TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Florida Supreme Court has ordered a new sentencing hearing for Joseph P. Smith, the man facing execution for the 2004 murder of Carlie Brucia in Sarasota, according to court documents.
Smith, 55, is on death row after being convicted of kidnapping, raping and murdering 11-year-old Brucia, a killing that shook the Tampa Bay area.
Brucia was last seen in Feb. 2004, walking away with Smith from Evie’s Car Wash on Bee Ridge Road. Her body was discovered five days later in the woods behind a church on Proctor Road. In 2005, a jury recommended the death penalty for Smith by a 10-2 vote.
At the time Smith was sentenced, Florida required that the majority of the jury recommend the death sentence. The judge would then issue a ruling based on their recommendation.
But the year after his sentencing, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Florida’s death-penalty system to be unconstitutional because it allowed a judge to override a jury’s recommendation. In Hurst vs. State, the Florida Supreme Court interpreted and applied the U.S. Supreme Court ruling to require that a jury be unanimous in deciding if someone should be sentenced to death and said the decision would apply retroactively to trials from 2002
However, the court abruptly walked back its decision in Jan. 2020 with State v. Poole, which overturned the need for an unanimous jury.
In March, Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office acknowledged in a court filing that Smith should be resentenced due to the developments. On Friday, the Florida Supreme Court said Smith would be resentenced for the crime.
The resentencing will not affect Smith’s conviction.