Friday, June 29, 2007

Conviction stands in Zeigler case

June 29, 2007

Orange County

The Florida Supreme Court refused to overturn death-row inmate William "Tommy" Zeigler's murder conviction, according to a ruling released Thursday.

Zeigler's lawyer tried to convince the justices that DNA tests conducted in 2002 raised doubt that Zeigler killed his wife, her parents and a friend on Christmas Eve 1975 at his Winter Garden furniture store.

The blood found on the defendant and some of the victims did not conclusively eliminate Zeigler as the perpetrator, the justices wrote in their ruling.

Zeigler, 61, was convicted by a Duval County jury in 1976 for killing his wife, Eunice; her parents, Virginia and Perry Edwards; and store customer Charlie Mays. The jury recommended life in prison, but the trial judge instead imposed the death sentence.

In 1988, the Supreme Court ordered a new sentencing, but Zeigler was sentenced again in 1989 to death.

Ludmilla Lelis, Erika Hobbs, Leslie Postal, Sarah Lundy, Christopher Sherman and Willoughby Mariano of the Sentinel staff contributed to this report. Information from The Associated Press also was used.

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