CLAY COUNTY, Fla. — Update, 2/22/2023: The jury does not recommend the death penalty for Michael Renard Jackson.
His sentencing and a motion for a new trial will be heard on March 13.
On Tuesday, jurors began the process of deciding if a Clay County man should again be sentenced to death.
On Saturday, jurors found Michael Renard Jackson guilty of raping and murdering 25-year-old Andrea Boyer in 2007. It happened moments after she showed up for work at an Orange Park animal clinic.
In 2010, the a jury found Jackson guilty on both counts of rape and murder, and a judge sentenced him to death.
Then, the Florida Supreme Court overturned his conviction, arguing a video of his interrogation prejudiced the jury.
In this sentencing phase, the jury must unanimously recommend the death penalty, and decide whether the prosecution has proved at least one aggravating factor, or circumstance, beyond a reasonable doubt.
These are the four aggravating factors the prosecution is presenting in this case:
(1) The capital felony (in this case, murder) was committed while the defendant was engaged in sexual battery.
The prosecuting attorney reminded jurors they had already found Jackson guilty of rape and murder.
(2) The capital felony was committed by a person previously convicted of a felony.
Jackson had previously been convicted of raping a 14-year-old girl when he was 16.
(3) The capital felony was committed by a person on felony probation
Jackson was serving probation for the previous rape at the time of Boyer’s murder.
(4) The capital felony was especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel.
A prosecuting attorney argued Boyer’s death was especially heinous as he recounted evidence from Boyer’s autopsy in which the medical examiner determined there were two causes of death: strangulation and blunt force trauma. The evidence indicates Jackson strangled Boyer and beat her repeatedly with a fire extinguisher.
The 12-person jury will have to weigh these circumstances based on evidence.
However, on Tuesday morning, the jury also got to learn about Boyer through victim impact statements from those who knew her best. While jurors were instructed not to include these statements as they weigh their decision, they added perspective as to who Boyer was as a person.
Jurors heard from Boyer’s sister and her sister-in-law about the positive influence she had on their lives, and how she is still deeply missed.
“She was fearless,” said Amber Cochlin, Andrea’s older sister said in the courtroom. She read her statement through tears, reflecting on the adventures they experienced together while moving across the country, and how they were “joined at the hip.”
“I admired her and I loved her,” said Heather Rich, Boyer’s sister-in-law. She recounted how she had cherished Boyer, who was married to her brother, as the sister she had always wanted. Rich said she was a senior in high school at the time of the murder, and that this tragedy drastically altered her family, causing them to live in a state of constant vigilance when it comes to their surroundings.
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A prosecuting attorney also read a victim impact statement written by Boyer’s late father, in which he detailed his daughter’s generosity and kindness. She was the youngest of three daughters, nicknamed The Funny, because of the smile he says she always put on his face.
The jury also heard from defense witnesses, including Jackson’s mother, a psychologist, and a toxicologist who described how Jackson’s mother used drugs while she was pregnant, that Jackson had also used them while growing up, and how that can affect a person’s behavioral dysfunction.
This sentencing phase is expected to conclude on Wednesday.