Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Back in action: Catch-up; Tommy Zeigler; Florida; WFLA reporter Keith Cote tells the story of a Florida man on death row for 42 years fighting for his life and the private investigator who says Zeigler didn't kill anyone..."He believes if jurors heard from all of the witnesses, or knew about the DNA results that would come years later, and not been intimidated into voting guilty, he would not be where he is today."

PASSAGE OF THE DAY; "Why is the state of Florida so reluctant to allow Zeigler’s case back in court?  Is there a chance he could be the next Florida death row inmate to be exonerated?"

STORY: "Florida man on death row for 42 years fighting for his life," by reporter Keith Cate, published by WFLA.com on October 29, 2018.

GIST: "It was a gruesome crime. Five people were gunned down in a furniture store in Winter Garden, Florida. Only one made it out alive and that lone survivor is still dodging death 42-years later.  “I didn’t do it,” Tommy Zeigler said. “They got a conviction and here I am stuck. A judge overruled a jury and sent Tommy Zeigler to death row in 1976. Private investigator Lynn Marie Carty has spent years digging up evidence that she believes proves Tommy didn’t kill anyone.  She showed us file folders packed with information about witnesses ignored or prevented from appearing at his trial. “This was all hidden from the judge and the jury,” Carty said. “They didn’t have all the information.  The guy didn’t do anything and we kept him there.” Zeigler swears he is innocent.  What he wants is a new trial to clear his name. “They can use every bit of that testimony,” Ziegler said. “They can bring it all back into that courtroom and present it to a jury and let me present what we have now.” Why is the state of Florida so reluctant to allow Zeigler’s case back in court?  Is there a chance he could be the next Florida death row inmate to be exonerated?"

The entire story can be read at:

Read the Wikipedia account: "Controversy": " The case against Zeigler, and his trial, has been the subject of criticism by many, including civil rights activist Bianca Jagger, and a juror who opted to convict Zeigler.[6][4] Among the criticized points, was the judge who oversaw the trial, Maurice M. Paul; months prior to the murders, both Zeigler and Paul testified in an unrelated case on opposing sides.[2] Although the jury at Zeigler's trial recommended life imprisonment, Paul instead sentenced Zeigler to death.[4] At Zeigler's trial, one of the key eyewitnesses for the prosecution, Felton Thomas, testified that on the night of the murders, he, Zeigler, and Charlie Mays drove to an orange grove to fire some guns. The prosecution believed that this was a plan from Zeigler to get their fingerprints on the guns. In 2013, however, Thomas recanted parts of his testimony.[7] In 2011, Zeigler's private investigator, Lynn-Marie Carty, located a new eyewitness named Robert Foster, who, on the night of the murders, attempted to rob a gas station across the street from Zeigler Furniture Store. Don Frye, the lead investigator on the case, had lied about Foster, saying his name was a typographical error.[8] Aftermath: Zeigler was scheduled to be executed on October 22, 1982. However, the U.S. District Court in Jacksonville stayed the execution due to new evidence. Zeigler was then scheduled to be executed on May 20, 1986. The execution was stayed, by the 11th Circuit Court, due to inadequate representation.[9] In April 1988, Zeigler's death sentence was overturned.[10] Zeigler was re-sentenced and again given the death penalty.[2] In 2005, Zeigler's request for a new trial was denied after DNA tests failed to conclude that Charlie Mays was the perpetrator.[4] Zeigler's case was denied bloodstain DNA analysis in 2013 and 2016.[11][12] In April 2017, Zeigler's case was denied Touch DNA analysis.[13] In popular culture: Zeigler's case was featured on television program, Unsolved Mysteries.[14] A documentary entitled "A Question of Innocence" was released in 2014 about Zeigler's case, and the death penalty in the United States.[15] In 1992, a book was released by Phillip Finch on Zeigler's case, entitled Fatal Flaw: A True Story of Malice and Murder in a Small Southern Town."

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com.  Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;