Saturday, June 2, 2007

Court denies new trial in slaying

June 1, 2007

Tallahassee -- The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday said death-row inmate Robert Preston Jr. did not deserve a new trial in the 1978 slaying of a Seminole County convenience-store clerk.

Preston, 49, said DNA tests after his conviction found that a hair discovered on his belt buckle did not belong to the victim, Earline Walker.

Her body was found in a field near Preston's home in western Seminole County. She had been stabbed and her throat slashed.

At Preston's trial in Sanford, a state crime-lab expert testified that the hair appeared to match Walker's.

The high court, though, ruled that Preston should not get a new trial, despite the new DNA evidence, because there was so much other evidence linking him to the slaying.

At his trial, Preston did not deny killing Walker. He said he was temporarily insane because he was high on marijuana, alcohol and PCP.

Gary Taylor, Willoughby Mariano, Rene Stutzman, Babita Persaud, Christine Dellert and Kristen Reed of the Sentinel staff contributed to this report.

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