TALLAHASSEE (Fla.) (AP)... Florida will no longer require a unanimous recommendation from a jury before an execution, under a new bill approved by the Legislature on Thursday. This is a response to the life-sentence given to the man responsible for the massacre of 17 people in a Parkland High School.
The House approved the bill by a vote of 80-30. The bill now heads to the Republican Governor. Ron DeSantis will give the final approval. The death penalty will be allowed if the jury recommends it by a majority of 8-4. DeSantis is in favor of the proposal.
The bill was introduced after outrage at a jury that split 9-3 and spared Nikolas Cruz the death penalty for the 2018 shooting massacre. Instead, he received a sentence of life without parole.
Only three of the 27 states that have the death penalty don't require unanimous consent. Alabama allows for a 10-2-2 decision and Missouri and Indiana allow a judge to decide if there is a divided juror.
Florida executed two murderers convicted of crimes this year. One was executed on Wednesday. Another execution is planned in three weeks. DeSantis had not overseen an execution in 2019 before signing three death warrants for this year. He is likely to run for president.
If there are no stays, this will be the shortest time since 2014 that three executions were carried out in Florida under the former Governor. Rick Scott is also a Republican.
Florida has not required unanimous approval of capital punishment for decades. Florida allowed judges to impose capital penalty as long as the majority of jurors voted in favor. In 2016, however, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned state law because it gave judges too much discretion.
In 2017, the lawmakers passed a law requiring unanimous jury recommendations. The Supreme Court of California had previously said that such recommendations must be 10-2.
Three years later the state Supreme Court, now with conservative jurists that DeSantis has appointed, reversed their earlier decision. They ruled a unanimous death recommendation is not required. Florida's unanimity requirement has been unchanged until now.