Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation on Thursday that will allow juries to sentence an inmate to death without a unanimous vote, a change that was spurred by the life sentence for Parkland school shooter Nicholas Cruz last year.
“Once a defendant in a capital case is found guilty by a unanimous jury, one juror should not be able to veto a capital sentence,” DeSantis said in a statement on Thursday. “I’m proud to sign legislation that will prevent families from having to endure what the Parkland families have and ensure proper justice will be served in the state of Florida.”
The legislation, which passed the senate on a 29-10 vote and the house on an 80-30 vote, will allow juries to sentence an inmate to death as long as at least eight are in favor of execution. Florida previously required all 12 jurors to agree to the death penalty.
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DeSantis, lawmakers, and family members of victims of the Parkland school shooting were outraged after Cruz, who murdered 17 people, was spared the death penalty by a divided jury last year.
“Florida will no longer allow a small handful of activist jurors to derail the full administration of justice when individuals are found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and meet the qualifications for the death penalty,” Florida state Rep. Rep. Berny Jacques, the Republican sponsor of the bill, tweeted on Thursday. “Special thanks to the Parkland families who stepped up to help make this happen.”
Hunter Pollack, whose sister, Meadow, was killed in the shooting, thanked the Florida lawmakers for implementing the change.
“While we cannot go back and change the past, we can ensure that no community will ever have to endure the injustice and pain that we did when the Parkland shooter did not receive the death penalty,” Pollack said in a statement on Thursday.
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Florida has put two death row inmates to death so far this year, most recently executing Louis Gaskin earlier this month, a convict known as the “Ninja Killer” who murdered a married couple in 1989.
Florida currently has 297 other prisoners on death row.