State Attorney: Judge in McBride Case Kept State from Due Process | Crime

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State Attorney: Judge in McBride Case Kept State from Due Process
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State Attorney: Judge in McBride Case Kept State from Due Process

GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. -- State Attorney Angela Corey has attacked a judge's decision to spare the life of a Middleburg man who killed his ex-girlfriend and buried her in the backyard.

The State Attorney's office filed a notice of objection in the case against Kenneth McBride. He strangled Roberta Laws in 2009.

Jurors voted 8 to 4 to recommend the death penalty for McBride but Judge John Skinner went against the jury's recommendation and instead sentenced McBride to life in prison.

Corey argued that McBride was previously convicted of custodial sexual battery, a capital felony, and had been designated a sexual predator. 


Laws' murder was "heinous atrocious and cruel," Corey furthered, and the crime was committed in a "cold, calculated, and premeditated manner."

In addition, Corey pointed out that Skinner's instructions to the jury stated that "the jury recommendation must be given great weight and deference by the Court." But Corey argued that Skinner basically dismissed their recommendation on the spot.

After the jury was polled, Corey claimed that Skinner released the jurors without properly discharging them.

At that point, attorneys for both sides were prepared to set a date to hold a "spencer hearing," a hearing that would allow both sides to present arguments regarding McBride's sentencing. 

But after a conflict of availability between the attorneys, Corey said Skinner indicated he was prepared to impose a life sentence. Corey said Skinner called the proposed hearing "a waste of time," then offered to set the hearing for a date that the assistant state attorney handling the case had already said he was not available for.

That's when Skinner asked the attorneys to step back, and promptly sentenced McBride to life, Corey said. She explained that the span of time between the jury's recommendation and the court imposing the sentence was six minutes.

Skinner has not been available for comment.


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