The Florida Supreme Court has vacated the death sentence of Eriese Tisdale who killed St. Lucie County Deputy Sgt. Gary Morales.
Tisdale shot and killed Sgt. Morales during a traffic stop in Fort Pierce in February 2013.
Following Tisdale’s conviction, a jury voted 9-to-3 for the death penalty and a judge later agreed with their recommendation. At the time, the law allowed a trial judge to impose a death sentence following a recommendation by at least seven jurors.
Tisdale's sentencing hearing was set for January 15, 2016. However, three days before the sentencing, the United States Supreme Court declared "Florida's sentencing scheme" unconstitutional.
The law now says that a death sentence requires a unanimous jury recommendation.
St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara issued the following statement:
“Though incredibly unfortunate, this decision does not come as a great surprise. Once the Supreme Court ruled in Hurst that Florida’s sentencing procedure was unconstitutional, we expected that this was a possibility. Nonetheless, it is another tragic moment in one of the greatest tragedies our agency has ever experienced. Now, both the Morales family and Gary’s Sheriff’s Office family will have to once again relive the horrific act that took away a hero, a son, a dad, a husband, and a friend. And we will have to once again listen to the litany of pathetic excuses Tisdale offered in mitigation of his sentence. I have already confirmed with State Attorney Bruce Colton and Chief Assistant State Attorney Tom Bakkedahl that they will once again vehemently seek the death penalty, and I trust that justice will be done.”