Thursday, January 10, 2008

Death penalty sought in murder case

William Grindle Jr. is accused of strangling his girlfriend while vacationing in Navarre Beach


Monday January 7th, 2008

The state is seeking the death penalty for a man accused of killing his girlfriend in Navarre Beach last Labor Day weekend.

Deborah L. Cameron was severely beaten before she died, according to 1st Judicial Circuit Medical Examiner Jeff Martin. But her cause of death was strangulation, he said.

Her accused attacker, William Hugh Grindle Jr., is facing execution if he is convicted. Three months ago, the State Attorney’s Office filed a notice of intent to seek the death penalty.

Grindle, 43, was arrested on Sept. 2 in Milton about 30 minutes after the homicide was reported. He was found by deputies who spotted his car from an alert issued by law enforcement at the scene, according to Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office officials.

At the time, Grindle was taken in for questioning and subsequently charged with an open count of murder. Since then, the charges have been amended to premeditated murder, making Grindle eligible for death row should he be convicted.

A premeditated murder charge does not necessarily mean someone planned a homicide for any length of time in advance. According to Assistant State Attorney John Molchan, “Premeditated means someone makes a conscious decision to kill.”

Martin said that although strangulation is what killed Cameron, 45, of Newnan, Ga., she was seriously injured before she was strangled.

“There were several acts of violence against her,” Martin said. “She suffered blunt impact injuries to the head, torso, extremities, her teeth were fractured, she suffered abrasions, contusions … there were several blows.”

Cameron died while on a vacation trip with Grindle and several others. Officials say the group rented a house on Grand Navarre Boulevard. That’s where deputies responded at 4:30 a.m. on Sept. 2 after receiving a call about the homicide.

Officials say they arrived to find Cameron dead in a bedroom.

Grindle fled the scene prior to the arrival of deputies, heading northbound on State Road 87. Deputies recognized his vehicle from an alert and pulled him over without incident once he reached Milton.

Grindle’s trial is set for September.

Daily News Staff Writer Lynne Hough can be reached at 699-3884.

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