Death sentence vacated for Brevard County man accused of killing 5-year-old girl, parents

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — The Florida Supreme Court threw out the death sentence for a Brevard County man who was convicted of killing a family of three.

It’s one of the latest death sentences vacated since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a jury's death recommendation must be unanimous.

The state has made no decision on whether it will seek the death penalty again in the case, but the office said it would thoroughly review the available evidence, seek input from family members and law enforcement officials and then determine how to move forward.

More than seven years after the murder of 5-year-old Ivory Hamilton in which Justin Heyne was sent to death row, Florida's Supreme Court has vacated his sentence.

But the court upheld the conviction for the girl's murder, along with the convictions for the murders of her parents, Benjamin Hamilton and Sarah Buckoski.

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Heyne is serving life sentences in their deaths.

“The family really doesn't want to go through another trial again. We will, if we need to, (but) we really don't want to,” said Sarah Buckoski’s father, Dave Buckoski.

On March 30, 2006, Sarah Buckoski returned to her Titusville home with Ivory, to find the girl's father and Heyne in an argument over a debt.

Heyne had been staying with the couple.

Heyne felt disrespected, and when he heard Hamilton cock a 9mm gun, he retrieved his own weapon.

When Hamilton saw his daughter, he dropped his weapon and told his daughter to leave.

Heyne first shot Hamilton, then Buckoski and then their little girl.

“And truthfully, we really don't care what happens to Justin.

Whatever's going to happen is going to happen. We've turned it over to God,” said Dave Buckoski. “God's going to take care of it.”

The State Attorney's Office said it will continue to receive cases in which the convictions are affirmed, but the death sentences are vacated.

The cases will be handled on a case-by-case basis