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Florida Supreme Court Overturns Three Death Sentences


The Florida Supreme Court overturned three death sentences on Thursday, returning the question of the punishment each will endure to a new set of juries. The resentencing is putting into action a decision by the Court last month disallowing death sentences given by non-unanimous juries that were handed down prior to June 24, 2002.

Lancelot Uriley Armstrong was sentenced to death in June 1991, convicted of slaying a Broward County Sheriff’s deputy in the course of an armed robbery in February of that year. Now 53, Armstrong’s sentencing jury voted 9-3 in favor of the death penalty.

Donald Otis Williams will be resentenced for his conviction stemming from allegedly kidnapping and killing a Lake County octogenarian in October, 2010. Now 56, Williams previously spent time in a Florida prison for a carjacking almost exactly ten years prior.

William Michael Kopsho was sentenced to death in July 2009 for allegedly killing his wife nine years prior after discovering she was having an affair. The 63-year-old spent time in Florida prison in the 1990’s on a conviction of false imprisonment and sexual battery.

None of these men’s convictions will be overturned or re-argued – the only aspect of their case that could change is the sentence. Additionally, should SB 280 be passed into law, the court may require a unanimous vote from the jury to assign a death sentence.

Experts expect that these are simply the first three sentences to be remanded for resentencing by the Court. Over two hundred death sentences were passed by non-unanimous juries prior to June 2002 that have yet to be carried out and, as a result, may find their way to a new sentencing jury.

The Law Offices of Bjorn Brunvand have been representing people charged with capital murder, felony drug charges, drunk driving, government fraud, and white-collar crimes for over a quarter century. Contact our office today to discuss your Tampa Bay-area state or federal charges.


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