A week after a jury found Miguel Ruiz Lobo guilty of the 2014 murder of his ex-girlfriend’s 11-year-old daughter, the second phase of his trial began on Thursday.

The 12-member jury has found enough evidence to convict Ruiz Lobo of first-degree murder and robbery in the murder of Martha Guzmán, who was at her family’s apartment during summer vacation when she was stabbed.

The body of little Guzmán was found near a table in the living room of a Little Havana apartment with severe injuries around the body and multiple stab wounds to the neck area.

Police believe Ruiz Lobo killed his ex-girlfriend’s daughter after a bad breakup. However, when questioned by the police, the man mentioned that the girl was suicidal, but this theory was proven wrong due to the severity of her injuries.

After two weeks of family and expert testimony, on April 14, a jury found the defendant guilty.

At the end of the second phase, the jurors will recommend a sentence to the judge on whether the defendant should spend the rest of his life in prison without parole or be sentenced to death.

This Thursday, the jury heard again from the victim’s mother and a former medical examiner.

For the first time, the defense brought a witness to the stand. Ruiz Lobo’s sister called via Zoom from Honduras to describe her brother as a man with a traumatic childhood. The sister claimed that their parents beat Ruiz Lobo and he was controlling his emotions.

State and defense attorneys must prove aggravating factors during this part of the trial.

The prosecution and the defense agree on two aggravating factors: one is that the victim was under the age of 12, and the second is that the homicide was committed during the commission of another crime, in this case a burglary.

The jury only has to unanimously agree on an aggravating factor to consider the death penalty. All 12 members will then have to vote again to see if death is their sentencing recommendation. Otherwise, Ruiz Lobo will be sentenced to life in prison.

Governor Ron DeSantis on Thursday signed a bill that no longer requires unanimous jury recommendations for judges to impose death sentences.

This case will be one of the last in Florida that will require all 12 jurors to vote unanimously on a death penalty recommendation. Future cases will only need eight grand juries.

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