Decades later: Man still on death row

Updated:

Loading

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - There has still been no justice for the family of a young Brevard County girl who was snatched from her bedroom, raped and murdered decades ago.

Her killer, Bryan Jennings, is still on death row and is now in the middle of a new appeal.

In 1979, 6-year-old Becky Kunash lived in a quiet, middle-class Merritt Island neighborhood.

On May 11 of that year, she became the victim in one of the worst murder cases prosecutor Chris White said he has ever seen.

"In terms of individual murders, this, I think, perhaps could be the worst," White said.

Prosecutors said that after a night of drinking, Jennings, a U.S. Marine, opened Becky's window, removed the screen and snatched her from her bed as she slept. Her parents were in the next room.

Jennings took the first-grader to a nearby canal, where he raped her and then killed her.

"Where he raped her, where he flung her over his shoulder, using her legs as a handle of a pick-axe, he swung her down, struck her head on the curb, bashing her head in, then took her down into the canal, where he held her under water until there were no more bubbles," said White.

Jennings was convicted and sentenced to death, for the first time, in 1980.

He won some appeals, but was convicted and sentenced to death two more times.

Thirty-four years later, after three trials, three convictions and three death sentences, Jennings is still on death row and still filing appeals.

"We all know he's guilty, he knows he's guilty, he's just playing the system and the system allows him to do that," said Junny Martinez.

Martinez's son Junny Rios-Martinez was kidnapped and murdered 11 years after Becky's death.

It took more than 18 years for him to see his son's killer put to death.

For Becky's family, it's been nearly twice that long.

"What about that little girl he kidnapped and murdered so brutally, what about her rights? What about her constitutional rights? It's unbelievable," said Martinez.

Becky's father died in 2001, and her mother has moved out of state and is still waiting.

White said he sees no end in sight.

"My frustration is more for her than anything else, it really is. She deserves some closure in this case," said White.

Jennings has another hearing in late January related to his latest appeal.

He's not the only one who has been on death row for decades. Right now there are 20 people who landed on death row before him and are still there.