"One juror noted afterward: 'Someone had to speak up for those two little girls.'" A Florida jury recommended the death penalty, for the second time, for Howard Steven Ault for the murder of DeAnn Mu'min, 11, and her sister, Alicia Jones, 7, Diana Moskovitz and Jennifer Lebovich report for the Miami Herald. Ault's first death sentence was overturned for Witherspoon-Witt error, excluding an anti-death-penalty juror. The Florida Supreme Court opinion is here.
Ault's attorney claimed mental illness, but most of the jurors didn't buy it. " 'He knew what he was doing,' said Daniel Polier, 23, of Parkland."
In a videotaped confession, recorded two days after the murders, Ault said he gained the girls' trust by visiting them at Easterlin Park, where they lived out of a station wagon with a camper with their mother and a younger sister, Nyssa, about 2.
Ault, in a chillingly calm voice, described matter-of-factly how he raped DeAnn on the floor of his Fort Lauderdale living room as Alicia watched helplessly from the couch. When he was done with DeAnn, he smoked a cigarette, then strangled Alicia.
When asked why he killed both children, Ault said: ``I was afraid of getting caught.''
The jury vote was 9-3 for the murder of DeAnn and 10-2 for the murder of Alicia, illustrating once again why jurisdictions with single-juror veto rules need to repeal them immediately.