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Justices reject appeals in decades-old murders

The Florida Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected appeals from three Death Row inmates who were convicted of committing murders in the 1980s in Pinellas, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

The appeals by attorneys for inmates James Milton Dailey, Daniel Lee Doyle and Duane Eugene Owen were rooted in a January 2016 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a case known as Hurst v. Florida and subsequent Florida Supreme Court decisions.

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.

Attorneys for Dailey, Doyle and Owen argued the new requirements should be applied retroactively to their cases, which could have led to new sentencing hearings. But the Supreme Court rejected the arguments, as it has done in numerous other appeals from longtime Death Row inmates.

Justices have made the new sentencing requirements apply to cases since 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.

Dailey, now 72, was convicted in a 1985 murder in Pinellas County; Doyle, now 58, was convicted in a 1981 murder in Broward County; and Owen, now 57, was convicted in a 1984 murder in Palm Beach County, according to court and Department of Corrections records.

Republished with permission of the News Service of Florida.

The News Service of Florida provides journalists, lobbyists, government officials and other civic leaders with comprehensive, objective information about the activities of state government year-round.

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