December 11, 2017
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – For the third time since a woman was brutally killed nine years, a Duval County judge has sentenced Randal Deviney to be put to death for the murder.
In August 2008, when Deviney was 18 years old, he slit the throat of Delores Futrell and beat her during an attempted burglary. He then moved her body and staged the scene to make it appear that she had been sexually assaulted.
In October, after two days of testimony from detectives, forensic scientists, family members and psychologists, a jury unanimously recommended he be given the death penalty. On Monday, Judge Mark Borello formally sentenced Deviney to be returned to death row.
On Monday, Judge Mark Borello said that the crime, cruelty of the crime and age of the victim were all factors that led him to give Deviney to the death penalty.
“We’re glad it’s finally over (and) he got the sentencing he deserved,” Futrell’s granddaughter Raqia Blades said after the October hearing. “I’m glad we don’t have to keep replaying the memories of what happened and keep asking the question, ‘Why?'”
It was the third jury that has been asked to sentence Deviney to death for the crime. The first conviction was overturned on appeal and his second sentence was thrown out when the Florida Supreme Court ruled that death penalties are only constitutional if there is a unanimous jury recommendation.
Futrell, a dialysis technician and mother of four, was described in court this week as loving life and having a thirst for knowledge.
“A person like my mom should have died a peaceful death,” said Jacquelynn Blades, Futrell’s oldest daughter.
During the sentencing hearing, the defense presented 37 mitigating factors to try and convince the jury to spare Deviney from the death penalty. It called Deviney’s father and a forensic psychologist to testify an abusive childhood.
Despite Deviney mental, sexual and physical abuse as a child, Borello said Deviney still had a loving family and that abusive history did not excuse Deviney’s actions.
According to court documents, an officer responding to a 911 call from Futrell’s townhome found her in a “sexual position.” Deviney later told a psychologist that he placed her that way to make it look like someone else killed her. Investigators found no physical evidence that Futrell had actually been raped, court records show.
According to detectives investigating the murder scene, evidence showed that Deviney cut Futrell’s throat near a Koi pond in the backyard before dragging her inside the home and trying to cover up the murder by making it appear to have been a sexual assault.
The autopsy showed that Futrell had struggled with her attacker before her throat was cut and that the wound sliced her larynx, preventing her from breathing. She bled to death, according to court records. The Medical Examiner also found evidence that Futrell’s killer had tried to strangle her either after she was dead or while she was still dying from her neck wound.
DNA found under Futrell’s fingernails was matched to Deviney by analysts from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Deviney claimed he just snapped while talking with Futrell one day, but prosecutors argued that the murder was premeditated because Deviney wanted to steal from Futrell.
Deviney was first convicted of killing Futrell in 2010. The conviction and death sentence were overturned after it was found that detectives had coerced a confession out of Deviney without reading him his Miranda rights.
In July 2015, Deviney was found guilty again, and a jury recommended he be sent back to Death Row with an 8-4 vote.
The state Supreme Court upheld that second conviction, but later ruled the death penalty unconstitutional unless there is a unanimous jury recommendation.
Deviney’s case is one of seven Duval County death sentences overturned this year by the Florida Supreme Court.
Over the years, Deviney’s behavior behind bars came under scrutiny. Before the start of his second trial, Deviney publicly made claims that Donald Smith, the man charged with murdering 8-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle, had told him about another murder he committed years before. He even attempted to use that information as leverage for a shorter prison sentence. The State Attorney’s Office said Deviney’s claims were not credible.