JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Lawyers for a Jacksonville man convicted of first-degree murder in the 2009 beating death of 82-year-old Renie Telzer Bain were in court Monday, arguing that he should get a new trial.
The Florida Supreme Court upheld Cecil King's conviction and death sentence, but he was granted an evidentiary hearing on a motion that his case be retried.
Prosecutors said King, who did lawn maintenance for Bain, broke into her Brierwood home and beat her to death with a hammer. The murder weapon, two socks, nail clippings, hair and fibers on a shirt and blood evidence were presented at his trial.
King maintained his innocence, saying the evidence linking him to the crime was nothing but a coincidence, but prosecutors said his DNA matched the DNA left on a piece of fruit found inside the home. King maintained he never entered Bain's house.
He was convicted and sentenced in 2011.
Defense lawyers asked Monday for a specific type of DNA testing of more than blood evidence that could show that someone else might have been at the scene of Telzer Bain's murder.
Prosecutors argued that the testing and holding another trial would be a waste of taxpayer money for a man who has already been convicted by a jury. THey said DNA testing on the hammer now would certainly produce a different result.
"It was handled throughout the trial," Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda said. "What are we trying to get now? They’re just trying to say, 'Oh, now look, somebody else’s DNA?' ... Anybody … all the prosecutors, all the police, all the clerks, people, everybody else has their DNA. This could go on forever."
Lysa Telzer, the victim's daughter-in-law, said she was stunned to see defense lawyers making such requests in a case that's already closed.
"I think this is all about the defendant, and everybody forgets about the victim," Telzer said. "This is my wonderful 82-year-old mother-in-law that would never hurt a fly, and she was brutally tortured and murdered. I feel she just can’t rest in peace right now."
Circuit Judge Mallory Cooper made no ruling Monday, but scheduled another hearing on the motion next month.
If the case were retried and King were found guilty again, the sentence could be different. In the original trial, the jury voted 8-4 to sentence him to death. Under new rules passed by the Florida Legislature this year, a 10-2 vote is needed for a death sentence.
"The way the statutes are going to change could perhaps be in his favor, and I’m resigned to the fact that they may have to redo the death penalty phase of the trial," Telzer said. "I'm not worried; it’s just painful."