Brevard Grand Jury Strikes Down Death Penalty In Anthony Welch Trial For 2000 Slaying of Elderly Couple

By  //  March 23, 2019

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Welch Used a Samurai sword to kill the couple

A Brevard County Jury did not unanimously agree to uphold the death penalty for 40-year-old Anthony Welch on Thursday who has been convicted in the premeditated murders of elderly couple Rufus and Kyoko Johnson on December 14, 2000.

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – A Brevard County Jury did not unanimously agree to uphold the death penalty for 40-year-old Anthony Welch on Thursday who has been convicted in the premeditated murders of elderly couple Rufus and Kyoko Johnson on December 14, 2000.

As a result, two consecutive life sentences have been imposed on Welch by Judge Robin Lemonidis, according to the State Attorney’s Office.

The State Attorney’s Office points out that Welch was originally sentenced to death for the murders in March of 2006, but the sentence was later overturned on appeal.

Although the sentence was not directly affected by the 2016 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Hurst v. Florida, the revised death penalty procedure requiring a unanimous jury recommendation, was implemented prior to the penalty phase hearing that began March 4, 2019.

The case revealed that Welch went to the home Rufus and Kyoko Johnson on December 14, 2000, looking for money.

Rufus Johnson, a 69-year-old retired Air Force Master Sergeant, was celebrating his wife’s birthday in their Suntree home when Welch attempted to extort cash from Johnson and his wife.

After the Johnsons refused to give Welch money, Welch bludgeoned and stabbed the couple to death using a Samurai sword.

“It was sickening and cruel,” said Phil Williams, former Brevard County Sheriff. “It was a horrible death.”

It was later discovered after the Welch committed the murders, he went on a date later that night.

Detectives identified Welch as the murderer when an extortion note he gave the couple was found in Kyoko’s pocket with his fingerprint on it, according to court documents.

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Welch then confessed to murdering the couple in 2006.

“The brutal, callous, and unjustifiable killing of two innocent people made seeking to uphold the death penalty appropriate in this case,” said State Attorney Phil Archer after learning of the verdict on Thursday and who authorized the retrial of Welch’s penalty phase.

“While I respect the decision of the jury, I’m deeply saddened that this process continues to traumatize survivors and families decades after a lawful conviction. The verdict may be just, but the system is far from justified.”

State Attorney’s Office says Welch will be returned to prison to serve the rest of his life in prison.

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