Sonny Boy Oats Found Ineligible for the Death Penalty After 40 Years on Florida’s Death Row

April 20, 2021 After more than 40 years on Florida’s death row, Sonny Boy Oats,  one of the nation’s longest serving death-row prisoners, has been found ineligible for the death penalty. On April 2, 2021, a Marion County trial court vacated Oats’ death sentence and resentenced him to life in prison, accepting a stipulation between prosecutors and the defense that Oats is intellectually disabled. In February 2020, Ric Ridgway, Chief Assistant in the Florida Fifth Circuit State Attorney’s office, advised Circuit Judge Steven Rogers that prosecutors would not contest Oats’ claim of intellectual disability, after eight of nine mental health experts who had evaluated Oats concluded he is intellectually disabled. With the consent of the parties, the court delayed resentencing Oats for more than a year because of coronavirus-related health concerns. Rogers’ order indicated that the court “proceeded with the resentencing at this time, given the understanding that the Defendant has requested and will soon receive a COVID-19 vaccine.” Once he is vaccinated, Oats will be removed from death-row isolated confinement. Read More:




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