Sunday, October 11, 2009

Jury recommends death for convicted killer

The Associated Press

A Treasure Coast jury has recommended that a judge return a man to death row after his second conviction for killing a woman in 2002.

The St. Lucie County jury voted 9-3 on Friday for the execution of Andrew Michael Gosciminski, 56. The same jury found him guilty Wednesday of first-degree murder, robbery and burglary in the 2002 brutal slaying of Joan Loughman, 55.

Circuit Judge Robert Belanger will make the final decision on Gosciminski's sentence at a Nov. 6 hearing, but state law dictates that he give the jury's recommendation significant weight.

After court, jury foreman Tavoris Ingram said he had no doubt Gosciminski deserved death.

"I was pushing for a 12 and 0 for the death penalty," he told Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers. "I just felt it was a heinous crime, the way he did it and how he did it."

Gosciminski met Loughman through an assisted-living facility where Gosciminski worked and Loughman's father was a patient. Gosciminski had planned to steal $40,000 worth of jewelry, particularly a 2-carat diamond ring that has never been recovered, prosecutors said.

Gosciminski attacked the woman Sept. 24, 2002, at her father's home, where Gosciminski beat her, stabbed her and cut her throat, prosecutors said.

Gosciminski had already been convicted and sentenced to death in 2005, but the Florida Supreme Court threw out the conviction last year and ordered a new trial. The high court ruled some evidence during his 2005 trial had been improperly admitted.

Gosciminski's attorney, Chief Assistant Public Defender Mark Harllee, said his client is optimistic about his chances on another appeal with the Florida Supreme Court. The appeal will likely focus on the overall lack of direct evidence, the attorney said.

"It was a total circumstantial evidence case," Harllee said.

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