51ºF

Supreme Court orders new sentencing in double murder

Florida Department of Corrections photo of Raymond Bright
Florida Department of Corrections photo of Raymond Bright

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Pointing to inadequate legal representation, the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday said a Jacksonville man should get a chance to avoid the death penalty in two 2008 killings.

The Supreme Court unanimously approved a new sentencing proceeding for Raymond Bright, 62, who was sent to Death Row for the murders of Derrick King and Randall Brown.

The victims were bludgeoned with a hammer in what was believed to be a drug-related dispute.

The Supreme Court's decision does not affect Bright's convictions but will require a circuit judge to hold a sentencing proceeding to determine whether he should receive the death penalty.

Justices pointed to what is known as "ineffective assistance of counsel" during Bright's original sentencing.

In part, the Supreme Court described Bright's "nightmarish childhood," which included significant abuse, and said such issues were not adequately raised during the original sentencing to try to spare Bright from the death penalty.

The Supreme Court upheld a ruling by a lower court on the issue.

"The jury never learned who Raymond Bright is," the Supreme Court opinion said. "Therefore, competent, substantial evidence supports the findings of the post-conviction court that Bright was prejudiced by the deficient performance of his penalty phase counsel."