Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Prosecutors Mulling Penalty to Seek in McCue Slaying Case

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Prosecutors Mulling Penalty to Seek in McCue Slaying Case

Article excerpt

Byline: Maggie FitzRoy

Prosecutors hadn't decided this week if they'll seek the death penalty against Charles Edward Pearce after a grand jury upgraded his charge from second- to first-degree murder in the slaying of Jacksonville Beach resident Michael McCue.

Assistant State Attorney Janeen Mira said this week that "we still haven't made a decision with the death penalty yet."

Pearce is accused of killing McCue, 42, on Feb. 9, and is also charged with first-degree attempted murder of his stepfather, Michael Otis, the same day. McCue, who lived around the corner from Otis, was found dead in his driveway. He appeared to have been gunned down as he was planting shrubbery.

About the time McCue was shot that afternoon, Pearce fired directly at Otis but missed as Otis rode past him on a scooter on Fifth Avenue North, police said. On April 5, Pearce pleaded guilty to the attempted murder charge, but not guilty to the murder charge.

His next scheduled court hearing is Monday in Jacksonville.

Mitch McCue, twin brother of the slain man, said he plans to attend that arraignment and all of Pearce's future court appearances.

"I gave my brother Mike my word that I would be at every court hearing," he said. Even if it's only a four-minute arraignment proceeding, "I'll be there to represent my brother Michael and my family."

McCue said Monday that his family is "very happy" with the state attorney's handling of the case.

A first-degree murder conviction allows for the death penalty, and a grand jury indictment on first-degree murder opens the way for that. McCue, also of Jacksonville Beach, said that would be a fitting punishment.

He declined to comment on whether or not he believes Pearce is guilty. But "through the electric chair or lethal injection, the state has a way of providing justice," he said.

Mira said Monday that she will not comment on the facts of the case.

Martin Edwards, director of the pre-law program at the University of North Florida, said there could be numerous reasons why prosecutors would first charge second-degree murder then upgrade it to first-degree.

Second-degree is initially easier to file, said Edwards, who said he is somewhat familiar with Pearce's case. …

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