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Florida high court tosses convicted killer's death sentence

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) - The Florida Supreme Court has overturned the death sentence of a man convicted of a double slaying due to inadequate representation.

The Florida Times-Union reports that the court overturned Thomas Bevel's sentence on Thursday.

Bevel was convicted in the 2004 killings of a Garrick Stringfield and Stringfield's 13-year-old son, Phillip Sims. Prosecutors said Stringfield dealt drugs with Bevel.

The court ruled that the public defenders who handled Bevel's case did little work investigating mitigating factors, and that was a reason why Bevel should not be executed.

The court determined that if his lawyers had hired a mitigation investigator, they would've discovered evidence of Bevel's brain damage and history of physical and emotional abuse.

The state attorney's office hasn't decided whether it will retry the sentencing phase or settle for a life sentence.