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Who is Florida death row inmate Timothy Hurst?

In this undated photo made available by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, inmate Timothy Lee Hurst. The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016, that Florida's unique system for sentencing people to death is unconstitutional because it gives too much power to judges and not enough to juries to decide capital sentences. The court sided with Hurst, who was convicted of the 1998 murder of his manager in Pensacola, Fla. (Florida Department of Law Enforcement via AP) MH101
Published Jan. 13, 2016

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.


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