Supreme Court To Hear Nine Mile Popeye’s Murder Case

April 30, 2016

The Florida Supreme Court will hear arguments Thursday in a high-profile case that forced an overhaul of the state’s death-penalty sentencing system.

The case involves Timothy Lee Hurst, who was sentenced to death for the 1998 killing of fast-food worker Cynthia Harrison in Pensacola. Harrison, an assistant manager at a Nine Mile Road Popeye’s Fried Chicken restaurant where Hurst worked, was bound, gagged and stabbed more than 60 times. Her body was found in a freezer.

Hurst was the plaintiff in a legal challenge that led to the U.S. Supreme Court finding in January that Florida’s death-penalty sentencing system was unconstitutional because it gave too much power to judges, instead of juries. State lawmakers and Gov. Rick Scott quickly approved changes to the system to try to resolve the constitutional issues.

The arguments Thursday are expected to focus on Hurst’s contention that the Florida Supreme Court should order that he receive a life sentence, instead of facing execution.

In briefs, Hurst’s attorneys have raised a series of arguments related to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, including that Hurst received the death sentence under what was an unconstitutional process.

“The constitutional defect in Hurst’s death sentence is that the judge, rather than a jury, determined ‘each fact necessary to impose a sentence of death,’ ” said part of a brief filed last month, quoting the U.S. Supreme Court. But Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office has argued in court papers that the Florida Supreme Court should reject Hurst’s request for a life sentence, in part contending that any error in his death sentence was “harmless.”


17 Responses to “Supreme Court To Hear Nine Mile Popeye’s Murder Case”

  1. Ken Guier on May 2nd, 2016 3:42 pm

    If you are convicted of such an egregious crime, 60 stab wounds you have no sympathy from me. Put him in front of a firing squad and let them handle the matter or put him in the death chamber and let him leave this world. We are not dealing with a human being here, we are dealing with a beast

  2. gregg on May 2nd, 2016 2:15 pm

    I’ll volunteer for his rifle squad.

  3. Bob's Brother on May 1st, 2016 8:22 am

    I remember a year or so ago that Florida executed an inmate who’d been on death row for 27 years. While I agree that a convict should have rights of appeal, no properly convicted inmate should be on death row more than 4 or 5 years. The victims familes should have that right. If it takes legislation, it should be debated and voted upon. If it takes a ballot vote on election day, it should be petitioned and put to the people for a vote. No more 27 years on death row for anyone.

  4. Mike on May 1st, 2016 2:17 am

    I agree, juries should get the whole story. Any lawyer caught trying to cover up ANY detail should face perjury charges. To suggest that evidence of his heinous crime should be kept from the jury to protect this “person” (not my classification of him, mind you) is not acceptable (to put it lightly). :mad:

  5. David Huie Green on April 30th, 2016 8:10 pm

    by the way, normally, the jury is to decide guilt or innocence.
    Having decided guilt, the judge has historically been the one to decide the proper sentence.
    The problem is that judges get used to horrible things and treat them more lightly than normal people.
    Usually, the guilty are better off than they would be if they faced a truly informed jury.

    David for truly informed juries

  6. David Huie Green on April 30th, 2016 8:06 pm

    “Any error in his death sentence was “harmless”. Did I read that right? I don’t call a death sentence harmless. That woman needs to go back to school.”

    No, you didn’t read it right.
    You think sentencing him to death for what he did was the error.
    She is saying the process which was in effect at the time was not in error in saying he needed to die even if the process was flawed.
    People make errors in grammar, in spelling, in expressing thoughts even though the words and thoughts are correct.

    The whole problem lies in figuring how much of the process to give to the jury and how much to give to the judge. The legislature gave more to the judge than the judiciary believed they should have. The judiciary believed the jury should have been given more information regarding the true cruelty of the crime so they could judge how horrible he was in his actions. At other times the judiciary believes the jury should be excluded from information they believe might prejudice them to be harsher in sentencing than otherwise.

    The truth of the matter is that many in the judiciary dislike the imposition of the death penalty and the fact that it is written into the Constitution and will use any means necessary to slow it down and then point to its ineffectiveness after they finished gutting it so they can call it unConstitutional.

    David for better justice

  7. Mike on April 30th, 2016 4:21 pm

    This is Ludicrous he decided that she had to die when he had no right to.
    Now they are trying to say that he should get life. He will get 3 meals a day,
    Heathcare, yard time, and among many other things like have
    Family visit. She lost her life and cannot do any of these things anymore.
    And her family has to suffer as well. He stabbed her 60+ times and put her
    In a freezer like she was nothing. Justice needs to be served people say
    That it’s not right to execute him cause of morals where where his morals
    When he killed Cynthia Harrison.

  8. Mike on April 30th, 2016 3:29 pm

    The jury originally recommended the death penalty, that should be the deciding factor. That he deserves the death penalty should not even be on the table, due to the aggravating circumstances.

    I just wish they still had the chair, that sponge could stay dry. :mad:

  9. Jerry K on April 30th, 2016 2:29 pm

    The problem I see is lawyers that will take any stand. Their work has NOTHING to do with just only $$$$$$$$

  10. Clad in Shadows on April 30th, 2016 2:27 pm

    I never comment on here, but this is insanity… Think of all the money the state has poured into keeping this walking scum fed and clothed in prison. Who on Earth honestly believes this man deserves to continue breathing? Once he was found guilty they should have sent him to the guillotine, and that would have been justice served. Another gorgeous example of pieces of complete trash with no regard for human life , or their families, being allowed the chance to argue that they deserve to live and let the state pay for them to rot away in prison. Please God, don’t let this trash have a chance at a longer life than he has already been given…

  11. Reform to swift capital punishment on April 30th, 2016 1:39 pm

    The laws to have the death penalty are being process to happen sooner in Florida are being addressed. Juries will have to vote guilty. Gov Scott passed a bill to speed it up and Matt Gaetz said, God can judge but we can arrange the meeting. I see the only way to accomplish an express lane is by legislature. The Florida supreme court dragging its feet to readdress people already on death row saying it may be unconstitutional. It is ridiculous and wrong. I suppose we have to write them and let them know to carry out the sentences. It was only in the 1940 when citizens would be paid $140 to wear a black hood and be able to carry out the sentence. It is important to remove these violent criminals, put them to death right away.

  12. anne on April 30th, 2016 1:30 pm

    Any error in his death sentence was “harmless”. Did I read that right? I don’t call a death sentence harmless. That woman needs to go back to school.

  13. Betty Hinote on April 30th, 2016 10:41 am

    Sad that this has dragged on for almost 20 years at taxpayers expense. Her murder was brutal and horrific totally unlike his death would be by a needle. I wish karma would have found him in prison and he was already 6 feet under.

  14. DW on April 30th, 2016 9:41 am

    If the general public could view the crime scene photos from this case, most would be horrified to even imagine a man who did the things this man did to that woman would still be alive much less fighting a death sentence. To say he killed Cynthia Harrison is quite an understatement. I know there is a need for defense attorneys so we may always maintain a system of checks and balances in our judicial system, but I do not know how a man or woman with access to the evidence in this case could speak a word in defense of this man, and sleep one night feeling as if they were serving anyone’s best interest.

  15. Disgusted on April 30th, 2016 8:43 am

    Really!!!!!! Somebody that can stab somebody 60x and put them in the deep freezer, and think they don’t think they deserve to die also. Give me a break. The system thinks it’s inhumane to inject the piece of crap. They ought to been the innocent victim in the crime and seen if that was inhumane!!! No nothing wrong with our justice system, go figure. The public pre-tender that defended that piece of garbage ought to serving time with hm. If out right kill somebody you ought to be killed the se way. I am just saying. Save a whole lot of money and we wouldn’t be near as far in debt!!!

  16. Dan on April 30th, 2016 8:05 am

    The only injustice is the fact that he hasn’t been executed already!

  17. Suzanne F. on April 30th, 2016 3:29 am

    I remember this case well. I was a manager at the KFC down the road on Nine Mile at Hwy 29 ( now the Shrimp Basket.) It was definitely the topic of discussion for the crew and customers alike.
    My prayers go out to the family of Cynthia Harrison while they await the decision of the Supreme Court.

Have a comment on this story?

We welcome your comments on this story, but there are some rules to follow::

(1) Be Nice. No comments that slander another, no racism, no sexism, no personal attacks.

(2) No Harrassing Comments. If someone says something bad about you, don't respond. That's childish.

(3) No Libel. That's saying something is not true about someone. Don't do it.

(4) Keep it clean. Nothing vulgar, obscene or sexually related. No profanity or obvious substitutions. Period.

(5) reserves the right to remove any comments that violate our rules or we think to be inappropriate. We are not responsible for what is posted. Comments may not appear right away until they are approved by a moderator.

(6) Limit your comments to the subject in this story only, and limit comments to 300 words or less. Do not post copyrighted material. Comments will not be added to stories that are over 30 days old.

(7) No posts may advertise a commercial business or political group, or link to another commercial web site or political site of any kind.