Friday, December 15, 2017
News Roundup

Hillsborough jury recommends death for Khalid Pasha

TAMPA — For the murders of his wife and her daughter, Khalid Pasha should die, a jury recommended 11-1 on Tuesday.

The jury decision comes more than a decade after the Aug. 23, 2002, murders of 43-year-old Robin Canady and her 20-year-old daughter, Ranesha Singleton, whose bodies were discovered in a remote cul-de-sac at the Woodland Corporate Center on Waters Avenue, throats slit. Pasha was found nearby, their blood on his face.

Despite the physical evidence, Pasha's journey through the court system has been a long one. He was tried in 2007 and sentenced to death, but the Florida Supreme Court decided he was denied his wish to defend himself, so he got another chance.

He floundered through self-representation in January and was convicted in less than an hour. For the penalty phase, he opted for the help of a private, death-penalty-qualified lawyer, who made an impassioned effort this week to spare the sickly 69-year-old a death sentence.

The state presented jurors with "aggravators," state-defined justifications for the death penalty: The murders were cold, calculated and premeditated. They were especially heinous, atrocious or cruel. Pasha had prior felonies, including two bank robberies, and was still on parole.

Defense attorney J. Jervis Wise tried to soften the jurors' image of the man they convicted of first-degree murder by putting his crime in the context of his entire life. His mother died when he was 2. He didn't know his father. He spent his youth as a stepchild of extended family. As a form of discipline, he was hung upside down in a barn.

His defense attorney could find no photo of him as a child. "I am not, in any way, attempting to deflect responsibility," Wise said. But he tried to discount the state's aggravators.

Premeditated? Pasha's first excuse for the blood on his face and in his van was that he had killed a rabbit.

"If that was supposed to be his alibi, that's the worst alibi I've ever heard of," Wise said. "That's not a carefully thought-out plan at all. ... "It was frenzied and haphazard, and it was the product of something we don't necessarily understand."

Picture this, he told the jury. The day comes that this old man — already wearing a diaper — is brought into the execution chamber. Maybe he's in a wheelchair. And he's put on a gurney, and strapped in, and poison is injected into his veins.

"What good is going to come of that day?" Wise asked.

"Will it bring the victims back? Obviously not. Will it bring solace from the family? They never said that. Will it protect society? He's never getting out.

"The man is dying in Florida state prison, and I ask that he die of natural causes."

Circuit Judge Kimberly Fernandez will hear more evidence in late March before imposing a sentence.

Regardless of her decision, Wise may still get his wish. The average time a Florida inmate spends waiting to be executed: 13 years.

Alexandra Zayas can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3354.

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