Joseph Giampa (Lake County Sheriff’s Office)
In a first for the state of Florida, prosecutors in the Sunshine State will be pursuing capital punishment against a man accused of raping a child where no death occurred under a new law that runs counter to the U.S. Supreme Court’s current Eight and Fourteenth Amendment precedent.
The Fifth Judicial Circuit State Attorney Office on Thursday filed court documents stating its intent to seek the death penalty against 36-year-old Joseph Andrew Giampa, who was indicted by a grand jury on six counts of sexual battery on a child under age 12 and three counts of promoting a sexual performance of a child.
According to a news release from the state attorney’s office, prosecutors want to put Giampa to death due to “the severity of the crime and its impact on the community.”
The notice filed in Lake County Circuit Court lists numerous aggravating factors, which prosecutors say implore the state to seek the death penalty. Such factors include that the crime was committed for “pecuniary gain,” it was “especially heinous,” the victim was “particularly vulnerable,” and Giampa had previously been convicted of a violent felony.
“The decision to pursue the highest penalty reflects the gravity of the charges and the State Attorney’s Office’s dedication to holding criminals accountable for their actions,” State Attorney William “Bill” Gladson said in a statement. “The State Attorney’s Office acknowledges the sensitivity of this matter and the impact it has on the community. Our commitment to ensuring justice and protecting the vulnerable remains unwavering.”
According to a probable cause affidavit obtained by Law&Crime, authorities responded on Nov. 2 to Giampa’s home about a possible sexual battery. Once there, deputies detained Giampa. In his camper, deputies said there was a computer with a video showing an adult sexually assaulting a child under 12.
After the sexual assault, the assailant who was recording the attack “set the camera down” and then “walked in front of the camera.” Authorities said the adult male in the recording was Giampa.
Giampa then sexually assaulted the juvenile several more times as the video continued before exiting the room as “the juvenile victim begins cleaning up in view of the camera.”
The case is certain to pose constitutional challenges as the legislation adopted and signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis earlier this year is patently contra to the Supreme Court’s 2008 case Kennedy v. Louisiana, which prohibits the death penalty as punishment “where no life was taken in the commission of the crime.”
“Based both on consensus and our own independent judgment, our holding is that a death sentence for one who raped but did not kill a child, and who did not intend to assist another in killing the child, is unconstitutional under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments,” the court wrote in a 5-4 opinion.
Of the four justices who dissented — Samuel Alito, John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas — three are still on the court, while all five of those who voted in the majority have been replaced, predominantly by justices whose overall judicial ideology is far more right-leaning.
The legislation’s text explicitly states that the high court’s earlier rulings on death penalty prohibitions were “wrongly decided and that such cases are an egregious infringement of the states’ power to punish the most heinous of crimes.”
DeSantis already released a statement indicating his intent to take the case up with the justices.
“Today, the State’s Attorney for the Fifth Judicial Circuit announced that they will seek the death penalty in a case of sexual battery against a child under age 12,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “It will be the first case to challenge SCOTUS (U.S. Supreme Court) since I signed legislation to make pedophiles eligible for the death penalty. The State’s Attorney has my full support.”
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