BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - A new ruling from a court of appeals has put the death penalty back on the table for a Brevard County man accused of killing his neighbors.
William Woodward was scheduled for trial last month, but his attorneys successfully argued that the only appropriate sentence for a conviction would be life in prison.
Woodward is charged in the 2012 Labor Day shooting deaths of Gary Lee Hembree and Roger Picior and the attempted murder of Timothy Blake.
A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling struck down Florida’s procedure for imposing the death penalty, and Woodward’s attorneys argued that
, even if he was convicted, it wouldn’t justify the death penalty.
“What the judge did was, back at the time, he simply noted the fact that there was no death penalty in effect at the particular time we were going to trial,” Robert Berry, Woodward’s attorney, said.
The state wanted the death penalty back on the table and the 5th District Court of Appeals ruled in the state’s favor on Wednesday.
“The ruling means that the death penalty is still a viable option and on the table for any pending cases, but the 5th DCA has certified this question as one of great public importance, so it will be reviewed and a final decision will be made by the Florida Supreme Court,” State Attorney Phil Archer said.
The defense said it’s asking for a rehearing and if it’s not granted one, it will seek review from the state Supreme Court. The defense has 14 days left to request a rehearing.
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