Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Death for Craigslist Killer Up for Debate; High Court to Hear Whether State Should Have Intervened despite Sparre's Refusal to Defend Himself

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Death for Craigslist Killer Up for Debate; High Court to Hear Whether State Should Have Intervened despite Sparre's Refusal to Defend Himself

Article excerpt

Byline: Larry Hannan

A man who killed a Navy wife after answering her personal ad on Craigslist may end up changing the way death-penalty cases are defended in Florida.

Lawyers for David Kelsey Sparre, 22, are asking the Florida Supreme Court to throw out his death sentence for the murder of 21-year-old Tiara Pool, whose body was found with an estimated 89 slashes inside her Hodges Boulevard apartment in July 2010.

Sparre arranged to meet Pool while her husband, with whom her marriage had become troubled, was deployed at sea. Sparre later told police he killed Pool for the "rush."

In court filings Tallahassee Assistant Public Defender Nada Carey argues that Circuit Judge Elizabeth Senterfitt was wrong to sentence Sparre to death without allowing evidence to be presented on his mental-health and substance-abuse issues.

Sparre told his lawyers he didn't want to mount a defense. But Carey said that when death-penalty defendants refuse to defend themselves, the state still has an obligation to consider factors that would justify life in prison without parole instead of Death Row.

"A sentence of death resulting from anything less than a full airing of the relevant facts in mitigation does not meet the constitutional standards of reliability recognized by this court," Carey said in court filings.

Oral arguments before the Supreme Court are scheduled for Tuesday.

At a death-penalty hearing prior to sentencing, Chief Assistant Public Defender Refik Eler, who defended Sparre at trial, had planned to introduce evidence that he was mentally unbalanced and had been abusing drugs and alcohol since he was 11.

But Sparre instructed Eler not to present any evidence on his behalf. With no defense, and friends and family of Pool testifying for the prosecution during the hearing, the jury that convicted Sparre unanimously recommended he get death and Senterfitt followed its recommendation. …

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