James Rhodes' trial delayed again

Man accused of killing cellphone store clerk was set for trial next week

James Rhodes
James Rhodes

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The trial for the man accused of gunning down Metro PCS clerk Shelby Farah in 2013 has been postponed for the fourth time.

Judge Tatiana Salvador on Monday scrubbed next week’s trial date for James Rhodes and said the case won’t move ahead until there’s guidance from the state’s high court on challenges to the death penalty.

Defense attorneys for Rhodes have filed a long list of motions related to Florida's death penalty. Rhodes' trial had been scheduled to start Aug. 29.

Rhodes' next pretrial hearing will be Oct. 24, and a trial might not happen until April 2017.

Lawyers from all over Florida have asked the Supreme Court to strike down the state's death penalty law as unconstitutional, even with fixes made by the Legislature.

The Rhodes case is one of several high-profile murder prosecutions that have bogged down in the uncertainty over the law.

Gov. Rick Scott signed into law in March a measure designed to fix the state's death penalty sentencing process after it was found unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. The new law requires a jury to vote at least 10-2 for someone to receive a death sentence.

Rhodes' attorneys contend that a jury verdict must be unanimous in death penalty cases.

Rhodes' public defender has repeatedly tried to get the state to accept a plea deal with Rhodes that would take the death penalty off the table.

The State Attorney's Office said it will continue to seek the death penalty against Rhodes, who is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Farah, 20, during a robbery at a Brentwood cellphone store.

Police said Rhodes pointed a gun at Farah and demanded money. They said she cooperated and after she handed him the last bit of money, he fired four rounds, killing her.