Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Death Penalty Overturned in Jacksonville Murder Case; Man Who Fatally Shot Convenience Store Clerk Will Get Life Sentence

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Death Penalty Overturned in Jacksonville Murder Case; Man Who Fatally Shot Convenience Store Clerk Will Get Life Sentence

Article excerpt

Byline: Larry Hannan

The Florida Supreme Court has overturned the death sentence of a Jacksonville man convicted of killing a 19-year-old store clerk at his family-owned convenience store in Arlington.

Michael Mulugetta Yacob, 28, will be resentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the first-degree murder of Moussa Maida. In a 5-2 ruling released Thursday, the Supreme Court said Maida's murder was not proportionate to other cases in which the death sentence has been upheld.

Prosecutors in the office of State Attorney Angela Corey pursued the death penalty for Yacob even though the only aggravating factor that justified death was that the murder had been committed during a felony, in this case the robbery of the convenience store.

"In fact, we conclude after careful review that this case is indistinguishable from other cases involving the single aggravator of a murder during the commission of a robbery where we have vacated the death penalty," the Supreme Court said.

Florida law lists 16 aggravating circumstances that allow a prosecutor to seek death when someone is charged with first-degree murder, including robbery and when the crime was particularly heinous, atrocious and cruel.

When sentencing Yacob to death, Circuit Judge Adrian G. Soud said death-penalty sentences usually are not upheld when there is only one aggravating factor, but he argued that the case of Yacob was different because there was a security video that showed the robbery and murder.

Maida could be heard struggling to breathe, dying on the floor after being shot. That video eliminated many of the uncertainties that exist in other murder cases, Soud said.

"This is not a case of a robbery gone bad," Soud said. "This is not a case of things going out of control. This is the case of a man who made a conscious decision to end the life of a 19-year-old boy."

But the Supreme Court disagreed, and said it was a robbery gone bad.

"There was no indication that murdering Maida was part of Yacob's original robbery plans," the Supreme Court said.

During oral arguments last year, Assistant Attorney General Stephen White acknowledged that he couldn't find a single case where the Supreme Court upheld a death sentence when there was only one aggravating factor that justified death.

But White argued that this was a special case because of the video, which shows Yacob firing his gun after Maida had locked himself inside the cashier's booth and locked Yacob into the store with the police on their way. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.