Florida man indicted on charges of sexually abusing child faces death penalty under new law

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Florida man indicted on charges of sexually abusing child faces death penalty under new law

A Florida man indicted on charges of sexually abusing a child faces the death penalty, in what could be the first case of its kind under a new law that expanded capital punishment.

The Fifth Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office announced Thursday that Joseph Andrew Giampa had been indicted on six counts of sexual battery upon a child under the age of 12 and three counts of promoting a sexual performance by a child.

State Attorney William Gladson said his office would seek the death penalty for the alleged crimes because of the “severity of the crime and its impact on the community,” according to a news release.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1977 that the death penalty could not be applied to rape cases because it violated the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Kennedy v. Louisiana that the death penalty was prohibited when the crime did not result in the death of the victim.

But this past spring, Florida lawmakers passed a bill that would allow crimes involving the sexual battery of children to be eligible for the death penalty, the Orlando Sentinel reported. The bill states that the Kennedy v. Louisiana decision “was wrongly decided and an egregious infringement of the states’ power to punish the most heinous of crimes.”

Giampa, 36, of Leesburg, was arrested in November. A police officer said he viewed a video of a man identified as Giampa sexually abusing a young boy, according to an arrest affidavit.

Gladson said his decision reflected “the gravity of the charges and the State Attorney’s Office’s dedication to holding criminals accountable for their actions.”

“The State Attorney’s Office acknowledges the sensitivity of this matter and the impact it has on the community. Our commitment to ensuring justice and protecting the vulnerable remains unwavering,” he said in a news release.

Court documents list four reasons prosecutors believe the death penalty is warranted, including Giampa’s past capital felony conviction, and that the alleged current crime was “especially heinous, atrocious and cruel” and was committed “for pecuniary gain.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis backed Gladson.

“It will be the first case to challenge SCOTUS since I signed legislation to make pedophiles eligible for the death penalty,” he said in a statement on Facebook. “The State’s Attorney has my full support.”

Giampa’s attorney, Morris Dagoberto Carranza, could not immediately be reached on Saturday.

Minyvonne Burke

Minyvonne Burke is a senior breaking news reporter for NBC News.

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