Thursday, August 23, 2007

Jury Recommends Death For Man Who Strangled 2 Girls

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- A jury recommended the death penalty Tuesday for a convicted pedophile who strangled two young sisters in his apartment, then hid the bodies in his attic.

Jurors decided that Howard Steven Ault, 41, should be sentenced to death for the November 1996 murders of DeAnn Emerald Mu'min, 11, and Sybilla Jones, 7.

Ault had been sentenced to death in 1999 for the murders, but the Florida Supreme Court later threw out the sentence -- but not the conviction -- because a potential juror had been wrongly dismissed.

Now, Circuit Judge Marc Gold must decide whether to follow the jury's recommendation when he sentences Ault, who had prior convictions for preying upon young girls.

Ault lured the sisters to his apartment Nov. 4, 1996, promising them some leftover Halloween candy. He raped and strangled the older girl before strangling her younger sister. Ault, who had been on house arrest for a prior sexual assault at the time, hid the bodies in a crawl space in his attic.

Ault's defense attorney, Mitch Polay, urged jurors not to recommend death because Ault was a mentally ill man who was sexually victimized as a child by his older brother.

"Someone who is sick, someone who is abnormal, someone who is not right should not be killed," Polay said. "Look at the reasons that these things happen."

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