Enoch Hall's Attorneys Argue For More Time To Prepare
POSTED: 7:51 pm EST December 10, 2008
UPDATED: 8:10 pm EST December 10, 2008
TOMOKA, Fla. -- It was determined on Wednesday that it will be well into the new year before an inmate, accused of killing a corrections officer at Tomoka State Prison near Daytona Beach, goes to trial.
Defense attorneys successfully argued for more time to prepare, but the inmate's attorneys didn't have as much success arguing against a possible death sentence.
If convicted of premeditated first-degree murder, 39-year-old Enoch Hall could face the ultimate punishment under Florida and U.S. law -- the death penalty.
His attorneys presented a host of motions on Wednesday calling the death penalty unconstitutional.
"There's no rational reason for a death sentence to be imposed when a life sentence is just as appropriate," said assistant public defender Matt Phillips.
Hall was serving two life sentences at Tomoka State Prison last June when prosecutors said he ambushed Officer Donna Fitzgerald and repeatedly stabbed her with a knife that he had fashioned while working in a vocational center at the prison.
The state has long said death is the only appropriate punishment for someone serving life, despite an argument by the defense that death goes above and beyond.
"That's my first rebuttal to Mr. Phillips' argument, is that it's not an enhanced penalty," said assistant state attorney Leah Case. "That is the maximum penalty for first-degree murder -- death."
Hall's defense also found fault with a simple majority when it came to the jury recommending death.
"Florida statute is the only one that doesn't require a unanimous verdict by a jury," Phillips said. "You know, 12-0, death penalty should be imposed."
Judge David Walsh denied motions challenging a possible death sentence for Hall if he's convicted, but the judge did agree to give the defense more time to prepare.
The trial will not go on in January or February. At this point, the judge has set the week of March 16 for the start of trial, but with the complexity of this case that is far from certain.
There could be more delays, attorneys said. The next pre-trial hearing to check progress on the Hall case is set for Feb. 24.