The bill Florida Gov. Ron De Santis signed into law last week will allow juries to recommend a death sentence with an 8-4 vote, the lowest threshold in the U.S.
The legislation was spurred by the frustration felt by DeSantis and Republican lawmakers over the Parkland shooting verdict last year. In that case, Nikolas Cruz was convicted of killing 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018 and was sentenced to life without parole after the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict, as was then required. When DeSantis signed the bill into law, he was surrounded by lawmakers and the parents of Parkland victims.
“Once a defendant in a capital case is found guilty by a unanimous jury, one juror should not be able to veto a capital sentence,” De Santis said at the bill signing.
The new law rescinds an amendment the legislature added to its death penalty bill in 2017, requiring a unanimous jury to recommend death.
The new law comes eight days after the state killed Louis Gaskin, who was sentenced to death in 1990 by an 8-4 vote. Gaskin’s was Florida’s second execution this year. Donald Dillbeck was killed in February, the first execution in the state since 2019. The state has killed more than 100 people since the death penalty was reinstated in 1972.