phones, those big boxy ones? He doesn't. He was locked up when cell phones came out. Think about what you had for dinner last night. When was the last chance that this guy had a home-cooked meal? I can tell you. It was 1974. His parents have long passed and so many other family members. He missed all of those funerals and the weddings of family members who got married. Can you imagine not being able to go to funerals of your family members? I know I can't. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking "what about the victim and everything he's missed?" and I agree with you. His murder was horrible and unnecessary and it should have never happened. However, the person or persons responsible for the murder should be held accountable and the convictions need to come through a fair and impartial jury.
Now don't get me wrong. I'm not some "bleeding heart". He was convicted and he's been incarcerated. End of story, right? Maybe not. If he was convicted and it was not a fair trial, that's a problem. What if there is something to this and it is determined that he wasn't guilty? How do you say "I'm sorry" for taking 48 years of your life away? Will that happen? I don't know. We have to start all over because somebody screwed up over the past 48 years. What if it was you? What if you were innocent and have been wrongly convicted? What if you were innocent and the Government kills you because of an incorrect verdict or a wrongful verdict? Even the Government can't bring you back to life after they execute you.
In the new trial, if he is convicted, I do hope that he is given a sentence of life without parole. Understand that he is 75 years old and probably doesn't have much longer to live anyway. That's not the point of this post. The point of the post is that most people are on death row on average of 19.4 years before they are executed. Think about that. This guy would have been executed in 1994, long before he was given a new trial. Do you ever ask yourself how many inmates has your state wrongly executed? Maybe you should.