Friday, July 6, 2018

Death Row inmate's appeal rejected in 1995 Central Florida murder

Posted By on Fri, Jul 6, 2018 at 10:49 AM

The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday rejected an appeal by a Death Row inmate convicted of strangling a woman outside a Winn-Dixie supermarket in October 1995 in Osceola County.

The appeal was filed by attorneys for Scott Mansfield, now 57, who was sentenced to death for the killing of Sara Robles, whose body was found in a grassy area next to a Winn-Dixie in Kissimmee, according to a summary of the case included in a brief filed by Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office.

Robles’ breasts and pelvic area had been mutilated, the brief said. Robles and Mansfield had been seen together in a bar in the same shopping center as the Winn-Dixie before she was killed.

The Supreme Court opinion Thursday said Mansfield’s appeal was based, at least in part, on a January 2016 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a case known as Hurst v. Florida and a subsequent Florida Supreme Court decision.

The 2016 U.S. Supreme Court ruling found Florida's death-penalty sentencing system was unconstitutional because it gave too much authority to judges, instead of juries.

The subsequent Florida Supreme Court ruling said juries must unanimously agree on critical findings before judges can impose death sentences and must unanimously recommend the death penalty.

But in Mansfield’s case, like in many other old death-penalty cases, the Florida justices ruled that the new sentencing guidelines should not apply retroactively.

That is because Mansfield was sentenced to death before June 2002, which is when the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling known as Ring v. Arizona that was a premise for striking down Florida's death-penalty sentencing system in 2016.

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