Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren has withdrawn pursuit of the death penalty in five of 24 cases he inherited when he took over the office in January, The Tampa Bay Times reported. A sixth defendant avoided death row with a guilty plea.
Seventeen of the cases await review.
Only once, so far, has Warren affirmed the prior administration's decision to seek death, although he also elected to seek it once in a more recent case.
"These decisions are the most serious and sobering decisions you make as state attorney," he says. "And it's different academically than it is when you're sitting in a chair as the one to make the decision."
The threat of capital punishment should not be used to coerce guilty pleas, he told the Times. He spoke of seeking death only if defendants exhibit what the Supreme Court has called "a consciousness of guilt materially more depraved."