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Supreme Court vacates death penalty for St. Lucie County cop killer

Gary Morales was shot and killed during a traffic stop in 2013. (WPEC)

A man sent to death row for the murder of St. Lucie County Deputy Sgt. Gary Morales will be re-sentenced.

The Supreme Court of Florida vacated the death sentence of Eriese Alphonso Tisdale on Thursday.

The court wrote in its opinion, "we vacate his death sentence because we cannot conclude that the Hurst error in his case was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt."

In 2015, a jury convicted Tisdale of killing Sgt. Morales during a traffic stop in 2013. Nine of the twelve jurors recommended death for Tisdale.

The judge then handed down the death penalty in April 2016.

However, Florida law changed in January 2016 when the United States Supreme Court ruled 'Florida's sentencing scheme' unconstitutional, according to the 2018 Opinion from the Florida Supreme Court.

Prior to the ruling, a judge could impose a death sentence with a recommendation by at least seven jurors.

After the Supreme Court ruling, the new law required a recommendation of death by at least ten jurors.

The court reaffirmed Tisdale's convictions, and sentences on all the lesser charges and ordered a new penalty phase of trial.

The St. Lucie County Clerk's Office says a re-sentencing date has not been set.


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