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Listing of Florida Death Row Inmates U - Z
Listing of Florida Death Row Inmates U - Z
Started by Jeff1857, June 26, 2009, 01:33:54 AM
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June 26, 2009, 01:33:54 AM
: September 18, 2010, 03:51:05 AM by Jeff1857
Terance Valentine and his wife Livia Romero immigrated to the United States in 1975. The couple settled in New Orleans and adopted a child, Giovanna. After seeking a divorce from Valentine in 1986, Romero married Ferdinand Porche. Romero then relocated with her daughter and new husband to Tampa, Florida. Shortly after the move, Romero began receiving threatening phone calls from Valentine. On 09/09/88, Ferdinand Porche returned home to meet his family. When Porche entered the house, Valentine shot him in the back, severing his spinal cord and rendering him paralyzed from the waist down. Valentine said to Porche, "This is my revenge." Porche was forced to crawl into the bedroom where he saw his pregnant wife naked, bound and gagged, and his baby crying. Valentine then began to systematically beat and torture Porche, announcing, "I'm gonna kill you, but you're gonna suffer." Valentine then transported Porche and Romero to a remote location and shot them both. Livia Romero survived the attack and informed police that Valentine was the assailant. In the weeks following her release from the hospital, Romero began to receive calls from Valentine. With the help of police recording devices, Romero taped her conversations with Valentine, which subsequently led to his arrest.
Resentenced to Death 9/30/94.
Manuel Valle was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Officer Louis Pena of the Coral Gables Police Department. Officer Gary Spell, who was at the scene, recalled the following events at trial: On 04/02/78, Officer Louis Pena pulled over Manuel Valle and his codefendant, Felix Ruiz, for a traffic violation. Upon arriving at the scene, Officer Spell observed Valle sitting in the patrol car with Officer Pena. When Officer Pena initiated a registration check on the stolen car that Valle was driving, Valle exited the patrol car and walked back over to his own vehicle. Valle retrieved a gun from his car, returned to the patrol car, and fired one shot at Officer Pena, killing him. Valle then turned and fired two shots at Officer Spell before fleeing the scene. Valle was apprehended two days later in Deerfield Beach.
Resentenced to Death 3/16/88.
Codefendant Felix Ruiz was charged as an accessory after the fact and sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment on 06/20/78.
William Van Poyck
On 06/24/87, during the transport of a state prisoner named James O'Brien, Van Poyck and an accomplice, Frank Valdez, ambushed the two guards in the prison van, assaulted them, and fired three shots, one to the head and two to the chest, into one of the guards, killing him instantly. In an attempt to free O'Brien from the van, Van Poyck fired numerous shots at the padlock of the van door, with one ricocheting and striking the other guard.
Van Poyck and Valdez then fled the scene in a Cadillac, and a chase with police ensued. During the chase, Van Poyck fired numerous shots at the pursuing police cars, striking three of them. Eventually, Valdez lost control of the car and it struck a tree. The two were arrested and four pistols were recovered from the car, including the service revolver of the guard that was killed. Sentenced to Death 12/21/88.
Peter Ventura was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Robert Clemente.
Jerry Wright had taken out a key-man life insurance policy on Robert Clemente, his employee. Wright had borrowed money from Jack McDonald and needed to repay the debt. He asked McDonald to find someone to kill Clemente, and then, Wright and McDonald would share the money from the insurance policy in repayment of Wright's debt to McDonald. McDonald arranged a meeting between Wright and Ventura, an acquaintance of McDonald's, in Chicago. Ventura agreed to kill Clemente for Wright and went to Volusia County in 1981 to complete the job. On 04/15/81, Ventura, pretending to be a potential customer, contacted Clemente and arranged to meet him at the Barnett Bank in Deland. He and Clemente drove to the site that Ventura had previously chosen to murder the victim, and McDonald followed. After shooting Clemente, Ventura ran to where McDonald waited, and they drove to Daytona Beach. Ventura then received partial payment for his work and headed to Atlanta. When he received more money, Ventura flew to California.
Chicago postal authorities notified officials in Volusia County about a contract murder involving McDonald, Wright, and Ventura. McDonald was arrested when he went to meet Wright. McDonald acted as the state's key witness during Ventura's trial. On 06/25/81, Ventura was arrested in Chicago and indicted on 06/30/81 for First-Degree Murder and Using a Firearm during the Commission of a Felony. He was bonded out of jail prior to extradition and did not appear for the extradition hearing on 08/18/81. Ventura eventually was arrested in Austin, Texas, because a coworker reported that Ventura had bragged to him about performing a contract murder in Florida. Sentenced to Death 1/21/88
Codefendant: Jerry Wright
On 03/06/81, Wright was convicted of First-Degree Murder and sentenced to Life in prison for his involvement in the murder of Robert Clemente on 04/15/81.
Codefendant: Jack McDonald
On 06/25/81, Jack McDonald was arrested for murder. After five months in jail, McDonald was released because of the lack of evidence against him and due to a speedy trial rule violation. McDonald agreed to testify against Ventura for the prosecution.
Convicted and sentenced to Death in the Aug 6, 2004 murders of 6.
Jonathan Gleason, 17, and Michelle Nathan, 19, were beaten to death, along with Erin Belanger, 22; Francisco "Flaco" Ayo-Roman, 30; Anthony Vega, 34; and Roberto "Tito" Gonzalez, 28; and a dog inside 3106 Telford Lane on Aug. 6, 2004 in the bloodiest crime in Volusia County history.
Parsons said Erin Belanger's sexual assault with a bat "demonstrates a hatred or retaliation far beyond any effort at merely eliminating a witness" as prosecutors said.
In July, a jury determined that Victorino, 29, and Hunterand another man, Michael Salas, both 20, broke into the house and beat the four men and two women to death. A pet dachshund was also stomped to death. A fourth man in the brutal break-in, Robert Cannon, also 20, refused to testify at the trial after accepting a life sentence from prosecutors in exchange for his testimony. Cannon was sentenced Aug. 28 to seven life terms. The jury recommended life for Salas, and the judge agreed, sentencing him to seven life terms. Authorities say tensions escalated in the summer of 2004 when Belanger found Victorino squatting in her grandmother's house across town. She called authorities and removed his belongings. Prosecutors said Victorino orchestrated the killings as an act of revenge.
Sentence to Death 9/22/06.
John Vining was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Georgia Caruso.
In November of 1987, Caruso advertised diamonds for sell. A man, identifying himself as "George Williams," but who was actually John Vining, came to Caruso's fingernail care business on several days in November of 1987 to discuss buying the diamonds. Joann Ward, Caruso's employee, was introduced to "George Williams," and her description of "Williams" matched John Vining. On 11/17/87, Ward accompanied Caruso to meet Vining at the gem lab to have the jewelry appraised. Ward said that "Williams" was driving a black Cadillac Fleetwood, which was the same car that Vining's mother drove. Ward ran errands while Caruso and Vining were at the gem lab. Caruso, when they went to have the jewelry appraised, introduced Ellen Zaffis and Kevin Donner, employees of Winter Park Gem Lab to Williams aka Vining. Zaffis and Donner also gave descriptions of "Williams" that matched Ward's description of "Williams." The diamond jewelry was appraised at $60,000. Caruso told Ward that she and "Williams" were going to the bank because he had decided to buy the jewelry. Ward went back to work alone. Ward and Zaffis remembered that Caruso was wearing a gold Rolex watch and several rings, including an anniversary ring, a solitaire engagement ring, and 6-carat diamond ring. None of the jewelry was found with Caruso's body. On 12/08/87, land surveyors discovered Caruso's body in Apopka, FL. The body was identified as Caruso's through dental records. Caruso died from two gunshot wounds: one to the side of the face and the other to the temple. The black Cadillac belonging to Vining's mother was found burning shortly after the media announced the discovery of Caruso's body.
On 05/05/89, the Orange County Sheriff's Department issued a detainer against John Vining, who was currently in prison in the state of Georgia. At that time, Vining was serving a sentence for Kidnapping and Aggravated Assault. On 06/05/89, Vining was indicted for First-Degree Murder and Armed Robbery in the state of Florida. Sentenced to Death 4/9/90.
Alan Wade was convicted in January of first degree murder of Reggie and Carol Sumner. Back in 2005, police say Wade, along with three others, Michael Jackson, Tiffany Cole and Bruce Nixon, kidnapped the Sumners, buried them alive in a shallow grave then emptied their bank accounts. Wade's co-defendant, Michael Jackson, is currently on death row for the Sumners' murder, while Bruce Nixon is set to be released in 2050 after striking a plea deal to testify against the other defendants. Nixon took the stand during Wade's trial.
Tiffany Cole is also sentenced to Death in the murders.
Wade sentenced to Death 3/08.
Anthony Wainwright and Richard Hamilton escaped from a North Carolina prison, stole guns and a Cadillac then traveled to Florida. On 04/27/94 the car overheated in Lake City. At this point, they kidnapped Carmen Gayheart, a young mother of two, at gunpoint from a Winn-Dixie parking lot and stole her Ford Bronco. The two men raped and strangled Gayheart and then shot her twice in the back of the head. On 04/28/94, Wainwright and Hamilton were arrested in Mississippi after a shootout with police. Upon capture, Wainwright admitted to authorities that after kidnapping and robbing Gayheart, he raped her, despite that fact that he has AIDS. Wainwright denied he was involved in the strangling and shooting of the victim. Sentenced to Death 6/12/95.
Richard Hamilton was convicted of First-Degree Murder, Armed Robbery, Armed Kidnapping, and Armed Sexual Battery. He was sentenced to death for the murder of Carmen Gayheart and to life imprisonment on the other convictions.
Robert Walker was convicted and sentenced to death for the drug-related beating, kidnapping, and murder of David Hamman. On the evening of 01/26/03, David Hamman, Leslie Ritter, and Loriann Gibson arrived at the apartment of Joel Gibson in the city of Palm Bay in Brevard County, Florida. Already inside were Gibson, Walker, and his girlfriend, Leigh Ford. Immediately following the arrival, Walker and Ford attacked Hamman beating him with various objects including a metal Maglite flashlight and a blackjack. Suspecting Hamman to be a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent, the couple forced Hamman and his companions to strip off their clothes in order to search for wires. After the search, Ritter and Loriann Gibson were confined to the back bedroom and Walker and Ford continued the attack, which lasted two to three hours. Sometime around midnight, Hamman escaped the apartment and ran a short distance down the road before being caught by Walker and Ford. The couple laid a tarp in the trunk of Ford's car and forced Hamman to get in. Driving separately, Ford in her car and Walker in Hamman's pickup truck, the couple reconvened at the Tom Lawton Recreation Area, a state park. Upon arrival, Hamman was forced, hands bound, to lie down with his back to the ground. Walker then shot Hamman six times in the face with a Llama .45-caliber pistol. Upon returning to the apartment, Walker asked Loriann Gibson and Ritter to drive him to Georgia in Hamman's truck. They acquiesced, driving him as far as Live Oak, Florida, before leaving him at a gas station when he exited the vehicle to purchase a map. The two women then alerted a law enforcement officer of the events that had transpired the night before. Walker's description was released and he was apprehended that morning at the Live Oak bus station. Walker's recorded confession of shooting Hamman was played for the jury at trial. Loriann Gibson and Leslie Ritter also provided testimony in court. Sentenced to Death 12/13/04.
Codefendant Information: Leigh Ford, convicted of First-Degree Murder, Kidnapping, and Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon, is currently serving two life sentences and a 15-year sentence.
According to statements made by Frank Walls, in the early morning of 07/22/87, he entered the mobile home of Edward Alger and Ann Peterson with the intention of committing a burglary. Walls purposefully knocked over a fan while entering the house, waking both Alger and Peterson. When the two came to investigate the noise, Walls told Alger to lie on the floor and had Peterson tie his hands behind his back, bind his ankles and gag him. He then told Peterson to lie on the floor so he could restrain her in the same manner. Alger managed to free himself from the restraints and attacked Walls. While struggling, Walls cut Alger's throat with a knife that he had brought with him. Alger then bit Wall's leg, causing him to drop his knife. Walls then shot Alger in the head three times. Walls returned to where Peterson was restrained and found her crying, attempting to speak through the gag. Walls removed the gag from her mouth and untied her. After learning Alger was dead, a struggle ensued between Walls and Peterson, during which time he tore off her clothes. Walls then shot Peterson in the back of the head. Peterson survived the first shot and continued to scream. Walls forced her face into a pillow and fatally shot her again. The bodies were discovered later that day when Alger failed to show up for work. Investigators obtained a warrant to search Walls' mobile home based on information provided by Walls' former roommate, who lived near the victims. Investigators seized evidence from Walls' residence linking him to the murders, which subsequently led to his arrest. Resentenced to Death 7/29/92.
Jason Dirk Walton
Eight-year-old Chris Fridella contacted police in the early morning hours of 06/18/82, notifying them that his father and two of his father's friends had been shot. When authorities arrived at the scene, they found Steven Fridella, Bobby Martindale, and Gary Petersen dead, lying face down on the floor with their hands bound behind them. The victim's wallets had been rummaged through, and the house had been scoured in an apparent search for valuables. Approximately six months later, Robin Fridella, Steven Fridella's ex-wife, furnished police with information that pointed to Jason Walton (who she was romantically involved with at the time) and his accomplices: Terry Van Royal, Richard Cooper and Jeff McCoy. During an interview, Walton confessed to the robbery, but denied actually shooting any of the victims. Walton relayed the following information in his statement: The four codefendants had planned the robbery for over a week and, on the evening of 06/17/82, they went to the Fridella residence. Walton, Royal, McCoy and Cooper rounded up the adults in the house, tied their hands and laid them down on the living room floor. Jeff McCoy then returned to the car while the other three men remained in the house. Eight-year-old Chris Fridella was also bound and ushered into the bathroom, where he was left physically unharmed. Walton searched the house for money and cocaine while Cooper and Royal guarded the captives. Walton claimed he ordered everyone to leave after one of the captives was able to identify him. Walton stated that he heard gunshots as he left the house. According to the testimony of codefendant Richard Cooper, Walton pronounced that all three men must be shot after he was identified. Walton commanded Cooper and Royal to open fire on the captive men when his own gun misfired. Upon leaving the house, Walton told Cooper that one of the men was still alive, at which time he ordered Cooper to return and shoot Fridella again.
Resentenced to Death 8/29/86.
On the morning of 08/17/89, the body of 93-year-old Alice Berdat, having been severely beaten and bruised, was found murdered in her home. The medical examiner's report showed that there was evidence of both vaginal and anal rape, as well as 17 fractured ribs. Anthony Neil Washington was incarcerated in the Largo Community Correctional Work Release Center, which was located 2.1 miles from Berdat's house. On the morning of 08/17/89, Washington was seen leaving for his job at Cocoa Masonry at 6:00 a.m., and returned to the center at exactly 9:17 a.m. Records show that he did not work at his job that morning. Approximately two weeks later on 08/31/89, investigator Michael Darroch interviewed a few of Washington's co-workers at Cocoa Masonry. The co-workers told the investigator that they had seen Washington arrive at work for a short while the morning of 08/17/89, where he proceeded to sell a gold watch to fellow employee, Robert Leacock. Investigators later identified the watch as belonging to Alice Berdat. Darroch visited Leacock at his home where they showed him a picture of Washington. Leacock identified Washington from the picture as being the man who had sold him the watch. On 09/05/89, Washington was brought into the police station in Zephyrhills for questioning in an unrelated sexual battery investigation. Darroch did not inform Washington that he was a suspect in the investigation of Alice Berdat's murder. While at the police station, Washington gave hair and blood samples to the investigators, which he assumed would clear him of any suspicion
in the sexual battery case for which he was being investigated. Washington was linked to the murder of Alice Berdat through the hair and blood he provided for the police. Washington motioned to suppress the hair and blood from being used in court but the trial court admitted the samples as evidence.
Sentenced to Death 9/4/92.
On the morning of 01/03/80, St. Petersburg police responded to a call that the nude body of an unidentified woman had been found in the mud flats of Tampa Bay. There was evidence that the woman had been dragged from a grassy area on shore into the water at high tide. An examination of the body revealed severe lacerations on the head and rectum, and bruising on the throat. Medical examiners determined that drowning was ultimately the cause of death. Additionally, there was an adequate amount of acid phosphotase found in the woman's rectum to suggest the presence of semen. The lacerations in her rectum were determined to be cause by the insertion of a large object.
Unable to identify the body of the woman, St. Petersburg police turned to the public for help. An anonymous caller gave police of the license plate number of Robert Waterhouse and suggested that they should investigate him. The body of the woman was identified as Deborah Kammerer by her neighbors, Yohan Wenz and Carol Byers. Wenz and Byers reported that on the evening of 01/02/80 they accompanied Kammerer to the ABC Lounge. They later left the lounge, while Kammerer stayed behind. Kyoe Ginn, a bartender at the ABC Lounge, testified that he saw Kammerer talking to Robert Waterhouse and that the two left the lounge together around 1:00 a.m. On the evening of 01/07/80, Robert Waterhouse was asked to go to the police station voluntarily for questioning. Waterhouse told the investigators that he did not know the victim and did not leave the bar with a woman. Waterhouse was permitted to leave the police station, but his car was impounded with a search warrant. A search of his car revealed bloodstains and a luminol test showed that more blood had been wiped up. The blood found in the car was consistent with the blood type of Kammerer and inconsistent with the blood type of Waterhouse. Additionally, investigators found strands of hair that were similar in characteristic to the samples taken from Kammerer. There were also fibers in the car that matched fibers from the Kammerer's coat and pants. Waterhouse was arrested on 01/09/80 for the murder of Deborah Kammerer. During a subsequent interrogation, Waterhouse was shown a picture of Kammerer and admitted that he did, in fact, know her. Sentenced to Death 4/11/90.
In 1966, Robert Waterhouse was indicted on charges of First-Degree Murder and Burglary in New York. He was charged with breaking into a home and killing 77-year-old Ella Carter. Waterhouse pled guilty to Second-Degree Murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment. He was on lifetime parole at the time of the Kammerer murder.
Tony R. Watts
On the morning of 02/18/88, Glenda Jurado was returning home from jogging when Tony Watts forced her at gunpoint towards her house. Watts informed Glenda that he was just released from prison and needed money to leave town. Simon Jurado, Glenda's husband, answered the door, at which time she told her husband that Watts had a gun and was demanding money. Simon gave Watts all the money he had, but Watts demanded more and stated that he would kill Glenda if he didn't get it. In response to his threats, Simon gave Watts a piggy bank containing money. After searching the house Watts made Simon undress in the bathroom and told Glenda to get undressed as well. Watts penetrated Glenda with his finger and unsuccessfully attempted to have sexual intercourse with her. Upon seeing what Watts was doing to his wife Simon yelled and threw a chair at him. The chair knocked Watts into the hallway. Glenda ran from the house while the two men struggled. Glenda heard a shot fired and her husband scream. She also witnessed Watts run out of the house and down the street with the gun. Simon ran out of the house but collapsed on the lawn and died. The cause of death was from the gunshot wound to Simon's mouth, which severed an artery leading to his brain. In September 1988, Glenda and a neighbor who witnessed Watts running from the house that day identified him as being the assailant. Watts' baseball cap, which was found inside the Jurado's house, contained hairs microscopically similar to his. His fingerprints were also found on the door of the front porch.
Sentenced to Death 9/15/89.
Convicted and sentenced to Death in the December 2000 murders of Rufus and Kyoko Johnson inside their Pineda Crossings home. Welch tied up, beat, strangled, stabbed and slashed the Johnsons -- his former next-door neighbors. Rufus Johnson, 69, and Kyoko Johnson, 66, were beaten and cut and she was strangled. Their children found their bound bodies 4 days after the murders. Sentenced to Death in 2005.
Update: The FL Supreme Court Tossed the Death sentence on 9/27/08.
Jason Wheeler was convicted of the 01/09/05 murder of Deputy Wayne Koester and the contemporaneous attempted first-degree murder and battery with a firearm of deputies Thomas
McKane and William Crotty. On the morning of 01/09/05, Jason Wheeler's then-girlfriend, Sara Heckerman, placed a 911 call from the Lake County home the couple shared. Deputies Wayne
Koester, William Crotty, and Thomas McKane responded to the 911 call in full uniform, each driving
a marked patrol car. Upon arrival, Deputy Crotty observed Heckerman with facial bruising and a head wound and made the decision to arrest Wheeler. The deputies then obtained Heckerman's consent to search the premises. When deputies McKane and Koester began to mark the crime scene with tape, Wheeler appeared with a shotgun and began shooting at the two deputies. Deputy Crotty took cover at the rear end of one of the patrol cars and Wheeler turned and opened fire in that direction as well. Deputy Crotty then observed Deputy Koester running up the driveway, bleeding from wounds to his face and being chased by Wheeler who was aiming the shotgun at Deputy Koester's back. Wheeler then turned to Deputy Crotty and fired, wounding him in the leg. When Deputy Crotty returned fire, Wheeler ran into the woods adjacent to the crime scene. Wheeler soon returned and continued to shoot at Deputy Crotty while yelling threats to kill him. When Wheeler ran back into the woods a second time, Deputy Crotty fired again at Wheeler, injuring him in the buttocks. Deputy McKane
was also engaged in the gun battle with Wheeler, who returned fire and injured Deputy McKane's leg, hand, arm, shoulder, and lip. With Wheeler hiding in the woods, the search continued for several hours with the use of a search helicopter and tracking dogs. Another officer eventually found Wheeler lying on the ground in a wooded area near a lake. Upon being found, Wheeler stood and screamed several times for the officer to kill him. When Wheeler appeared to reach for a weapon, the officer fired shots at Wheeler, resulting in his permanent paralysis. Wheeler was found with speaker wire wrapped
around his neck and reported to another officer that he had tried unsuccessfully to kill himself during the search. Deputy Koester died as a result of a shotgun blast he received from Wheeler. Koester had sustained nonfatal injuries to his arms, hand, neck, buttocks, and legs caused by birdshot pellets. Koester had also sustained a nonfatal injury to his armpit, chest, and lungs caused by buckshot pellets. The last and fatal injury was a birdshot pellet injury to the head, during which pellets entered Koester's left eye and lodged in his brain. Sentenced to Death 10/23/06.
William Melvin White was convicted of murdering Gracie Mae Crawford on 06/06/78.
White was a member of a motorcycle gang in Kentucky called the Outlaws. He was visiting the Orlando chapter of the Outlaws the night of the murder. On the night of 06/06/78, the motorcycle gang went out to a nightclub in Orlando to have a few drinks. While at the nightclub, the group met the victim, Gracie Mae Crawford. After spending a few hours drinking at the nightclub, the Outlaws and Crawford went back to their clubhouse. Shortly after returning to the clubhouse, White and his girlfriend went to the bedroom they were staying in while Crawford remained with the gang and continued to drink. White and his girlfriend remained in the bedroom until another gang member, Richard DiMarino, knocked on the door and told White that Crawford liked African Americans and they needed to "teach her a lesson." Upon hearing this, White left the bedroom and went into the kitchen where he, DiMarino, and a third gang member, Guy Ennis Smith, preceded to beat Crawford. After the three men had finished beating her, White and DiMarino took her from the kitchen and put her in the front seat of White's girlfriend's car. They drove the car to a secluded area at the end of a deserted road where they
pulled Crawford from the car and then passed her over a barbed wire fence and laid her on the
ground. White then sat on top of Crawford and fatally stabbed her in the chest 14 times and then
cut her throat. White then gave the knife to DiMarino who cut her throat again. DiMarino and White left the crime scene and attempted to return home, but the two men ran out of gas and pulled into
the Seaworld parking lot. Two security guards on duty (who later identified the two men to
authorities) gave the men some gas for their car. White and DiMarino then returned to the crime
scene and picked up Crawford's body and disposed of it in a different location.
Sentenced to Death 4/20/00.
Richard DiMarino, the codefendant in this case, received a lesser charge and sentence in return for his testimony against White. He was found guilty of third-degree murder and was sentenced to fifteen years in prison.
Ernest Whitfield was convicted and sentenced to death for the 06/19/95 murder of Claretha Reynolds.
In June of 1995, Ernest Whitfield visited the home of Claretha Reynolds. While there, he asked Reynolds, Willie Mae Brooks (who lived with Reynolds) and Estella Pierre for money. Estella Pierre was Whitfield's former girlfriend. When all three women refused, Whitfield attempted to grab Pierre's purse. Reynolds put Whitfield into a headlock and proceeded to throw him out of her house. Before leaving, Whitfield exclaimed, "I am going to kill all three of you bitches." In the early morning of 06/19/95, Whitfield tried to get Brooks to let him into Reynold's home. Brooks turned him away and went back to sleep in the room she shared with her one-year-old child. Whitfield then broke into Reynolds' home armed with a large knife. Whitfield proceeded into the bedroom where Brooks and her child lay sleeping. He raped Brooks and motioned that he would stab her if she made any noise. Whitfield left Brooks and went into the bedroom where Reynolds and her five children were sleeping. A few moments later, Reynolds staggered into Brook's room, asking her to lock her door. Whitfield had stabbed Reynolds numerous times and she told Brooks that she was dying. Brooks and one of
Reynolds' daughters escaped through the bedroom window and ran to a neighbor's house
to call for help. Whitfield fled the scene and Reynolds died soon after the police arrived. After his arrest, Whitfield confessed to stabbing Reynolds and showed authorities to the murder weapon. Whitfield also admitted to being high on crack cocaine at the time of the crime.
Sentenced to Death 10/20/95.
Gary Whitton was convicted and sentenced to death for the 10/10/90 murder of James Mauldin.
Gary Whitton met James Mauldin in March of 1989 at a halfway house in Pensacola where the two men were receiving alcohol treatment. After leaving the halfway house, Whitton and Mauldin would see each other occasionally at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. On 10/07/90, Mauldin spent the night at Whitton's home after showing up intoxicated. On 10/08/90, the two men drove to Destin so Mauldin could withdraw money from his bank. The bank was closed, so the men returned the following day. Mauldin closed his account after he was told by the bank teller that he could not withdraw money without his passbook, which he did not have. Whitton assisted Mauldin with filling out the forms required for closing his account because Mauldin was too intoxicated to do so himself. Mauldin left the bank with $1,135.88 in cash. Both men then checked into a hotel in Destin. Whitton filled out the hotel forms, giving a false license plate number. The hotel clerk noticed the discrepancy in the license plate numbers and recorded the correct information on the hotel forms. After checking in, Whitton left the hotel at approximately 12:00 p.m., and he claimed he did not return to the hotel again.
During the investigation, Whitton told officers that he did not return to the hotel the night of the murder. Whitton later told the officers that he did return for a few minutes, but that Mauldin was already dead when he arrived. The hotel clerk said that he saw Whitton's car arrive at approximately 10:30 p.m. and leave again at approximately 12:30 a.m. The same hotel clerk found Mauldin's body the next day. Mauldin's body was found with numerous injuries, including a fractured skull and stab wounds to the shoulder, cheek, neck, scalp, back and heart. Tests indicated that he had a 0.34 blood alcohol level at the time of his death and, according to police records, Mauldin had no money on him besides some spare change. Police brought Whitton to the station for questioning on 10/11/90, after being alerted by the hotel clerk about the false information given by Whitton on the hotel forms. A search of Whitton's home revealed a pair of boots that were stained with blood that matched Mauldin's blood-type. The police then searched Whitton's car where they found bloodstains that also matched Mauldin's blood type. While in jail awaiting trial, Whitton confessed to an inmate (and was overheard
by a second inmate) that he returned to the hotel to steal Mauldin's money and killed him because he was afraid that Mauldin would have testified against him in a parole violation hearing as a result of the robbery. Both inmates gave statements attesting to this information. Sentenced to Death 9/10/92.
On 03/05/86, Jerry Wickham, accompanied by friends and family, was driving along Interstate-10 when he realized that they hardly had any money for gas or other expenses necessary to continue traveling. One member of the party suggested that they stop at a local church for help. Wickham and others decided, however, that they should commit a robbery to obtain the travel money instead of asking a church. Upon reaching Tallahassee, the group exited the interstate and began driving north along Thomasville Road towards the Florida-Georgia border. The group pulled off the highway, close to the border, at which time the men hid and the women and children flagged down a passing car under the guise of needing help. When Morris "Rick" Fleming stopped to help and found nothing wrong with the car, Wickham jumped out of his hiding place, pointing a gun at Fleming. Seeing this, Fleming turned around and began walking back towards his vehicle. Wickham then shot Fleming in the back, the impact of which caused him to spin around and face Wickham directly. Wickham then shot Fleming in the chest once, at which time the victim began to beg for his life. Wickham then fatally shot Fleming twice in the head. The group took all the money he had, $4.05, and continued on to a nearby gas station where they purchased some gas. It was there that Wickham changed and threw away his bloodstained clothes. Wickham, while driving back towards Tallahassee, instructed the other members of his party to dispose of the used and unused bullet shells by throwing them out the window. The group continued towards Tampa, stopping along the way at a church to obtain more money for traveling expenses. Sentenced to Death 12/8/88.
On the afternoon of 09/05/90, Marlys Sather returned home from work on her lunch break and discovered her neighbor, Chadwick Willacy, burglarizing her home. When Willacy noticed that Sather was in the house, he struck her over the head several times with a blunt object hard enough to fracture and dislodge part of her skull. Willacy bound her hands and ankles with wire and duct tape. He then wrapped a telephone cord tightly around her neck in an effort to strangle her. When this failed to work, Willacy doused Sather with gasoline and set her on fire. Medical examiner's reports indicate that Sather died from smoke inhalation. Sather's son-in-law discovered her body when he went over to her house following a call from her employer notifying the family that Sather never returned from her lunch break. Resentenced to Death 11/20/95.
Ronnie K. Williams
Ronnie Keith Williams was found guilty of the 1993 stabbing of Lisa Dyke, which resulted in her death 19 days later.
On 01/25/93, Ronnie Williams and his girlfriend's sister, Ruth Lawrence, had a disagreement at the apartment Ruth lived in with her son David and the victim, Lisa Dyke. After the fight, Stephanie Lawrence, Williams' girlfriend, told Williams he was no longer welcome at either her or her sister's home.
On 01/26/93, 911 operator Ilona Gerdner received an emergency call at approximately 8:30 a.m. from a distressed female caller who identified herself as Lisa Dyke. Gardner testified that the caller was begging for help because she had been stabbed. When she asked the victim who had stabbed her, Dyke's response was a name that Gardner said sounded like "Rodney," but she later identified the name as "Ronnie" when the tape was played back for her. Gardner dispatched Officers Gillespie and Costello who arrived within one minute at the apartment Dyke shared with Ruth and David. When the officers knocked, Dyke answered the door nude and bleeding from numerous wounds. The victim was more than seven months pregnant at the time of the attack. As paramedics treated her, Officer Gillespie questioned the victim as to who had assaulted her. Through the oxygen mask Dyke was wearing, Gillespie heard Dyke's response as "Rodney." When asked to clarify, Dyke answered "Ruth's sister's boyfriend" and gave him the telephone number of "Ruth's sister." Dyke also asserted that he had raped her, though hospital personnel were unable to perform a rape examination or collect evidentiary samples before she was rushed into surgery. While processing the crime scene, Detective Cerat noticed no sign of forced entry but observed blood on the floor, dust ruffle, door, bedroom door (which contained a finger print), and found a bloodied knife found beside the victim's bed. After Dyke was taken to the hospital, Cerat collected bloody clothing, lifted six prints from the crime scene, and sent them to the lab for identification. At the hospital, Officer Jones showed Dyke a photo lineup and asked her if she could identify one of the persons in the lineup as her assailant. Dyke identified Ronnie K. Williams. Two days later, Jones photographed bite marks found on the victim's body and these marks were compared with dental imprints taken from Williams. Forensic dentist Richard Souviron identified the photographs of the bite marks as matching those taken from Williams' dental imprints. Fingerprint analyst Fred Boy testified that a fingerprint found in a red substance located on the bathroom door of Ruth's apartment matched Williams' left ring finger. DNA testing on blood samples taken from clothing in the apartment revealed a match to Williams' DNA profile at four genetic locations. The frequency of finding the same profile in two unrelated individuals matching at these four points would be 1 in 120 million African-Americans.
The medical examiner noted that Lisa Dyke had been stabbed seven times, six of which were between one-quarter of an inch and one-half inch deep. The seventh stab wound was approximately four inches deep and had punctured her left lung. Lisa Dyke's official cause of death on 02/14/93 was deemed to be multiple stab wounds that produced a fatally high level of toxicity in her body.
Sentenced to Death 4/16/04.
Dana Williamson was convicted and sentenced to death for the 11/04/88 murder of Donna Becker.
On the evening of 11/04/88, Robert Decker went out for dinner with his father Clyde and his two-year-old son Carl. They arrived home a few minutes before 9:00 p.m. and found Charles Panoyan, a long-time acquaintance and co-worker, waiting for them in their driveway. Panoyan accompanied the family inside to watch Dallas on television. Shortly after 9:00 p.m., Panoyan went to his truck to retrieve some venison that he had brought as a gift for the Deckers. Moments after Panoyan returned, a masked gunman (later identified as Dana Williamson) entered the house and put a gun to Clyde's head. Williamson ordered Clyde and Robert to lie on the floor and demanded their wallets. Robert told Williamson that he did not have his wallet. It was locked away in the safe. Meanwhile, Robert asked Panoyan if he knew the identity of the gunman, but Panoyan said nothing. Williamson then restrained
all three men with handcuffs and ordered Robert to show him where the safe was located in the
master bedroom. After inspecting the safe and deciding that it may be connected to an alarm system, Williamson instructed Robert and his son Carl, who had followed his father into the bedroom, to lie on the floor. He then tied Robert's feet together to prevent him from escaping. Robert managed to free himself and peered into the living room where Williamson was whispering something to Panoyan. Williamson noticed Robert in the doorway and returned to the bedroom to again restrain him.
Williamson then began rummaging through the house in an apparent search for valuables. Meanwhile, Robert freed himself again. Upon noticing, Williamson hog-tied Robert and demanded to know where he kept the drugs and money. Even though there was an estimated $2,000 in cash in the house, Robert responded that he had none. After the ordeal, police reports indicated that the cash was gone, along with several others items of value. While Williamson continued to search the house, Donna Becker arrived home. As she walked to the bedroom, Williamson grabbed her and pulled her into the hallway. Williamson stabbed Donna several times. After being stabbed, Donna managed to call 911 from a closet in the house. She alerted police to the robbery and expressed concern for her husband's and son's safety. Williamson continued to search the home and then returned to the bedroom with a piece of paper asking Robert for a copy of his signature. Robert noticed that his wife Donna had already signed the paper. Williamson then shot Robert, his father Clyde and his son Carl all in the head. The men and the boy survived; however, Donna Decker was found dead in the closet when police arrived at the scene. Months later, Charles Panoyan identified Dana Williamson as the perpetrator of the robbery and murder. According to his testimony, Panoyan knew Williamson through Williamson's father, Charlie, who was a good friend of Panoyan's. Panoyan testified that Williamson approached him on several occasions and inquired whether Robert Decker dealt drugs. Panoyan adamantly insisted that Robert Decker was not involved in drugs. Williamson again asked about Robert Decker's drug involvement the night before the murder. Panoyan testified that, on the night of the murder, as he went to his truck to retrieve the venison for the Decker's, he was held at gunpoint by Dana Williamson and his brother, Rodney Williamson. They told him they were going to rob the Decker's. The Williamson brothers allegedly threatened to kill Panoyan and his family if he said anything to Robert or Clyde Decker when he went back inside the house. Panoyan informed police that he recognized the gun that Dana Williamson was carrying as his own and that Williamson must have stolen it from his truck. Panoyan testified that during the robbery and murder, Williamson told him to go outside, where he was held at gunpoint by Rodney Williamson. Rodney Williamson instructed him to get in his truck and drive a short distance down the road. Panoyan claimed that Rodney Williamson repeatedly threatened his life and the lives of his family members. While the two men were stopped in the truck, Dana Williamson approached the truck without his mask. Williamson ordered Panoyan to leave and not to tell the authorities anything about what had happened that night. He then reiterated his original threats against Panoyan and his family. Panoyan claimed that, after he was released by the Williamson brothers, he went to a nearby shopping mall and asked a security guard for some money to call his wife. The security guard called a police officer, who escorted Panoyan to the Decker household and then to the police station where he was questioned concerning the crimes. It was during this interrogation that Panoyan acknowledged the crime that was committed at the Decker's household but that he was unaware of the assailant's identity. At trial, Panoyan acknowledged that he did not come forward with the Williamsons' identity right away because of the threats they had made against him, and Dana Williamson's reputation of having previously killed a child. Dana Williamson and Charles Panoyan were both indicted for the crimes 08/13/92; however, due to his testimony against Williamson, the charges against Panoyan were dismissed and he was released. Sentenced to Death 7/15/94.
NOTE: In 1975, Williamson was convicted of manslaughter for killing a child.
Rodney Williamson was convicted of First-Degree Murder and multiple counts of Armed Burglary, Armed Robbery, Kidnapping and Extortion. Williamson was sentenced to 30 years for extortion and to life
imprisonment on all other convictions.
Dana Williamson was convicted and sentenced to death for the 11/04/88 murder of Donna Becker.
On the evening of 11/04/88, Robert Decker went out for dinner with his father Clyde and his
two-year-old son Carl. They arrived home a few minutes before 9:00 p.m. and found Charles
Panoyan, a long-time acquaintance and co-worker, waiting for them in their driveway. Panoyan accompanied the family inside to watch Dallas on television. Shortly after 9:00 p.m., Panoyan
went to his truck to retrieve some venison that he had brought as a gift for the Deckers.
Moments after Panoyan returned, a masked gunman (later identified as Dana Williamson)
entered the house and put a gun to Clyde's head. Williamson ordered Clyde and Robert to
lie on the floor and demanded their wallets. Robert told Williamson that he did not have his
wallet. It was locked away in the safe. Meanwhile, Robert asked Panoyan if he knew the identity
of the gunman, but Panoyan said nothing. Williamson then restrained all three men with handcuffs
and ordered Robert to show him where the safe was located in the master bedroom. After
inspecting the safe and deciding that it may be connected to an alarm system, Williamson
instructed Robert and his son Carl, who had followed his father into the bedroom, to lie on the floor.
He then tied Robert's feet together to prevent him from escaping. Robert managed to free himself
and peered into the living room where Williamson was whispering something to Panoyan. Williamson noticed Robert in the doorway and returned to the bedroom to again restrain him. Williamson then began rummaging through the house in an apparent search for valuables. Meanwhile, Robert freed himself again. Upon noticing, Williamson hog-tied Robert and demanded to know where he kept the drugs and money. Even though there was an estimated $2,000 in cash in the house, Robert
responded that he had none. After the ordeal, police reports indicated that the cash was gone,
along with several others items of value. While Williamson continued to search the house, Donna
Becker arrived home. As she walked to the bedroom, Williamson grabbed her and pulled her into
the hallway. Williamson stabbed Donna several times. After being stabbed, Donna managed to
call 911 from a closet in the house. She alerted police to the robbery and expressed concern for
her husband's and son's safety. Williamson continued to search the home and then returned to the bedroom with a piece of paper asking Robert for a copy of his signature. Robert noticed that his
wife Donna had already signed the paper. Williamson then shot Robert, his father Clyde and his
son Carl all in the head. The men and the boy survived; however, Donna Decker was found dead
in the closet when police arrived at the scene. Months later, Charles Panoyan identified Dana
Williamson as the perpetrator of the robbery and murder. According to his testimony, Panoyan
knew Williamson through Williamson's father, Charlie, who was a good friend of Panoyan's.
Panoyan testified that Williamson approached him on several occasions and inquired whether
Robert Decker dealt drugs. Panoyan adamantly insisted that Robert Decker was not involved in
drugs. Williamson again asked about Robert Decker's drug involvement the night before the murder.
Panoyan testified that, on the night of the murder, as he went to his truck to retrieve the venison
for the Decker's, he was held at gunpoint by Dana Williamson and his brother, Rodney Williamson.
They told him they were going to rob the Decker's. The Williamson brothers allegedly threatened
to kill Panoyan and his family if he said anything to Robert or Clyde Decker when he went back
inside the house. Panoyan informed police that he recognized the gun that Dana Williamson was carrying as his own and that Williamson must have stolen it from his truck. Panoyan testified that during the robbery and murder, Williamson told him to go outside, where he was held at gunpoint by Rodney Williamson. Rodney Williamson instructed him to get in his truck and drive a short distance down the road. Panoyan claimed that Rodney Williamson repeatedly threatened his life and the
lives of his family members. While the two men were stopped in the truck, Dana Williamson
approached the truck without his mask. Williamson ordered Panoyan to leave and not to tell the authorities anything about what had happened that night. He then reiterated his original threats against Panoyan and his family. Panoyan claimed that, after he was released by the Williamson brothers, he went to a nearby shopping mall and asked a security guard for some money to call his wife. The security guard called a police officer, who escorted Panoyan to the Decker household
and then to the police station where he was questioned concerning the crimes. It was during this interrogation that Panoyan acknowledged the crime that was committed at the Decker's household
but that he was unaware of the assailant's identity. At trial, Panoyan acknowledged that he did
not come forward with the Williamsons' identity right away because of the threats they had made against him, and Dana Williamson's reputation of having previously killed a child.
Dana Williamson and Charles Panoyan were both indicted for the crimes 08/13/92; however, due to
his testimony against Williamson, the charges against Panoyan were dismissed and he was released.
Sentenced to Death 7/15/94.
Rodney Williamson was convicted of First-Degree Murder and multiple counts of Armed Burglary,
Armed Robbery, Kidnapping and Extortion. Williamson was sentenced to 30 years for extortion
and to life imprisonment on all other convictions.
Johnny Williamson, along with codefendants Omer Williamson (no relation) and "Chickenhead" Robertson were inmates at Cross City Correctional Institution at the time of the murder of inmate Daniel Drew. Johnny Williamson was serving a nine-year sentence for a 1984 robbery conviction.
While in prison, Johnny Williamson and Omer Williamson were involved in the sale and distribution of drugs. Omer owed inmate Daniel Drew $15 from a previous marijuana sale but decided not to give him the money because he believed Drew was lying to him. Upon hearing this, Williamson told Omer that they would have to kill Drew because he was a "country boy" and would be a threat to Omer if the debt was not repaid. When another inmate, "Chickenhead" Robertson, learned that Williamson and Omer were planning to kill Drew, he offered to find a knife for them to use in the murder. When Robertson and Williamson were unable to locate a weapon, Omer returned to his cell and removed a metal rod from his sink that had previously been sharpened to a point by Daniel Drew.
On 06/20/85, Williamson, Omer, and Robertson proceeded to the maintenance shop where Drew was working and asked another inmate to send him out to talk to Williamson and Omer. Robertson was to act as a lookout during the confrontation. When Drew came outside, Williamson gave him $5, telling Drew that he was having difficulty getting the rest of the money and would need a knife to obtain it. Drew then gave Williamson a knife he had made. At this point, Williamson signaled Omer, who grabbed Drew from behind by the throat. Williamson stabbed him and a struggle ensued. Omer threw Drew to the ground, kicking him in the head. After watching the beating for a short while, Omer became "grossed out," gave the metal rod to Williamson, and left. Williamson then sat on top of Drew and stabbed him repeatedly with both the knife and the metal rod. After killing Drew, Williamson returned the knife to Robertson, who buried it underneath a tree where it was later found. Williamson gave the metal rod to Omer, who returned it to his sink.
Williamson was indicted on 10/22/85 by a grand jury in Dixie County for First-Degree Murder and Possession of Contraband (Knife) While in Prison. Williamson was found guilty of both charges and sentenced to Death on 5/8/86.
All three inmates were charged with First-Degree Murder and Possession of Contraband. Omer Williamson pled guilty to the charges and agreed to testify against Williamson and Robertson in exchange for the State agreeing not to seek the death penalty. Williamson and Robertson were tried together. Robertson was found guilty of the Possession of Contraband Charge.
On the morning of 02/07/92, Curtis Windom learned that Johnnie Lee, an acquaintance who owed
him nearly $2,000, had just won approximately $100 at the dog track. Windom assured Jack Luckett, the man who had told him about Lee's winnings, that he was going to kill Lee and that Luckett would
be sure to read about it. That same day, Windom purchased a .38 caliber revolver from Walmart, as verified by the sales receipt. The clerk who sold him the gun testified that Windom was as "calm as could be." Following the purchase, Windom located Lee, who was talking to two women by the side
of the road. Windom pulled up beside Lee and shot him twice in the back. Windom then got out of
the car and shot Lee again at very close range. Windom then ran towards the apartment complex where his girlfriend, Valerie Davis, and her mother, Mary Lubin, lived. Windom, who shared a child
with Davis, had lived with her intermittently. Cassandra Hall, a friend of Davis', had just arrived at
the apartment and witnessed Windom shoot Davis once in the chest. Hall noted that Davis was shot and killed without provocation. As Windom fled the apartment, he encountered Kenneth Williams, who he shot in the chest at a very close range. Williams survived the shooting. Williams noted that
before Windom shot him, he looked abnormal and visibly disturbed. Windom fled behind Brown's Bar, where several men attempted to take the gun away from him. By this time, Mary Lubin, the mother
of victim Valerie Davis, had learned that her daughter had been shot and was on her way home. Windom saw Lubin stopped at a stop sign and approached her vehicle. Windom said something to
Lubin before shooting her twice and killing her. Windom was convicted of three counts of First-
Degree Murder and one count of Attempted First-Degree Murder. Sentenced to Death 11/10/92.
On December 31, 1996, 79-year-old Clifford Moody and his 74-year-old wife Bernice Moody were
found dead. The couple resided in a mobile home trailer on lot 533 at Outdoor Resorts of America
in Polk County. The Moodys owned an adjoining trailer in lot 532, which was sometimes rented.
The trailer was in the process of being cleaned and prepared to be rented. The Moodys were found dead in the trailer on lot 532 a little after 1:00 p.m. Clifford Moody was found lying on his back in
the dining room area. His underwear and pants had been pulled down below his knees. The medical examiner testified that Clifford Moody died from internal bleeding caused by eight stab wounds.
Bernice Moody's body was found on a bed in the back of the trailer. She had on no clothing, except
for one sock. On the floor next to the bed was a nightgown and underwear tied in a knot. Pieces
of a porcelain toilet tank lid were discovered underneath her. The medical examiner testified that Bernice died in the early morning hours of December 31, 1996. She received 56 cut/stab wounds.
She also had blunt trauma injuries to her head, fractured nasal bones and a slit jugular vein.
Many of her cut/stab wounds were located on her right arm, which suggested the wounds were received in self-defense. No semen was detected on Bernice Moody. On January 3, 1997,
detectives searched the Outdoor Resorts dumpsters, retrieving three garbage bags containing
pieces of the porcelain toilet tank lid, Clifford Moody's wallet containing his identification and credit cards, bloody socks, and paperwork bearing the address of lot 301 and the names of Thomas
Woodel and his son, Christopher Woodel. Detectives went to lot 301 where Thomas Woodel resided
with his girlfriend, son and other relatives. Upon searching the premises, detectives discovered the knife used in the murder wedged between a dresser and wall. Detectives then questioned Thomas Woodel, and he confessed to murdering both Clifford and Bernice Moody. Woodel claimed that he
had never previously met the couple. After drinking with friends in a lot near his work, he walked to Outdoor Resorts. He admitted to entering the trailer on lot 532 in the morning of December 31,
1996, with the intention of asking Bernice Moody for the time. She was alone in the trailer and
upon seeing him, attacked him with a knife. Woodel confessed to stabbing Bernice Moody several
times and hitting her over the head with a porcelain toilet tank lid one to three times, shattering
the lid. In his confession, Woodel declared that Clifford Moody returned home as he was leaving the trailer. Woodel admitted to murdering him. Afterwards, he collected the pieces of the shattered
toilet lid, knife, and Clifford Moody's wallet and hid the items in a bucket. Woodel also said in his confession that he threw some items into a canal in the mobile home park, threw some items away
in his garbage, and hid the knife behind a dresser. Resentenced to Death 7/1/05.
On 02/06/83, the body of 75-year-old Lima Smith was discovered in the bedroom of her home.
Smith's body was found by her brother, who became worried about her when she failed to answer
the door. Smith had been stabbed multiple times in her face and neck and had been sexually
assaulted. Charles Westberry, a witness for the State, testified that, on the morning of 02/06/83,
Joel Wright came to his home and confessed to killing Smith. Wright acknowledged that he entered
her home through an open window with the intention of stealing money from her purse. Wright admitted to killing her because she saw him in the hallway and could identify him. Wright indicated
that he did not want to go back to prison. Wright then asked Westberry to provide an alibi for him. Several weeks later, when Westberry informed his wife of the circumstances, she notified the police.
Police reports indicated that Wright's fingerprint was lifted from inside Smith's home. Evidence was
also introduced that Wright had burglarized Smith's home on a previous occasion, having gained
access to the house through an open window. Sentenced to Death 9/23/83.
Date of crime: 4/20/00
Wright carjacked, kidnapped, robbed and murdered James Felker (18) and David Lee Green (21). Wright waived a jury recommendation of punishment and asked the judge to sentence him. In aggravation, Wright had multiple convictions for violent felonies and was already serving two life sentences for a drive-by-shooting the morning before this killing. In mitigation, the defense argued that he had a difficult upbringing and an anti-social personality disorder. The defense further argued that it was really Wright's accomplice who was responsible for the deaths because Wright was under his control.
Sentenced to Death 10/13/2005.
On May 13, 1988, Thomas Anthony Wyatt and Michael Lovette escaped from a prison work crew
in North Carolina and fled to Florida. In Jacksonville, Florida, they stole a car from a used car
dealership and drove to Vero Beach. Inside the stolen car, Wyatt and Lovette found a .38 caliber handgun. On May 17, 1988, the two men checked into a hotel under assumed names and called
their families in North Carolina. The two men began drinking at a local bar, where they again
made collect calls to their families. After leaving the bar, the two men stopped at a Domino's
Pizza restaurant to commit a robbery. Upon entering the restaurant, Wyatt instructed delivery
driver Matthew Bornoosh to remove his work shirt and give it to Lovette. Lovette put on the
shirt, disguising himself as an employee, so any passersby would not become suspicious. Wyatt ushered two of the employees, Frances Edwards and Michael Bornoosh, into the bathroom. He
took the manager, William Edwards (Frances' husband), into the office to open the time-delayed
safe. After obtaining the money from the safe, Wyatt raped Frances Edwards and shot all three employees. Medical examiners reports indicated that each of the three victims had been fatally
shot and that the seminal fluid found in the Frances Edwards' body matched DNA samples taken
from Thomas Wyatt. Following the Domino's robbery, Wyatt and Lovette drove west. Before r
eaching Tampa, the car they had stolen overheated. Wyatt and Lovette set the car on fire and hitched a ride to Tampa. While drinking at a bar in Tampa, Wyatt met the fourth victim, Cathy Nydegger. Towards the end of the night, Wyatt and Nydegger were seen leaving the bar together. Shortly after they left, Wyatt returned to the bar. He spoke to Lovette briefly and then both men
left the bar. The following day Cathy Nydegger's body was found along the side of a road in Indian River County. She had been fatally shot in the head. Wyatt then checked into a motel in Clearwater using an alias. He was driving Nydegger's car. While at the motel, Wyatt met Freddie Fox. Wyatt gave Fox his gun and some bullets. Ballistics reports indicated that the gun given to Fox matched
the rifling characteristics of the gun and bullets used to kill Nydegger. Michael Lovette returned to Statesville, North Carolina, where he surrendered to the police. Lovette confessed to police his part
in the crime spree, telling police that he was not the trigger man in any of the murders. Tommy Wyatt was arrested in South Carolina on an unrelated charge. While in jail, Wyatt confessed to the murders to inmate Patrick McCoombs. At trial, McCoombs testified against Wyatt.
Sentenced to Death 2/22/91 and 12/20/91.
The state charged Michael Lovette with four counts of First-Degree Premeditated Murder, Sexual Battery, three counts of Kidnapping, two counts of Robbery with a Firearm, three counts of Grand Theft, Arson, and Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. The court severed the Nydegger murder and the firearm possession. Lovette received three death sentences. In his Direct Appeal,
the Florida Supreme Court vacated the death sentences and the conviction for Sexual Battery. The Florida Supreme Court affirmed the remaining convictions and remanded the case to the trial court
for a new sentencing proceeding. Michael Lovette was resentenced to life on the murder convictions and is currently serving 11 life sentences at Okaloosa Correctional Institution.
Michael D. Zack III
Michael Zack was convicted and sentenced to death for the 06/13/96 murder of Ravonne Smith.
Prior to the murder of Ravonne Smith, Michael Zack resided in Tallahassee, Florida. Zack became a regular at local bar and befriended the bartender, Edith Pope. Through various conversations, Zack revealed that he witnessed his sister murder his mother with an axe. Feeling sorry for Zack, Pope
gave him odd jobs to do around the bar. On 06/04/96, Zack's girlfriend called him at the bar and informed him that he was being evicted from her apartment. Pope let Zack borrow her car to
retrieve his personal belongings and he never returned. Zack drove west to Panama City where he
met and befriended Bobby Chandler at a local bar. Chandler owned a local construction business
and hired Zack to work for him. Once Chandler discovered that Zack was living out of his car
(Pope's stolen Honda), he offered to let Zack stay with him temporarily. On 06/11/96, Zack left Chandler's home in the middle of the night, stealing a couple of guns and $42 from Chandler's wallet. Zack pawned the guns in Niceville the following day. Zack then drove to Okaloosa County, stopping a
t another bar. There he met Laura Rosillo. Zack and Rosillo left the bar together and headed to the beach to reportedly do drugs. Once at the beach, Zack attacked Rosillo. He hit her head against
one of the tires and tore her clothing. Zack strangled her and hid her body behind a sand dune,
kicking dirt over her face before he left. The physical evidence suggested that Rosillo was sexually assaulted; however, the semen found in her body could not be linked to Zack. Zack proceeded to
Joe's Dirty Bar near Pensacola. It was there that Zack met Ravonne Smith, one of the bar's employees. The bar was not too busy that afternoon, giving Smith the opportunity to spend her
time visiting with Zack. Smith called her friend Russell Williams and asked him to come to the bar because she was bored. Around 7 p.m., Smith, Williams and Zack left the bar together. Prior to leaving, Smith called her live-in boyfriend and told him that she would be working late. The three
drove to the beach where they smoked marijuana and then later, they returned to the bar. After Williams departed, Zack and Smith proceeded to her house. Immediately after entering the house,
Zack reportedly hit Smith over the head with a beer bottle. Glass shards and blood splatter
sprayed onto the interior of the door frame and the adjacent loveseat. Smith ran down the hall
to the master bedroom, leaving a trail of blood behind her. Zack followed her into the bedroom
and sexually assaulted her there. Smith then staggered into the guest bedroom and, upon seeing
this, Zack smashed her head down onto the wooden floor. At this point, Zack retrieved an oyster
knife from the kitchen, returned to the guest bedroom where Smith lay and stabbed her four times
in the chest. Zack took the knife back to the kitchen to wash the blood off of it and stuffed Smith's bloody clothes into a dresser drawer. He stole Smith's car, along with her television, VCR and purse.
That night, Zack removed the license plate and some personal belongings from Pope's stolen Honda
and abandoned it in a lot nearby. He then drove back to Panama City in Smith's car and attempted
to pawn several of the stolen items. The shop clerk suspected that the goods were stolen and
asked Zack for identification. Zack fled the shop and abandoned Smith's car. He was apprehended
a few days later when he was found hiding out in an empty house. After his arrest, Zack confessed
to the murder of Ravonne Smith and to the Pope and Chandler thefts.
Sentenced to Death 11/24/97.
Edward Zakrzewski, II was convicted and sentenced to death for the murders of his wife Sylvia and
his two children, Edward and Anna. Prior to the murders, Zakrzewski and his wife were experiencing martial problems. Zakrzewski reportedly commented to a neighbor that he would rather kill his family than subject them to a divorce. On the morning 06/09/94, Zakrzewski's seven-year-old son, Edward, called him at Eglin Air Force Base where he worked for the Air Force and informed him that Sylvia was talking about wanting a divorce. After that conversation, Zakrzewski bought a machete while on his lunch break. After making the purchase, he returned to work and completed a full day. That night, Zakrzewski arrived home ahead of the rest of his family and hid the machete in the bathroom.
After his wife and children returned home, Zakrzewski attacked and disabled Sylvia, hitting her twice over the head with a crowbar. He dragged her from the living room to their bedroom, where he hit
her again in the head with the crowbar. He then strangled her with a piece of rope. Next,
Zakrzewski called his son into the bathroom, supposedly to brush his teeth. Zakrzewski attacked Edward with the machete he had hidden behind the door. Edward attempted to block some of the blows as evidenced by defensive wounds on his arms and wrists. Edward died of severe head, neck and back injuries. Zakrzewski then called his daughter, Anna, into the bathroom where he attacked
and killed her with the machete. There is some disparity as to whether Zakrzewski killed Anna immediately as she entered the bathroom or he had her kneel over the bathtub, where her brother's body was lying, and killed her execution-style. There was evidence of defensive wounds on Anna's
arms and hands. Zakrzewski then dragged his wife's body from their bedroom to the bathroom, where he further assaulted her with the machete. Reports indicated that Sylvia died from both blunt and sharp-force injuries. After the murders, Zakrzewski drove to Orlando, where he boarded a plane
headed for Hawaii. In Hawaii, Zakrzewski changed his name and took up residence with a family
who ran a religious commune. Zakrzewski turned himself in to Hawaiian officials after the family he
had been staying with saw his picture televised on Unsolved Mysteries. Sentenced to Death 4/19/96.
On July 2, 1976, William Thomas Zeigler Jr. was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and
two counts of second-degree murder. The following account of the circumstances of the offense is that which is found in the Florida Supreme Court Opinion, published June 11, 1981: On Christmas Eve, December 24, 1975, Eunice Zeigler, wife of the defendant, and Perry and Virginia Edwards, parents-
in-law of the defendant, were shot to death in the W.T. Zeigler Furniture Store in Winter Garden, Florida. In addition, Charles Mays, Jr. was shot and subsequently beaten to death at the same location. The medical examiner estimated times of death as within one hour of 8:00 p.m. that
evening. The defendant was also found shot through the abdomen. The state theorized that
Zeigler murdered the four people in an apparent insurance fraud scheme. Just months before the murders, Zeigler had purchased a large amount of life insurance on his wife and had purchased
two RG revolvers indirectly through Edward Williams, a long time family acquaintance. Williams
testified that Zeigler had inquired of him about obtaining a "hot gun." Williams then arranged for another man, Frank Smith, to purchase the guns and deliver them to Zeigler. On the day of the murders, Zeigler had made arrangements to meet Mays and Williams, at separate times, at the
furniture store. Mays left his home around 6:30 p.m. and went to an Oakland beer joint where he encountered his friend, Felton Thomas. Thomas then accompanied Mays to meet Zeigler at the furniture store. Upon meeting, Zeigler took the two men to an orange grove to shoot a set of guns
he had with him in his vehicle. The state theorized that the purpose of this trip was to get the two men to handle and fire the weapons Zeigler had procured. When they returned to the store, Zeigler could not persuade Thomas to enter the store. Thomas became uncomfortable and left the premises. This was the last time Mays was seen alive by Thomas. Around 8:00 p.m., Zeigler returned to his
home to keep an earlier appointment he had made with Edward Williams. Williams was to meet him
at Zeigler's home in order to help Zeigler move Christmas presents from the furniture store. The two men used Williams' truck to return to the store. When they arrived, Zeigler entered through the front door and instructed Williams to pull his truck around to the back and then enter from the rear entrance. When Williams entered the back hallway, Zeigler put a gun to Williams' chest and pulled
the trigger three times. However, the gun did not fire and Williams fled the store. At some point
after this, Zeigler himself was shot in the stomach. The state theorized that Zeigler became
desperate and conceived the idea that he would appear uninvolved if he were also injured. Zeigler telephoned a judge's residence, where he knew police officers would be gathering for a Christmas
party, and reported a robbery. At trial, Zeigler maintained that his wife and parents-in-law were
killed during the course of a robbery and that Mays was involved but was killed by his confederates.
Resentenced to Death 8/17/89.
Convicted of killing his 77-year-old neighbor, Corrine Robinson, in April 2005. Zommer told jurors how he beat and cut the victim's throat, all because she witnessed him stealing a neighbor's boat.
Sentenced to Death 2/22/08.
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