Jury almost set in Pasco death sentence retrial

DADE CITY — Circuit Judge Lynn Tepper needs 14 jurors to decide whether Lawrence Joey Smith should live or die for the botched 1999 execution of two teens that one of the victims survived.

The state and defense agreed on 10 jurors Tuesday afternoon before court was cut short by threatening storms. The judge recessed early so potential jurors could get home before heavy rains hit.

Court will resume today at 9 a.m. Two more jurors and two alternates need to be picked. If that's done today, opening arguments will begin soon afterward. The defendant is representing himself with the help of court-appointed counsel.

Smith is the gunman and co-defendant Faunce Pearce the accused mastermind of the scheme to kill Robert Crawford, 17, and Stephen Tuttle, 16, for losing a drug dealer's money.

Both were driven to an isolated stretch of Land O'Lakes. Smith killed Crawford with a gunshot to the head. But Tuttle survived his wound.

Smith and Pearce were both convicted and sentenced to die for the plot. Smith's death sentence was overturned in 2004 because of judicial error but his conviction remains.

Pearce's conviction and thus his death sentence were overturned in 2006 because of attorney error.

The question before Smith's jury in this death penalty phase retrial is: Should the 30-year-old be sentenced to life in prison or death for first-degree murder and attempted murder?

A majority vote of the jury will decide his fate.

Jury almost set in Pasco death sentence retrial 02/26/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 8:58am]

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