Penalty phase for Jonathan Quiles to begin Monday

Happening Monday,jurors will begin hearing testimony in the sentencing phase for convicted murderer, Johnathan Quiles. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against him.

Last week, Quiles was convicted of murdering his pregnant niece, 16-year-old Iyana Sawyer, and her unborn child.

Attorney Gene Nichols says in a typical death penalty phase, jurors will hear testimony from people who will give their reasons for why they feel Quiles’ life should be spared. One thing to remember, the law regarding Florida’s death penalty changed. A unanimous jury recommendation is no longer needed. Now, it’s 8 to 4.

“I expect to see a mini version of the trial with the government being able to put in the evidence that they were unable to put in in trial, which could make it worse for the defendant,” said Nichols.

Nichols who is not associated with the case says jurors will hear testimony that’ll aim to humanize Quiles. 

Family members are expected to testify on Quiles’ behalf. Nichols says mental health could come up.

“Whether or not he has mental health issues, not enough, that rose to the level of being incompetent, or a not guilty by reason of insanity. But if there are mental health issues at play, then the defense is going to put those on,” Nichols said.

Jurors will consider the aggravating factors as laid out by the state. Which include whether the crime was especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel. Or committed in a cold, calculated, or premeditated manner.

“They have to prove one of those aggravating factors by the unanimous verdict. If they do receive a unanimous vote on one of the aggravating factors, then the jury gets to decide whether or not the punishment is going to be death,” said Nichols.

The court will resume Monday morning at 10 am The judge has said he hopes to have both sides close Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning. This way,  the jury could have all day to deliberate.

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