Florida asks court to deny inmate's execution-delay request

AP News
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Posted: Jan 14, 2016 1:09 PM

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Florida asked the state's high court on Thursday to reject a condemned inmate's request to delay his execution based on the U.S. Supreme Court's finding that its procedure for imposing the death penalty is illegal.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi's office said the U.S. Supreme Court's finding should not be applied retroactively to already-settled death penalty cases.

Ruling on the Hurst v. Florida case Tuesday, the nation's highest court ruled 8-1 that Florida's procedure is flawed because it allows judges, not juries, to decide death sentences.

Michael Lambrix is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on Feb. 11, and there are questions about how the Supreme Court's ruling will affect his case and those of Florida's 390 death row inmates. Lambrix was sentenced to death for the 1983 slayings of two people he met at a bar. Prosecutors said he killed them after inviting them home for a spaghetti dinner.

Attorneys for Lambrix cited the ruling in their request for a new sentencing hearing.

"The potential retroactivity of Hurst ... to Mr. Lambrix's ... case and potentially to many, many other cases ... is an issue that demands ... an oral argument before this Court," Lambrix's attorney William Hennis wrote.

In its reply, Bondi's office cited a previous U.S. Supreme Court ruling on a similar Arizona case to bolster its argument that the court's decisions cannot be applied retroactively to condemned inmates who have already exhausted their appeals.

"Lambrix's request for a stay should be denied," Bondi's office wrote. "It is time for Lambrix's sentence for these brutal murders to be carried out."

It wasn't clear when the court would rule.