State to seek death penalty for Shows

OKEECHOBEE — Assistant state attorney Ashley Albright has filed the necessary paperwork to seek the death penalty for a 21-year-old Okeechobee man accused of killing a local mother of four.

Christopher William Shows, 21

Assistant state attorney Don Richardson filed paperwork Tuesday, Feb. 21, indicating the state intends to seek the death penalty for Christopher William Shows.

Mr. Albright and Mr. Richardson will be prosecuting this case together.

Shows was arrested Dec. 16, 2016, and charged with the Dec. 12 slaying of Amanda Gayle Suarez in her N.W. Third Street home. Her husband, Mathew, was at work and three of the couple’s four children were in school.

Mrs. Suarez was 25 years old when she was allegedly gunned down by Shows.

Shows, who was a pall bearer at the woman’s funeral, was known to the family because he was dating a cousin to Mrs. Suarez.

After he had entered the home, Shows allegedly began making sexual advances toward the woman but she continually rebuffed him. The young man left the home and walked to his truck where he had a .22 caliber rifle, notes arrest reports.

Shows then entered the home again and when Mrs. Suarez tried to run he reportedly shot her once in the back of the head.

According to arrest reports, Shows then dragged the woman’s lifeless body into the kitchen where he posed her in a crucifix position. He then had sex with the body, continue those reports.

Mr. Albright said Thursday, Feb. 23, he met with State Attorney Bruce Colton and received the go-ahead to seek the death penalty. This will be Mr. Albright’s fifth death penalty case and Mr. Richardson’s first.

He also explained how the state and federal supreme courts had been battling over Florida’s death penalty statute.

A few months ago the Florida Supreme Court overturned the state’s death statute that only required a majority vote from the jury. Then, the U.S. Supreme Court stepped in and said that was unconstitutional. That court then ruled the jury had to agree to put a defendant to death by a 10-2 vote.

Then Monday, Feb. 20, the state supreme court ruled a jury could recommend the death penalty if it was a unanimous 12-0 vote.

The final decision to put a defendant to death rests with the trial judge.

“They’ve always had the ability to do that,” pointed out Mr. Albright.

He went on to explain that Shows will first have to be convicted of the charges on which he was indicted Feb. 14 by an Okeechobee County grand jury. He was indicted on charges of first degree murder with a firearm, burglary of a dwelling with an assault or battery while armed, abuse of a dead human body, petit theft and tampering with evidence.

If Shows is convicted, the jury will then deliberate on whether or not to recommend the death penalty. But, before they do that, the state will present aggravators to bolster its case while defense attorney Stanley Glen will offer up mitigators against that penalty.

While this is a different step in the trial process, Mr. Albright said jury selection in this type of case is also different because some jurors may be against putting someone to death by lethal injection.

When questioning prospective jurors, he said he will ask “death qualifier” questions which will allow him to choose those who “… would vote for the death penalty under appropriate circumstances.

“We ask specific questions,” he added.

But jury selection is a long way off, and a trial date has yet to be slated.

Eric Kopp is a staff writer for the Okeechobee News

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