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Florida Supreme Court says prosecutors can't seek death penalty

Posted at 12:40 PM, Jan 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-05 12:57:59-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Florida's highest court is making it clear the state's current death penalty law cannot be applied to people currently awaiting trial for murder.

The Florida Supreme Court Wednesday rejected a request by Attorney General Pam Bondi to clarify two rulings it made last October.

In a 5-2 decision the court stressed Florida's law "cannot be applied to pending prosecutions."

Last fall the court concluded death sentences must require a unanimous jury and then struck down a 2016 law that allowed a defendant to be sentenced to death as long as 10 of 12 jurors recommended it.

Shortly after that ruling Bondi's senior attorney asked the court to revisit its decision to "avoid any potential miscarriage of justice."

Bondi's office asserted death penalty cases could proceed in Florida as long as juries were told they must reach a unanimous decision.