Death Penalty Vacated For Clearwater Killer

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (970 WFLA) –  A former personal trainer convicted of killing a Clearwater couple in 2006 is no longer a death row inmate.

The Florida Supreme Court has vacated the death sentence of Richard Robards, 50, saying his conviction violated the Sixth Amendment.

The ruling was based on the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, Hurst v. Florida, which said Florida's previous sentencing scheme allowing a judge to issue the final punishment was unconstitutional.

The ruling doesn't mean Robards will necessarily avoid a death sentence.  The SCOFLA said Robards is entitled to a new penalty phase.

Robards was found guilty in 2010 for murdering Linda and Frank DeLuca in their Clearwater home.  Robards was a bodybuilder who was the couple's personal trainer.

Robards tried to break into their safe after finding out they kept thousands of dollars inside.  He never cracked the safe, but he stabbed the couple to death and set their house on fire.

photo credit:  Pinellas County Sheriff's Office 

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