Morales family prepares for Tisdale sentencing

Posted at 11:49 PM, Apr 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-29 09:52:49-04

ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. -- Nearly 3 years after a St. Lucie County Sergeant, Gary Morales, was shot and killed in the line of duty, his convicted killer is set to be sentenced.

Friday morning, a St. Lucie County judge could choose to sentence Eriese Tisdale to death if the judge follows a jury’s recommendation.

Morales’ brother, Ken Morales, says the family is trying to treat the sentencing like any other day. They’ve been to the St. Lucie County courthouse countless times over the last few years. Friday, Morales hopes to leave the courthouse for a final time with some closure.

“A little anxious. We don’t know what the outcome is going to be tomorrow,” Morales said. “We’re ready to get this done with and close this chapter in our life and move on. We’re ready.”

In October, a jury recommended a judge sentence Tisdale to death for shooting and killing Sgt. Morales in 2013 following a traffic stop.

Jurors voted 9 to 3 in approval of the death penalty.

But a shakeup in Tallahassee delayed a judge making the ultimate sentencing decision.

The Supreme Court deemed the state’s death penalty laws unconstitutional.

After the verdict, a new law passed in Florida. It allows the death penalty to be recommended only if 10 out of 12 jurors vote in favor of it. It is no longer just a simple majority of jurors.

WPTV legal analyst Michelle Suskauer says this means there are several things that a judge could do Friday.

“Is he going to impanel a new jury for this phase two? Is he going to disregard the jury recommendation and impose a sentence of life? Is he going to follow the recommendation and follow the state’s recommendation and impose the death penalty? I’m not sure.”

Morales just hopes there is a decision, and not a delay.

“We just want justice. We know he’s going to spend the rest of his life in jail. Whatever the outcome is, he’s spending the rest of his life in jail. We’ll accept whatever the judge says,” Morales said.

The sentencing begins at 9 AM at the St. Lucie County Courthouse.