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Judge says no death penalty in Titusville murder case

William Woodward to stand trial next week

VIERA, Fla. – Upholding a recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that Florida's death penalty law is unconstitutional, Brevard County Circuit Judge James Earp ruled Tuesday that next week's William Woodward murder trial will not be a death penalty case.

"We do not have in place a constitutional death penalty scheme," Earp said. "It was unconstitutional yesterday and it is unconstitutional today. The only sentence that can be imposed on William Woodard -- if convicted of murder -- (is) life in prison."

Defense attorney Greg Eisenmenger praised the judge's decision, saying he never felt it was a death penalty case to begin with but instead a matter of self-defense.

Woodward, 47, faces two charges of first-degree premeditated murder with a firearm and one charge of attempted first-degree murder in the deaths of Gary Hembree and Roger Picior and the wounding of Bruce "Tim" Blake on Labor Day weekend in 2012, according to authorities.

Video surveillance over several weeks, including the night of the shootings, shows systematic bullying, taunting and threats toward Woodward, who is seen sneaking from his Titusville home in camouflage to go shoot his neighbors, Florida Today reported.

His attorneys unsuccessfully tried to use the stand your ground defense last year.

The trial is scheduled to begin Monday.


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