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Florida Woman Appealed Her Life Sentence For Killing A Taxi Driver 25 Years Ago. She Could Now Be Free In 15 Years.

florida resetnencing
Source: Office of the State's Attorney; MEGA

Jun. 17 2022, Published 2:26 p.m. ET

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A Florida appeals court upheld the conviction of a then 15-year-old who was sentenced to life for the death of a taxi driver.

But, thanks to a supreme court ruling, she could be free in under two decades.

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Last month in Florida, Bay County Circuit Judge Brantley Clark resentenced Rebecca Falcon, 40, to life in prison with the possibility of parole for the shooting death of Richard Phillips. Falcon, convicted of first-degree murder in 1997 and sentenced to life without parole, was granted a motion to be resentenced based on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that deemed a life sentence without the possibility of parole for minors unconstitutional.

On Nov. 19, 1997, Falcon and a friend entered Phillip’s taxi and instructed him to drive into a dark street in Callaway. Florida. Then, the defendant pulled out a gun and fatally shot the victim in the back of the head.

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The motive for the killing remains unclear.


In 2012, the highest court ruled in Miller vs. Alabama on the issue of sentencing a minor to life without parole as cruel and unusual punishment. Hence, the sentence would violate the Eighth and 14th Amendments. In addition, the court ruled that mandatory sentences of life without parole for juveniles had been unconstitutional in its reply.

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One of the appellate judges, in his ruling, stated Falcon had not accepted responsibility for the slaying, and she was still not remorseful, reported WMBB. As a result, the First District Court of Appeals upheld Falcon’s guilty conviction but granted her motion to be resentenced.

Though Clark had the option of sentencing Falcon to time served, he followed suit with the appellate judge’s rationale to uphold the defendant’s conviction and justification for the new sentence in a 20-page written order.

“I am relieved for the surviving family of Mr. Phillips. Having to relive this experience has been extremely hard on them.” said prosecutor, Bob Sombathy.

Falcon will now be eligible for parole 15 years from the date of her new sentence.


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