Mark Sievers was convicted by a Florida jury for the death of his wife, Teresa Sievers, of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. The case is one of those rare instances in which the proceedings played out just as they would on a televised drama. By and large, the majority of murder cases do not involve jealous lovers, enraged former spouses, or familial intrigue. But when they do, the perpetrators are almost always white and that is why they are sensationalized.
In this case, 46-year-old Teresa Sievers was found bludgeoned to death in her Bonita Springs home in June of 2015. Members of her family cried and hugged as the verdict was read before the court. The jury deliberated for about two hours before coming back with a verdict.
The Sievers trial will now enter the penalty phase. Mark Sievers faces the death penalty.
What Happened to the Accomplices?
The defense, in this case, had a difficult time because two of Sievers’ former accomplices in the murder turned state’s witness against him. Jimmy Ray Rogers and Curtis Wayne Wright, Jr. were both convicted of second-degree murder for their involvement with the murder. Wright testified on behalf of the prosecution to negotiate a reduced sentence.
The prosecution has one more hurdle to jump before a death sentence can be imposed on Sievers. They must show that at least one aggravating factor exists to justify a penalty of death. Below, we’ll discuss aggravating factors in capital murder trials.
Aggravating Factors for Capital Murder in Florida
Florida Statutes 921.141 outlines what aggravating factors must be present in order to warrant a penalty of death in a capital murder trial. Once a defendant is convicted, a separate evidentiary hearing takes place to determine whether there is cause to proceed with the death penalty or whether the defendant should simply get life in prison without the possibility of parole. During this period, the prosecution will present evidence that one of sixteen aggravating factors exist to warrant death. These include:
- The defendant was convicted of a felony and is still under sentence or probation
- The defendant has a prior violent felony on their record
- The defendant was engaged in the commission of another crime at the time of the murder
- The defendant committed the murder to escape arrest or for pecuniary gain
- The defendant was attempting to disrupt law enforcement or government functions
- The crime was particularly heinous or cruel
- The victim was of a protected class (children under 12, law enforcement, or a government official)
- The defendant was a sexual predator, gang member, or under restraining order
In this case, the prosecution argued that the murder of Teresa Sievers was motivated, at least in part, by Mark Sievers’ desire to cash in on an insurance policy. That meets one criterion for capital murder: The defendant committed the murder for pecuniary gain.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
The West Palm Beach criminal attorneys at the Skier Law Firm, P.A. has the experience you need to defend you from a capital murder charge. Talk to us today to set up a free consultation.