Florida Supreme Court upholds death sentence in murder of teenager

Supreme Court of Florida
Bargo lured, murdered and discarded the body of a 15-year-old boy in 2011.

A 29-year-old man will remain on death row after the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a lower court’s death sentence verdict.

In a 6-1 decision, justices denied Michael Shane Bargo’s appeal after his attorneys — among other arguments — claimed a circuit court failed to consider his mental condition during trail.

According to the Florida Supreme Court opinion, Bargo lured, murdered and discarded the body of a 15-year-old boy in 2011.

“Bargo’s plan was to keep the victim alive after the initial assault so that Bargo could kill him and the victim would know his killer before he died,” the opinion reads. “To that end, Bargo stayed in the bathroom with the victim and hit him, cursed at him, and fired more bullets into him. Bargo ultimately killed the victim by shooting him in the face.”

The Florida Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the verdict marks the end of a long line of appeals in Bargo’s case.

Despite a jury voting overwhelmingly in favor of the death sentence at Bargo’s original trial, the Florida Supreme Court later ordered a new sentencing hearing because the vote wasn’t unanimous.

At a later hearing, Bargo was sentenced to death again, this time unanimously.

In all, Chief Justice Charles Canady and Justices Ricky Polston, Alan Lawson, Carlos Muniz, John Couriel and Jamie Grosshans voted to uphold the decision.

Justice Jorge Labarga, however, dissented and wrote in favor of a “comparative proportionality review.”

The review involves the consideration of aggravating and mitigating circumstances. In his dissenting opinion, Labarga noted Bargo’s history of brain damage, bipolar disorder and hallucinations and substance abuse.

He also noted that Bargo grew up in a “disadvantaged and abusive home” and was misdiagnosed and treated for ADHD.

“Accordingly, because I believe comparative proportionality review would have provided this Court with a significant and useful lens through which to analyze Bargo’s case, I respectfully dissent,” Labargo wrote.

Baker is incarcerated at the Union Correctional Institution in Raiford.

Jason Delgado

Jason Delgado covers news out of the Florida State Capitol. After a go with the U.S. Army, the Orlando-native attended the University of Central Florida and earned a degree in American Policy and National Security. His past bylines include WMFE-NPR and POLITICO Florida. He'd love to hear from you. You can reach Jason by email ([email protected]) or on Twitter at @byJasonDelgado.


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