Friday, May 21, 2010

Defense Questions Witness' Credibility

Leon Davis faces three murder charges in first trial and two more in second.

Published: Tuesday, May 11, 2010 at 12:35 a.m.

BARTOW | A defense lawyer for accused mass murderer Leon Davis is questioning the mental state of a witness who was shot in the face while helping two Lake Wales women Davis is accused of burning to death in 2007.

Defense lawyer Bob Norgard said he wants to know what medications Brandon Greisman is taking.

Norgard also is seeking a psychological evaluation of Greisman to determine his ability to identify Davis as the man who shot him.

The trial is expected to begin in July.

Circuit Judge Michael Hunter postponed ruling Monday until he can review legal opinions on the issue.

Davis, 32, faces five counts of first-degree murder in the worst killing rampage in Polk County history.

Greisman testified Monday that he was putting his boots onto the stoop of his home Dec. 13, 2007, when he saw smoke at a nearby insurance office in Lake Wales.

As he walked over to check on it, he came upon a woman in the street whose clothing was on fire.

He said he was trying to help her when a tall black man shot him in the face.

"He was 5 to 10 feet from me," he said. "I saw his face."

Greisman said Monday he looked at the gunman for up to 10 seconds and had no doubt it was Davis.

Juanita Luciano and Yvonne Bustamante died from the burn injuries they received in the attack.

Luciano was five months pregnant when she was burned, forcing doctors to deliver her son just hours after she was injured.

Michael Bustamante died three days later, and Davis is facing three counts of first-degree murder for that attack.

He's also charged with the murders of two convenience store clerks at a BP station on County Road 559 near Interstate 4 in Lake Alfred a week before the Lake Wales killings.

Ballistics experts have testified the same gun was used in both attacks.

Greisman testified Monday that he was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety after the Lake Wales attacks, and has been taking medication for those conditions.

He said he began having nightmares about the attack while he was in the hospital undergoing treatment for the injury to his nose.

"I want this to be over with," he said. "I want this to end. I don't sleep very well. I relive it, seeing those poor ladies burn."

Norgard said the nightmares and related anxiety may have clouded Greisman's memory over time, and he wants Greisman evaluated for that reason.

Davis is scheduled to stand trial July 12 on the Lake Wales charges.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Davis if he's convicted.

The trial is expected to last through August.

The trial in the slaying of the clerks is expected to start in February 2011. Prosecutors will seek the death penalty.

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