The attorneys after the sentencing was halted

The State of Florida was granted an emergency order to halt the trial of Troy Victorino and Jerone Hunter April 27, on day three of their jury trial. 

On the last day of jury selection in the case, April 20, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill enacting a new death penalty law allowing for non-unanimous jury decisions in death penalty cases. 

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Victorino and Hunter, both on death row, are in the midst of a resentencing process triggered by an older version of the law, which had required unanimous jury decisions in death penalty recommendations. That older version of the law was applied retroactively to the pair, whose 2006 death penalty sentences were decided by non-unanimous jury decisions. 

The newest death penalty law threw their jury trial into some confusion, as lawyers arrived to make opening statements April 25 without actually knowing which law the process would be under — the 2017 to 2023 law, requiring unanimity, or the brand-new law, which only requires eight of 12 jurors to agree upon a sentence of death.

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Judge Randell Rowe ruled April 25 that the trial had started before the new law was passed, as, according to case law, he said, a trial technically starts when the first group of potential jurors is sworn in.

The state quickly filed a motion to stay the proceedings with the 5th District Court of Appeals, which was granted the morning of April 27. Lawyers, family members of the victims, and a cadre of members of the media were informed that morning outside of the courtroom.

The trial is now paused, and the 12 jurors and three alternates were sent home with strict instructions to continue to not speak about the trial or read any information about it.

“I am incredibly frustrated on behalf of these jurors, and of course on behalf of my client, Mr. Hunter,” defense attorney Allison Williams said in court.

It is unclear how long the stay will be in effect, as the matter now will be decided in the appellate court. 


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