As many of you will recall, Nicholas Lindsey’s resentencing hearing on September 24, 2013 for the murder of a St. Petersburg police officer. By way of background, Nicholas Lindsey was charged and convicted with the shooting of a St. Petersburg police officer on a Sunday evening near Tropicana Fields as the police officer was investigating him for a rash of car burglaries in the area. Unfortunately, this fell approximately two weeks after the murder of two other St. Petersburg police officers who were attempting to serve a warrant on a fugitive named Hydra Lacey. Both these cases made national news as part of a growing trend of unprecedented violence against police officers across our country.
Mr. Lindsey’s case was especially shocking because he was a minor. Ultimately, those of you that followed this case through the pendency of its trial noted that Nicholas Lindsey, a minor, was sentenced to life in prison.
Since his sentencing, the United States Supreme Court has come out with a legal precedent, which forbids criminal courts in this country to sentence a juvenile to life in prison without the possibility of some sort of parole or release. For those of you, that regularly read our blog, you are aware that Florida has since abolished the parole system. As you can imagine, this obviously creates issues and problems with the Supreme Court’s holding. In light of the recent holding, the Pinellas County Public Defender’s office, where I used to work, requested the Court resentence Nicholas Lindsey. He was scheduled to be resentenced. Given the severity of the charges, the resentencing involved the calling of witnesses, including experts, and live testimony.
It is important and worthwhile to note that the United States Supreme Court in their holding relied on scientific evidence that demonstrated that a minor’s brain is not fully developed. They reasoned that their due process was violated in light of such a strict sentence and their failure to fully appreciate the magnitude of their actions.
The Pinellas Public Defender’s office during the sentencing hearing before the judge called witnesses in an attempt to mitigate the sentence. These witnesses included family members, who spoke of what an asset Mr. Lindsey was around the residence, and many other specific facts. These witnesses were intended to provide a human face to Mr. Lindsey, who up to this point has not received much sympathy, from the local community and the Court. It’s also worth noting that members of local law enforcement, including the St. Petersburg Police Department, packed the courtroom as a show of support for the victim and his family.
Ultimately, the Court did not pronounce its sentence, but rather set it off to today. If you have any questions about the sentencing of Mr. Lindsey or the handling of juvenile criminal matters in Florida, contact our office for a free case consultation. We appreciate your time and attention in reading our blog and look forward to working with you in the future. Please check back later this weekend for an update on the hearing from today.