Convicted killer sentenced to death for a third time over child murders

A convicted murderer has been sent to death row for a third time in Florida.

Howard Steven Ault, 57, raped and killed two young sisters in 1996 after luring them to his Fort Lauderdale home with the promise Halloween candy.

He then raped DeAnn Emerald Mu’min, 11, in front of her sister, 7-year-old Sybilla Jones, and strangled them both.

Their bodies were found two days later in his attic.

In 1999, he was convicted of the two girls’ murders and sentenced to death. He later successfully appealed that sentence.

Again in 2007, Mr Ault was sentenced to death but succeeded in appealing for a second time.

In spite of the two rulings, his conviction has never been overturned.

On Tuesday, a Broward jury voted 9-3 in support of a death sentence recommendation for Mr Ault, Local 10 News reported.

The brother of the two victims, Bobby Jones, testified against Ault ahead of the decision.

“It was emotional, it brought up a lot of hate and feelings that I thought I kind of had put behind me,” he said. “Here is a man that murdered two children and he’s been sitting for 20-something years.”

Less than a year ago, this 9-3 split jury decision would have kept Mr Ault from returning to death row.

In April, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill that significantly loosened restrictions on death penalty rulings.

Previously, a jury had to be unanimous in order to recommend the death penalty, but now, a vote of at least 8-4 in favour will qualify.

The new law came after Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz was spared the death penalty after three of the 12 jurors voted against execution. He was instead sentenced to life imprisonment.

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