TAMPA, Fla. – A man who spent 14 years on death row in a murder for hire slaying has pleaded guilty — and is now a free man.
Michael Mordenti is now headed for Alaska.
He was convicted in 1991 of first degree murder in the slaying of Thelma Royston. A judge ordered a retrial and the second trial ended in a hung jury. A third jury convicted him.
Prosecutors said Mordenti agreed to take $10,000 from Royston's husband to kill her. Mordenti always stated that he did not commit the murder.
Before Royston's husband killed himself, he told his attorney that prosecutors had convicted the wrong man. This was enough for an appeals court to order a new trial — then Mordenti agreed to a deal: plead guilty to second-degree murder with credit for time served, and go free.
Mordenti was released last Friday and on Wednesday, he boarded a plane for Alaska.