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Death Sentence Overturned For Carlie Brucia Killer

Jul 19, 2017

It's happening again, and may happen more and more.  A death sentence has been overturned in Florida, because the sentence was imposed under a state law that is now unconstitutional. 

 This particular death sentence may resonate a little more. That's because Joseph Smith's abduction of 11-year-old Carlie Brucia in Sarasota in 2004 was caught on video. 

 Smith was convicted of Carlie's murder and he was sentenced to death by a jury vote of 10-2. Smith will get a new sentencing hearing. 

 Stetson Law Professor Charlie Rose said if we had had a valid death penalty statute at the time, this would not be an issue now. 

"We would have had justice, whatever that justice would have wound up being, and we would be moving on.  But that refusal that the U.S. Supreme Court has said we have to adopt, that's at the root of the problem," he said.

 Last year, the Supreme Court ruled Florida's death penalty law unconstitutional because it didn't require a unanimous jury for a death sentence. Lawmakers have since amended the law to require such juries to impose a death sentence. But there are hundreds of cases where people were sent to Florida's death row  by divided juries. Those cases are now in limbo.