VIERA, Fla – The death penalty will be in play in the upcoming trial of a Brevard County convicted felon.
That was the ruling Friday from a county judge hearing prosecution and defense arguments in the double-murder case of 34-year-old Marcus Royal.
Royal is accused of murdering 81-year-old Faye Jones and 55-year-old Michael Fallon in 2013.
Prosecutors say Royal stabbed Jones to death inside her Cocoa home and then fatally attacked Fallon, who was her neighbor.
Royal is already serving life for violating his probation from a 1993 rape case.
Friday, his defense team requested from a judge a speedy trial for their client without the possibility of a death sentence.
While the judge agreed to start trial in February, he dismissed the notion that the death penalty should be off the table.
"The death penalty as a penalty is a constitutional penalty," said Judge Jim Earp.
The state Supreme Court says Florida's death penalty law, requiring a unanimous decision from a jury to send someone to death row, is constitutional.
Judge Earp accepted that in Friday's hearing.
"We're talking about something that's completely procedural," said the judge.
The defense wanted Royal to face life in prison without parole.
Prosecutors, on the other hand, said they're satisfied to now be building a case calling for death.
"Our role in this is to show them what happened and the circumstances and character issues that he has and then ask a jury is life enough in this case or is this so bad he should be executed," state attorney Bill Respess told News 6 following the hearing.