Juries in Florida need not vote unanimously to recommend the death penalty in capital cases under legislation signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis last month.
SB 450 revamps Florida’s death penalty statutes and reduces the number of jury members needed to call for the death penalty from a unanimous vote to eight out of twelve.
State Sen. Blaise Ingoglia (R-Spring Hill) sponsored the legislation.
“The victims of the most-evil crimes and their families deserve to see criminals punished to the full extent of the law,” Ingoglia said. “One rogue juror should not be the sole arbiter of justice.”
DeSantis signed the measure on April 20, flanked by families whose children were victims in the shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in February 2018.
In that case, Nicholas Cruz pleaded guilty to the shooting in which 17 people died and 17 more were injured and could have been sentenced to life in prison or death.
At the time, Florida law required that jurors vote unanimously to recommend the death penalty. In October 2022, the jury sentenced him to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole by a vote of 9-3.
Cruz is serving 34 consecutive life sentences – one each for the total number of people killed or injured in the shooting.
SB 450 became effective when DeSantis signed it.