Jury recommends death for 2008 murder

Florida Department of Corrections photo of Leo Kaczmar
Florida Department of Corrections photo of Leo Kaczmar

GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. – A jury recommended the death penalty Tuesday for a Green Cove Springs man who had been granted a resentencing hearing.

Leo Kaczmar III, 29, was convicted in the 2008 murder of 49-year-old Maria Ruiz, his father's girlfriend. He was also found guilty of attempted sexual battery.

In December 2008, Kaczmar attacked Ruiz, stabbing her more than 90 times, while he was high on cocaine. He then attempted to cover his tracks by setting the house on fire. After he was arrested, Kaczmar paid an undercover officer $300 to frame someone else for the murder and to intimidate witnesses in the case.

The Florida Supreme Court threw out the death sentence, ruling it appeared Kaczmar stabbed Ruiz after she rebuffed his advances and that the murder was not cold, calculated or premeditated.

A new jury heard the penalty phase Tuesday in Clay County court and voted 12-0 to recommend death.

No sentencing date has been set.