Twelve Miami-Dade County jurors recently deliberated on whether a man should be sentenced to life in prison or receive the death penalty for his crimes. The reason that this case is historic is that it is the first time in Miami that a death-penalty case went to a sentencing hearing since the state of Florida changed the rules all together for awarding the death penalty to certain criminals. In this particular case, instead of send this convicted killer to Death Row, the jury chose mercy through a sentence of life in prison.
Kendrick Silver is a twice-convicted murderer. His crimes date back to 2006 and 2007 when he killed two men in robbery attempts. The first man was a jogger in Coral Gables who was shot in the chest for his flip-phone in 2006. The second victim was a security guard who was shot dead as he sat in his car just five months later; an attempted robbery turned murder, and Silver was the man responsible. In separate trials for each crime, Silver was tried and convicted of murder, but sentencing did not happen until recently.
The jury in Silver’s sentencing case heard from both sides about the crimes committed by him 10 years ago, but his defense is ultimately what won them over. Because he had already been convicted of the crimes, the job of the defense was not to prove that he was innocent, but to show the jury that he was not deserving of a penalty as harsh as death. Throughout the sentencing hearing, the jury heard from the defense about Silver’s troubled childhood, and the abuse he endured as a youth who grew up in sub-standard familial conditions. The defense asked the jury for mercy in the case of a man who has recently found positive structure to his life and is currently a model inmate while he waits on his fate behind bars.
Florida recently changed its sentencing structure with regards to awarding the death penalty. For many years, a simple majority of seven jurors could recommend the death penalty as punishment for a crime, with a judge making the final decision. However, in January of 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Florida’s death-penalty sentencing rules were unconstitutional because defendants have a right to a trial by jury, and a simple majority is too small a number to agree to send a person to death. Florida lawmakers scrambled to change the requirement to remove a judge’s override and require a vote of 10 out of 12 jurors.
Then, in March of 2017, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that death-penalty sentencing must be agreed to unanimously by a jury, which caused the re-sentencing of many convicted killers already on Death Row who received a lesser punishment of life in prison under certain plea deals due to the changes in the law. Silver’s case was the first heard in Miami-Dade County where a jury was required to vote unanimously to send him to Death Row, but the votes came up short.
A strong defense is extremely important in any case, regardless of the severity of the charge. In this particular example, a man’s defense made the difference between life and death for him.
If you have been charged with a crime it’s imperative that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your attorney will help you navigate the complexities of your charges and the law, and may be able to lower your charges or lessen your sentencing.
[email protected], D. (n.d.). In a first, Miami jurors asked to be unanimous in death-penalty sentencing. Retrieved August 22, 2017, from http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/crime/article167375727.html
[email protected], D. (n.d.). Man who murdered Gables jogger, Miami-Dade security guard gets life, not death. Retrieved August 22, 2017, from http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/crime/article168538207.html