Earlier last month, a man was resentenced to death after being granted a new sentencing phase on appeal. In 2010, Leo Kaczmar III was convicted of the stabbing death of his father’s girlfriend. Along with the murder charge, Kaczmar was charged with arson and attempted sexual battery. During the sentencing phase, the prosecution cited the sexual battery charge as an aggravating circumstance, making Kaczmar eligible for a death sentence, which he ultimately received.
According to a report by Jacksonville.com, Kaczmar won a new trial on appeal based on a lack of evidence for the attempted sexual battery charge. Because that charge was used as an aggravating circumstance, when it was thrown out so was the death sentence. However, after having another sentencing phase Kaczmar was resentenced to death by another jury.
The Death Penalty in Florida
Death sentences in Florida are reserved for the most serious crimes. In fact, in Florida and across the United States, death sentences are handed down only for certain homicide offenses. But it takes more than a homicide conviction to be eligible for a death sentence; there must also be an aggravating circumstance.
The default punishment for all first-degree murder convictions is life in prison without the possibility of parole. If, however, the prosecution can prove an aggravating circumstance, then the death penalty may become an option at sentencing. Aggravating circumstances can focus either on the crime or the offender, and must be found to be true by the jury.
Aggravating Circumstances in Florida
There are many different aggravating circumstances in Florida that can make a defendant death-penalty eligible. The following is a non-exclusive list of potential aggravating circumstances:
- The victim was less than 12 years old.
- The victim was an on-duty law enforcement officer.
- The murder was committed by a sexual offender.
- The defendant knowingly created a great risk to many persons.
- The murder was especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel.
- The defendant was previously convicted of a capital felony or another violent felony.
- The murder was committed in an attempt to evade law enforcement or escape from custody.
Once the jury finds that there was an aggravating circumstance, that is not the end of the proceeding. The jury must then determine whether the mitigating factors surrounding the crime and defendant — e.g., especially troublesome childhood, history of abuse, low IQ, brain injury, age at the time the crime was committed, etc. — outweigh the aggravating circumstance. If so, then a life sentence is required.
Have You Been Charged With Capital Murder in Florida?
If you have recently been arrested for or charged with murder, your life is on the line. Make sure that you have an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney to stand up for your rights and make the prosecution prove every element of the crime. A murder trial doesn’t end at conviction, there is still plenty of work to be done after the guilty verdict to ensure that the sentence is fair and appropriate.
The Forbess Law Firm has experience representing clients charged with all levels of crimes, from DUI to murder. The passionate and zealous defense attorneys at the Forbess Law Firm know what it takes to take a tough case to trial and come out victorious. Click here to contact the Forbess Law Firm online, or call 904-634-0900 today to schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced homicide defense attorney.
See More Blog Posts:
Couple Arrested For Killing Baby With Heroin Filled Baby Bottle, Jacksonville Criminal Attorney Blog, October 15, 2013.
Convicted Murderer Possibly Suffers From New Lethal Injection Concoction, Jacksonville Criminal Attorney Blog, October 24, 2013.