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Florida lawmakers push to speed up death penalty process

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Posted: Tuesday, April 30, 2013 9:59 pm | Updated: 9:06 pm, Mon May 27, 2013.

SARASOTA COUNTY-- Florida lawmakers in the House and Senate have agreed that the state needs to speed up its death penalty process. Now, Governor Rick Scott will have to decide if he feels that way.

The Timely Justice Act will speed up the death penalty process by implementing tighter time frames for appeals and post conviction motions. The average amount of time it takes for a death row inmate to be executed in Florida is 13 years. There are currently more than 400 inmates on death row in the state, the second highest in the nation.

Nathan Lee knows first hand how lengthy the process can be. In 2009, Michael King was sentenced to death for the murder of Lee's wife, Denise. Four years later, he remains behind bars at the Union Correctional Institution.

"The fact that he is still here bothers me," said Lee. "The sooner it happens, the better. This is not something I want my kids to have to go through when they are older."

Darren Finebloom, a criminal defense attorney in Sarasota, says he has a hard time agreeing with speeding up the process. Finebloom cites the possibility of new evidence being discovered. In the past, some death row inmates have been exonerated when that happens.

"Patience is a virtue. When we are dealing with things of this nature, if there is a mistake made, there is no going back. I think it is pretty safe to say that we probably have executed some innocent people in this country," said Finebloom.

It's unclear if Governor Scott will sign the legislation.

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