Hillsborough State Attorney considers death penalty in Seminole Heights murders

Hillsborough State Attorney considers death penalty in Seminole Heights case

Should the Seminole Heights serial killer be executed if convicted?

On Thursday, Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren was asked whether he would seek the death penalty in the case.

Warren said his decision would have a lot to do with what the victims' families have to say.

“In the eleven months I've been in office, we have had the death penalty on three cases,” said Warren, whose record shows he has been less eager to pursue the death penalty than his longtime predecessor.

So what will he do in the case of the Seminole Heights serial killer?

“If, after determination of the factors in this case, it meets the legal requirements for under the death penalty and it is consistent with what the victims’ families want, we will seek the death penalty,” he said.

Those determining factors, according to the law, also include a defendant's age and how depraved his conscience was during the crime.

Warren says he met with the victims’ relatives Thursday morning. “But, my conversations with the victims’ families is between the victims’ families at myself,” he said.

When 10News spoke some with relatives Wednesday, like Monica Hoffa's Uncle Robert, they made their feelings clear.

“He needs to be put to death,” said Hoffa.

 But Tina Felton, whose brother Ronald was the fourth and most recent victim, was more philosophical. 

“It really doesn't matter. He's gone. They can't bring him back. Money won't bring him back. Them talking about it isn't going to bring him back,” she said, “But Justice needs to prevail. It really does. Because it's too many people.”

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn was less measured than Warren in his assessment. 

“I think at the end of this if he is found to be guilty, he should die. It's that simple,” said Buckhorn.

But for Warren, who promised when he ran for state attorney that he would apply the death penalty fairly, consistently and rarely - the decision even in this case, may not be that simple.

“I will evaluate all of the aggravating and mitigating evidence in this case to determine whether there is a legal basis to seek the death penalty,” said Warren.

Warren says before that decision is even considered, the case first has to go to the grand jury. Warren says his office will be seeking an indictment on four counts of first-degree murder.

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