Luis Toledo murder trial on hold

- The murder trial of Central Florida man accused of killing his wife and her two children is on hold until the fall.  This October will mark three years since Luis Toledo's wife and her two children disappeared from Detlona.   

Toledo is charged with the murder of Yessenia Suarez, 28, Michael Otto, 8, and Thalia Otto, 9, even though their bodies have never been found.  They disappeared in 2013 and are presumed dead.  Detectives said Toledo confessed to killing his wife, but he has denied killing her children.

Toledo's trial was set to begin in January in St. Augustine.  A Volusia County judge had granted a motion late last year to have Toledo's trial moved from DeLand to St. Johns County, because of media coverage in the Orlando area.   But the trial was delayed following a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court declaring Florida's death penalty sentencing procedure unconstitutional, because it gives too much power to judges, not juries.

When the Florida Legislature passed a new law in March to revise the procedure, some thought that it could hold constitutional muster, because it required a unanimous vote by a jury on aggravating factors to consider someone for a death sentence but only takes a 10-2 vote to impose it.

Last week, a Miami-Dade circuit judge declared that the state's new law is unconstitutional, saying it should require a unanimous decision from the jury to impose the death penalty.  Florida's Supreme Court will take up the matter of 10-2 juries next month.

There will be another status hearing in the Toledo case on August 19.


Some information taken from the Associated Press. 

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