An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.  - Gandhi

INNOCENCE: Florida Death Row Inmate Acquitted at Re-trial

Seth Penalver kneels and weeps into his chair after a Broward jury finds him not guilty of the 1994 Casey’s Nickelodeon murders. Penalver had once been convicted and sentenced to death for the crime, but the Florida Supreme Court reversed his conviction in 2006 and ordered a new trial. (Rafael Olmeda, for the Sun Sentinel/ December 21, 2012)

On December 21, Seth Penalver was acquitted of all charges and will be freed from Florida’s death row, 13 years after being sentenced to death. He was originally charged with a triple murder and armed robbery that occurred in Broward County in 1994.  His first trial ended with a deadlocked jury.  At his second trial in 1999, he was convicted and sentenced to death. In 2006, the Florida Supreme Court (Penalver v. Florida, No. SC00-1602, Feb. 2, 2006) overturned his conviction because the prosecution had introduced improper evidence at his trial. A co-defendant, Pablo Ibar, was also sentenced to death and remains on death row. A video from the crime scene helped convict Ibar, but images showing another suspect were inconclusive. Penalver has always maintained his innocence.

At Penalver’s most recent trial, which began 5 months ago, the jury was deadlocked 10-2, and both the prosecution and defense agreed to replace two jurors with alternates who had attended the proceedings. The newly constituted jury began deliberations afresh and found Penalver not guilty of all charges. Penalver is the 142nd person to be exonerated and freed from death row since 1973, and the 24th such person in Florida, the most of any state.


Tags: , , , ,