Who is Timothy Lee Hurst?
Hurst, now 37, was accused of killing his restaurant co-worker Cynthia Harrison in Pensacola in 1998. Hurst, whose lawyers described him as mentally disabled with an IQ between 70 and 78, cut and stabbed Harrison with a box cutter, left her body, bound and gagged, in a freezer and stole about $1,000 from the Popeyes restaurant. He later spent $300 on rings at a pawn shop.
At his trial, prosecutors linked him to the crime with forensic evidence and witnesses who testified that he announced in advance that he planned to rob the restaurant. The 12 jurors found him guilty of first-degree murder. After a sentencing hearing, the jurors recommended by a 11-1 vote that he be put to death. The judge agreed.
The sentence, however, was later vacated for reasons unrelated to the U.S. Supreme Court case and a second sentencing hearing took place in 2012. Another jury again recommended the death penalty — by a 7-5 vote. The judge again agreed and sentenced Hurst to death.
His lawyers argued Hurst's case before the Supreme Count in October. On Tuesday, the court ruled that Florida's death penalty sentencing process was unconstitutional because jurors should decide a defendant's fate, not a judge. Hurst could now be resentenced for a third time.