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Florida high court orders resentencing of death row inmate

July 1, 2021 GMT

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The Florida Supreme Court ordered a judge to resentence a man on death row for a 2013 murder, saying in a Thursday ruling that evidence not brought up in his trial was considered during his sentencing .

Christian Cruz and Justen Charles were both convicted of first degree murder in the death of 25-year-old Christopher Jemery in Deltona, but were tried separately by the same judge.

A jury unanimously recommended the death sentence for Cruz before Charles went to trial. A separate jury recommended life in prison without parole for Charles.

Circuit Court Judge Raul Zambrano waited until after both trials were over before sentencing Cruz. The Supreme Court ruled that he took into consideration evidence from the Charles trial that wasn’t presented during Cruz’s trial — specifically that Cruz was the person who shot Jemery in the head.

Zambrano wasn’t bound to follow the jury’s recommended death sentence and had the option of sentencing Cruz to life without parole.

“We direct the trial court to reevaluate and resentence Cruz based solely on the record evidence presented in Cruz’s trial, not codefendant Charles’ trial. A new penalty phase is not necessary,” the court wrote.