St. Petersburg Times Online: News of Florida
Place an Ad Calendars Classified Forums Sports Weather
  • Tooling around
  • Missing boy found; mother is arrested
  • Appellate court calls castration sentence illegal

  • From the state wire

  • Hurricane Jeanne appears on track to hit Florida's east coast
  • Rumor mill working overtime after Florida hurricanes
  • Developments associated with Hurricanes Ivan and Jeanne
  • Four killed in Panhandle plane crash were on Ivan charity mission
  • Hurricane Frances caused estimated $4.4 billion in insured damage
  • Disabled want more handicapped-accessible voting machines
  • USF forces administrators to resign over test score changes
  • Man's death at Universal Studios ruled accidental
  • State child welfare workers in Miami fail to do background checks
  • Hurricane Jeanne heads toward southeast U.S. coast
  • Hurricane Jeanne spurs more anxiety for storm-weary Floridians
  • Mistrial declared in case where teen was target of racial "joke"
  • Panhandle utility wants sewer plant moved to higher ground
  • State employee arrested on theft, bribery charges
  • Homestead house fire kills four children, one adult
  • Pierson leader tries to cut off relief to local fern cutters
  • Florida's high court rules Terri's law unconstitutional
  • Jacksonville students punished for putting stripper pole in dorm
  • FEMA handling nearly 600,000 applications for help
  • Man who killed wife, niece, self also killed mother in 1971
  • Producer sues city over lead ball fired by Miami police
  • Tourism suffers across Florida after pummeling by hurricanes
  • Key dates in the life of Terri Schiavo
  • An excerpt from the unanimous ruling in the Schiavo case
  • Four confirmed dead after small plane crash in Panhandle
  • Correction: Disney-Cruise Line story

    printer version

    Appellate court calls castration sentence illegal

    The penalty against a sex offender must be overturned because it is not included in state law, judges rule.

    ©Associated Press
    February 9, 2003

    TALLAHASSEE -- Judges cannot sentence sex offenders to be surgically castrated because there is no provision in state law for the penalty, an appellate court ruled.

    A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal on Thursday unanimously reversed the castration sentence of Paul Bruno.

    Three years ago, the 35-year-old Fort Walton Beach man pleaded no contest to four counts of committing a lewd and lascivious act on a child. He was accused of fondling a girl during a two-year period starting when she was 6 years old.

    As part of a deal with prosecutors, he was sentenced to 15 years and eight months in prison. He also agreed to be castrated in exchange for a fifth count being dropped; he had faced a sentence of more than 21 years on that charge.

    "An illegal sentence cannot be imposed, even as part of a negotiated plea agreement," District Judge Robert T. Benton II wrote for the panel.

    The appellate court found that neither surgical nor chemical castration is allowed by state law for a lewd or lascivious act and, therefore, Bruno's sentence cannot be enforced. Chemical castration is permitted for sexual battery, but Bruno was not charged with that crime.

    Assistant State Attorney David Fleet, who prosecuted Bruno, declined to comment Friday because he had yet to read the opinion.

    Where the case heads next is unclear. Benton wrote that prosecutors could agree to a resentencing or withdraw the plea bargain and take the case to trial.

    The court also found merit to Bruno's claim that he agreed to the deal only because his attorneys mistakenly told him that he would get no more than 10 years. If the plea agreement is not shelved, Bruno should get an evidentiary hearing on that issue, the panel said.

    Back to State news
    Back to Top

    © 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
    490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111
    Special Links
    Lucy Morgan

    From the Times state desk