Death penalty takes center stage in murder trial

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A debate over the death penalty is taking center stage in a high-profile murder case in Jacksonville.

At a hearing Tuesday, defendant James Rhodes appeared before a judge to discuss recently filed motions in his case.

Rhodes is facing a slew of charges, including first degree murder, in the shooting death of 20-year-old Shelby Farah.

Investigators said Rhodes shot Farah execution-style during a robbery at the Metro PCS store where she worked in 2013. July 20 will mark one year since her death.

The hearings leading up to his trial do not get any easier for Farah's mom, Darlene Farah.

"It's hard, but I have to do it. I'm Shelby's voice," she said.

Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty, but Rhodes' lawyers are challenging that. His team has filed a motion to determine if Rhodes is intellectually disabled, which would make him not eligible for the death penalty.

When asked if she wanted Rhodes put to death, Darlene Farah said, "I can't put a date on anybody's life, only God can. I just pray about it and put it in God's hands. That's not a decision I have to make."

Jury selection was scheduled to begin August 11 and will likely be pushed back, according to Farah's family.

A judge is expected to hear the motions regarding the death penalty at a hearing August 5.


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