A Broward County, Florida appellate judge has ruled that state prosecutors can seek the death penalty for Jamell Demons (YNW Melly) if he’s convicted of first degree murder. The ruling came Wednesday, November 9 and Billboard broke the news Thursday afternoon. It arrived four months after a lower court’s opposite ruling on the grounds that the prosecution failed to properly notify Demons’ team of their intent to seek the death penalty against him. Judge Andrew L. Siegel wrote in his opinion this week that “the state complied with its statutory obligations when it filed its notice of intent to seek the death penalty within 45 days of arraignment.”
Siegel concluded his opinion, however, by compelling Florida’s Supreme Court to reassess the applicability of the death penalty in Demons’ case when the trial resumes. “In addition,” he wrote, “we certify the following to the supreme court as a question of great public importance: Whether the filing of a superseding indictment, which adds only a statutory sentencing enhancement, requires re-notice of an already timely filed notice of intent to seek the death penalty?”
In a statement to Pitchfork, Demons’ attorney, Phillip R. Horrowitz, expressed optimism about his client’s case, despite today’s news. “While we are disappointed in the ruling, as you are aware, the appellate court certified a question of ‘great public importance’ to the Florida Supreme Court regarding our position that the death penalty should not apply in this case,” he wrote in an email. “We look forward to our opportunity to argue our position before the justices.”
The FADER has reached out to Horrowitz for further comment.