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Jury recommends death sentence for coconut grove man

Posted on February 04, 2011 3:00 AM EST

After lengthy deliberation, 8 out of 10 jurors recommended that local man convicted of first degree murder and armed robbery receive the death penalty. Brandon Rolle and his Miami criminal attorney were present in court when the recommendation was handed down by the jury. The same jury convicted the defendant in October for killing and robbing a tourist visiting his son in Miami. While in town to celebrate his son's birthday, the victim apparently got lost in the Coconut Grove area and was shot and killed when he stopped to ask for directions. The murder/robbery occurred back in 2006.

The defendant was charged with first degree felony murder, as premeditation would have been difficult to prove as there were no eyewitnesses to the event. In general, all homicides that result for violent crimes are charged as felony murder as it is not necessary for the State to prove that the defendant had a premeditated design or intent to kill. To prove first degree felony murder, the State has to prove that (1) the victim is dead, (2) the defendant was the person who actually killed the victim, and (3) the death occurred as a result of and while engaged in the commission of an enumerated offense. The enumerated offenses for first degree felony murder are: drug trafficking, arson, sexual battery, robbery, burglary, kidnapping, escape, aggravated child abuse, carjacking, home-invasion robbery, aggravated stalking, and resisting an officer with violence. First degree felony is a capital crime punishable as set forth in Florida Statute 775.082.

A person who has been convicted of a capital crime can be sentenced to death of life in prison. That determination is made by a circuit court judge with recommendations provided by a jury. The procedure for sentencing in capital cases can be found in Florida Statute 921.141. A sentencing hearing will occur after a conviction with preferably the same jury who rendered the verdict. If convening the same jury is impractical, a judge may summon a special jury to determine the issue of the death penalty. At the sentencing hearing, the State will present aggravating factors while the defense lawyer will present mitigating factors to the jury. The jury has to decide whether there are sufficient aggravating factors which are set forth in the statute such as prior crimes and how the enumerated crime was committed. The jury then has to determine whether the mitigating circumstances outweigh the aggravating factors. Mitigating circumstances are also set forth in the statute and include lack of prior criminal history or the defendant's mental state at the time of the offense.

After hearing all of the evidence, the jury will deliberate and render an advisory sentence to the judge presiding over the hearing. The advisory sentence is no way binding on the judge, but judges give these types of recommendations a lot of weight. If a judge imposes a death sentence, he must do so in writing and on the record. These written finding of fact must include the aggravating and mitigating factors discussed earlier. Any death sentence imposed will be reviewed as a matter of law by the Florida Supreme Court within two years after a notice of appeal is filed.

Jurors Recommend Death Penalty for Coconut Grove Man Convicted of Tourist Murder, Miami Herald.com, February 3, 2011.
Categories: Violent Crimes