ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Tempers flared on Tuesday as the man convicted of killing a 19-year-old Ocoee home invasion witness was back in Orange County courtroom for a sentencing hearing.
Attorneys for Bessman Okafor were trying to fight his death sentence, while family and friends of murder victim Alex Zaldivar spoke out to enforce it.
A jury voted 11-1 in favor of the death penalty for the shooting death of Zaldivar.
Zaldivar's father, Rafael Zaldivar, passed Okafor in court and said "You're dead," and the convicted killer started cursing at him.
Zaldivar was supposed to testify in a home invasion trial in which Okafor was accused.
But Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court scrutinized Florida’s death penalty law, the only one in the country that does not require a jury’s unanimous vote.
Channel 9’s Kathi Belich was at Okafor’s hearing Tuesday.
The Supreme Court’s decision could impact whether Okafor is executed.
If the country’s highest court determines that Florida should require a unanimous vote for the death penalty, as every other state does, all death sentences that fall short of that would be converted to life sentences.
Okafor was in court to try to convince the judge to bypass the jury’s 11-1 vote, and instead send him to prison for life.
In Washington D.C., the U.S. Supreme Court considered a Pensacola death penalty case after a jury’s 7-5 vote.
Timothy Hurst, who was convicted of murdering his manager at Popeye’s, argued Florida’s law was unconstitutional because it does not require a unanimous recommendation from juries and because judges have the final say.