Florida’s Death Penalty Procedure Once Again Rejected

Florida Supreme CourtFlorida once again has no death penalty, in two separate, highly anticipated rulings today, the Florida Supreme Court sent the legislature back to the drawing board. However, the court did not go as far as some advocates wanted, and declined to commute all current death sentences to life in prison. There are still questions to be answered about every inmate currently sitting on Florida’s death row- 385 total at this time.

One ruling is in regards to the new death penalty procedure laid out by the legislature earlier this year after the Supreme Court ruling in the Hurst case. The Supreme Court had declared Florida’s procedure unconstitutional because it gave the judge and not the jury the power to impose a death sentence. The legislature went back to the drawing board, and rewrote the procedure, but the new procedure was quickly challenged under the Constitution because it did not require a unanimous jury verdict. The court in its ruling today in Perry v. State, found that the Constitution requires that the must make a unanimous finding of at least one of the aggravating factors, and that the recommendation of the death penalty must also be unanimous.

Timothy Hurst

Timothy Hurst

The other ruling that came out today addressed the Hurst case. The US Supreme Court had ordered the court to consider whether the error was harmless. The Florida Supreme Court has now ruled that the error was not harmless, and that Hurst is entitled to a new sentencing hearing. And there’s the rub for the state, because the current procedure was found to be unconstitutional. The court made it clear in Perry that the Florida death penalty is not unconstitutional… but it functionally might as well be, because there is not Constitutionally permissible way to impose such a sentence, until the legislature goes back to the drawing board again.

The Court has not addressed how these procedural changes will affect the other inmates on death row whose sentences were imposed before Hurst, under the old procedure. Normally, procedural changes don’t retroactively affect sentences, and the Court was clear today that their ruling is procedural. However, I think the courts will be hard-pressed to allow 300+ executions to go forward on an unconstitutional death penalty sentencing procedure. we will continue to watch on Crimcourts. Check out our earlier coverage of the death penalty issues.

OVI Checkpoint in Hamilton County Tonight

Cincinnati area friends, there will be a DUI/OVI checkpoint in Norwood tonight. As always be safe, and don’t drink and drive…

Man Convicted for Murder of his Father after Representing Himself


Matthew Marshall

Matthew Marshall was found guilty by a jury this afternoon in the February murder of his father, James Marshall. They lived together in Cape Coral, before James was reported missing in February. His dismembered body was later found, and Matthew was found to have used his father’s credit card the day he disappeared.

Marshall decided to represent himself at trial, and did so, personally conducting jury selection, questioning and arguments. He contested that he had no motive, and that the state could not prove he had committed the offense. The strategy did not help, as the jury found him guilty of second degree murder, abuse of a body, and evidence tampering just a little while ago. He may want to use an attorney to assist him with the appeal, he is facing possible life in prison when he is sentenced Nov. 21.

Fox4 also ran a chilling exclusive interview with an Uber driver that gave Matthew Marshall a ride the night of the murder… all the more scarier now that he has been convicted of the offense.

Web Page Publishers Charged with Pimping


Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer

Backpage.com is known among the criminal bar as a webpage that carries personal ads targeting ‘adult services’, like the old back pages of tabloid papers. It’s not unusual for that to be the source leading to prostitution arrests. California Attorney General Kamala Harris initiated these charges as part of a crackdown on human trafficking. As far as I know, it’s the first time a webpage publisher has faced criminal charges for a hosting-type situation. It will be interesting if these charges will hold up, and for the First Amendment ramifications for charging a publisher. Some of the facts cited by the LA Times are damning, as these men were making millions from the website, and there are shocking numbers of minors being trafficked by pimps on Backpage.

Former Harvard Law Attorney Pleads Guilty to Bizarre Kidnapping Plot

Matthew Muller

Frmr. Atty. Matthew Muller

Matthew Muller was admitted to practice law in California in 2011 after graduating Harvard Law. A decorated former Marine, he could have accomplished anything with his life, and now he is facing life behind bars. Muller pled guilty on Thursday to a kidnapping and ransom plot, and his attorney is concerned that he could be sentenced to life in prison. In exchange for his plea, prosecutors agreed to recommend no more than 40 years in prison, but the ultimate sentence will be up to the judge.

When Denise Huskins and her boyfriend Aaron Quinn reported that they had been kidnapped, investigators did not believe them, and developed a theory that the report was a hoax. That was finally shot down when Muller was caught in another home invasion/attempted robbery and discovery the trappings of this offense. He had demanded $17,000 in ransom payments that he never collected, and Ms. Huskins was ultimately dropped off safely at her family home.

Huskins and Quinn have filed a lawsuit against the Vallejo police department for their mishandling of the case, and claim that they had to move our of town after the department’s allegations of a bogus kidnapping. Police doubted Ms. Huskins because they thought she didn’t act like a kidnapping victim: going as far to require Mr. Quinn to provide DNA samples. The whole case is crazy: I look forward to seeing it on ’48 Hours’ or even in a movie.





The Amanda Knox Documentary is now on Netflix

The documentary about Amanda Knox, and the case of the murder of Meredith Kercher, is no streaming on Netflix.

The New Fort Myers Police Chief is Reaching Out to the Community


FMPD Chief Derrick Diggs

After my last couple posts, I am glad to change it up with some positive news coming from law enforcement. The new Chief of FMPD held a couple of community engagement sessions for the purpose of building a relationship between the department and the community. Chief Derrick Diggs held two sessions today, and is holding another session tomorrow. I think he has his work cut out for him, but every journey begins with the first step. Ironically, the News-Press linked relates stories to this one, so as you read the article, there are linked headlines to stories about harassment, and persistent discrimination at the Department.

Chief Diggs is taking the first positive steps to develop a positive culture at FMPD, which is a building block to connecting with the community and hopefully addressing the violence that has become persistent.