POLK COUNTY, Fla. - All it took was a signature and just like that, Leon Davis waived his right to a jury trial and instead chose to leave his fate solely in the hands of Judge Donald Jacobsen.
That choice caught most everyone off guard. Davis apparently made that decision just Monday morning.
Earlier in the morning, 150 jurors shuffled into a courtroom, beginning what was expected to be a possible three-week jury selection process.
But Circuit Judge Donald Jacobsen would inform them, "Leon Davis, after a long discussion with me, with his lawyers, has chosen to give up his right to a trial by jury and to be tried by me alone."
Davis is on trial for the execution-style murder of two clerks at a BP gas station near Lake Alfred in December, 2007.
Davis is currently on death row, based on a previous conviction for the brutal murders of two women in a Lake Wales insurance office. He tied them down with duct tape, doused them with gas, and then set them on fire during a robbery, also in December, 2007. A case the judge is familiar with.
So why then would Davis push to waive his right to a jury trial, where -- theoretically -- jurors would know nothing about the previous case?
Davis' attorney Robert Norgard would not specifically answer that question, but he did say there were advantages to a bench trial, "The emotional aspects of a case are something that is harder for a jury to deal with than a judge. The judge sees this every day."
But Norgard would add, he himself, prefers a trial by jury, and for one main reason, "Two heads are better than one. I think 12 heads are better than one by 12."
Judge and jury of one will now hear the case when it begins Tuesday, September 18 at 9:00 a.m.
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Plenty of sunshine with high humidity, but low chances for an afternoon shower or storm inland.