- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 5, 2014

CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) - A Tampa Bay area jury has recommended a life sentence for a convicted killer who has spent the last three decades on death row.

A Pinellas County jury on Tuesday voted 6-6 between death for 50-year-old Richard Michael Cooper and life in prison. Ties go to the defendant. A judge will make the final decision but must give the jury’s recommendation great weight.

The previous sentence was thrown out in 2011, after an appeals court found that evidence of the abuse Cooper suffered as a child should have been heard by a jury.

In June 1982, a then-18-year-old Cooper and three other men went to a Clearwater home to rob its occupants of drugs and money. Three men in the house were force to lie on the living room floor before being fatally shot.

One of Cooper’s co-defendants remains on death row, while the others are serving life sentences.

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