Florida bill would require unanimous jury recommendation in death penalty cases

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TALLAHASSEE, Florida — Florida would require a unanimous jury recommendation in death penalty cases under a bill approved in its first Senate committee stop.

The Senate Criminal Justice Committee unanimously approved the measure on Monday, exactly a week after the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review Florida's death penalty sentencing laws.

Only two other states allow non-unanimous jury recommendations — Alabama and Delaware. The Supreme Court decided to hear a case in which Timothy Hurst's lawyers claim his death sentence is unconstitutional because it wasn't unanimous.

A jury recommended 7-5 that Hurst be executed for the 1998 murder of his manager at a Pensacola-area Popeye's restaurant.

The new sentencing procedures would take effect July 1 if the bill becomes law. It would only apply to cases where a sentence hasn't been imposed yet.

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