More delays could be possible in the case of a man accused of gunning down his estranged wife at a Cape Coral day care more than three years ago.
David Brener, defense attorney for Robert Dunn, argued Thursday that, given a recent ruling by a Miami federal judge declaring Florida’s death penalty unconstitutional, the Dunn case should be either put on hold or the possibility of the death penalty eliminated.
With the state’s attorney general planning to ask the Miami judge to reconsider the ruling, Brener said the judge in the Dunn case should at least wait to see what the implications might be.
Assistant State Attorney Bob Lee, however, argued the ruling in the Miami case was specific to the facts of that case, and doesn’t mean all death penalty cases — Dunn’s included — should be thrown out.
Circuit Judge Margaret Steinbeck decided she would take both arguments under consideration and issue a written ruling at a later date.
The Dunn case had been slated for trial Nov. 7, but earlier this week was pushed back until next year.
“I’m not looking to delay this case further for the sake of delaying it,” Brener said. “But we have to remember a man’s life is on the line, and that has to be balanced so we’re not back here arguing this 15 years from now.”
Dunn, 47, is accused of killing Christine Lozier-Dunn, 36, at Bobbie Noonan’s Child Care in front of children, as she huddled with them in a bathroom, on Jan. 25, 2008.
At the heart of the Miami case, Brener said, is the fact Florida juries don’t have to unanimously — or even have a majority — agree on any one aggravating factor, such as the heinousness of a crime or the number of people affected. At least one aggravated factor is required in order for someone to be eligible for the death penalty.
So, for example, five jurors could agree the crime was especially cold and calculated, while two others could believe the victim was especially vulnerable. There would be a majority agreeing to aggravating factors, but not necessarily a majority agreeing on the same factors.