Death Sentence After Firing Penalty Phase Lawyer
In Muhammad v. State, 782 So. 2d 343 (Fla.), cert. denied, 534 U.S. 836, 122 S. Ct. 87, 151 L. Ed. 2d 49 (2001), and cert. denied, 534 U.S. 944, 122 S. Ct. 323, 151 L. Ed. 2d 241 (2001), the defendant Muhammad discharged his penalty phase counsel and did not present any mitigating evidence.
In its instructions to the penalty phase jury, the trial court stated that "your advisory sentence as to what sentence should be imposed on this Defendant is entitled by Law and will be given great weight by this Court in determining what sentence to impose in this case." Id. at 363 n.9.
Thereafter the jury returned a recommended sentence of death.
At the sentencing hearing, the trial court considered mitigating circumstances contained in the presentence investigation report which were not presented to the jury.
The trial court imposed a death sentence indicating in its sentencing order that "this Court must give great weight to the jury's sentencing recommendation." Id. at 362.
This Court reversed for a new penalty phase and found that "the trial court erred when it gave great weight to the jury's recommendation in light of Muhammad's refusal to present mitigating evidence and the failure of the trial court to provide for an alternative means for the jury to be advised of available mitigating evidence." Id. at 361-62.