Fla. Court Upholds Death Penalty
Oct. 24, 2002
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) _ The Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the state's death penalty sentencing law is constitutional even though it lets a judge overrule a jury's recommendation.
The court unanimously turned down two death row inmates who had appealed on the basis of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling earlier this year in an Arizona case.
In June, the high court found Arizona's capital sentencing law unconstitutional because it allowed a judge to find an aggravating circumstance necessary to impose the death penalty. Juries, not judges, must make the crucial decisions on whether a convicted killer lives or dies, the court ruled.
But the Florida high court noted that the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld the state's sentencing statute over the last quarter century.
The rulings came in separate opinions on cases involving Linroy Bottoson and Amos Lee King.
Bottoson was found guilty of killing Catherine Alexander, 74, in Eatonville in 1979. The town postmistress, she was held captive for 83 hours, stabbed 16 times and then run over by a car and crushed to death. King was convicted of murdering Natalie Brady, 68, who was raped, stabbed and beaten in her Tarpon Springs home in 1977.
Bottoson's jury recommended death by a vote of 10-2. King's jury was unanimous in recommending death.