Timothy Lee Hurst has been on Florida's death row for more than a decade, but he says his sentence was unconstitutional—and now the Supreme Court has agreed to hear him out.
Hurst was convicted of first-degree murder in the grisly death of a woman he worked with at a Popeye's restaurant. She was found in the store's freezer, bound, gagged, and stabbed at least 60 times with a box cutter. The store's safe had been emptied.
According to court records, two of Hurst's friends testified that he had admitted to the crime. One of them helped him hide his bloody clothes, the stolen money, and the victim's driver's license. A jury deliberated for roughly six hours before convicting Hurst of first-degree murder and recommending the death penalty.
At a second sentencing hearing, though, his lawyers argued that he is mentally disabled—which would mean he could not be sentenced to death.
His mother drank heavily during her pregnancy, according to court records, and a doctor testified that there was widespread damage to Hurst's brain. Family members said he was slow to develop and had trouble speaking, taking care of himself, and completing simple tasks.
That second sentencing hearing still produced a death sentence. But Hurst's lawyers have appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, arguing that the way Florida administers death sentences is unconstitutional.