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New Sentencing Ordered In Daytona Beach Samurai Sword Murder

Daytona Beach, FL – A Death Row inmate accused of using a samurai sword in the 1991 murder of a man in a Daytona Beach motel room should be resentenced because a jury was not unanimous in recommending the death penalty, the Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

The Supreme Court unanimously upheld the first-degree murder conviction of James Guzman, now 53, who was arrested in the slaying of David Colvin. But justices vacated the death sentence and sent the case back to circuit court for a new sentencing proceeding.

The ruling, like numerous others in recent months, was rooted in a 2016 U.S. Supreme Court opinion in a case known as Hurst v. Florida and a subsequent Florida Supreme Court decision. The 2016 U.S. Supreme Court opinion found Florida’s death-penalty sentencing system was unconstitutional because it gave too much authority to judges, instead of juries. The subsequent Florida Supreme Court decision said juries must unanimously agree on critical findings before judges can impose death sentences and must unanimously recommend the death penalty.

In Guzman’s case, the jury recommended the death penalty in an 11-1 vote. Guzman was accused of fatally stabbing Colvin as part of a robbery. A twisted and bent samurai sword was found in the motel room. While no blood or fingerprints were found on the sword, a medical examiner testified that the sword was consistent with the wounds suffered by Colvin, according to the Supreme Court ruling.

(Guzman’s mugshot courtesy the Volusia County Jail)

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