Justices to review how Florida imposes death sentences

AP News
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Posted: Mar 09, 2015 10:57 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has agreed to review a death sentence imposed by a judge on a Florida inmate though the jury had been divided on punishment.

The justices said Monday they will hear an appeal from inmate Timothy Lee Hurst, who was convicted of killing his manager at a Popeye's restaurant in Pensacola and leaving her body in a freezer.

A jury had divided 7-5, in favor of the death sentence. The case also involves whether the jury should have considered evidence of Hurst's intellectual capacity when deciding on his sentence.

Florida is among only a few states in which judges retain significant sentencing power in capital cases, including overriding juries' sentencing decisions.

Since 2002, a series of high court rulings have limited judges' discretion in sentencing.

The case, Hurst v. Florida, 14-7505, will be argued in the fall.