Court Upholds New Trial for Death Row Inmate
The Associated Press
Published: Dec 19, 2002
]]> TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – Death row inmate Rudolph Holton deserves a new trial for the 1986 murder of a Tampa girl, the state Supreme Court ruled.
In a brief order Wednesday, Florida’s high court upheld an order by Circuit Judge Daniel Perry in November 2001 ordering a new trial for Holton, who marked his 16th year on death row last week.
Holton, 49, was convicted of raping and killing Katrina Graddy, a 17-year-old prostitute, and then setting her on fire in an abandoned drug house.
About 10 days before the murder, Graddy had told police another man had raped her. But Holton’s defense attorney had never been given that police report.
Martin McClain, a New York attorney representing Holton, said there were other problems with the case. For instance, a hair in Graddy’s mouth that prosecutors said came from Holton was later tested and found to be her own. Also, jailhouse witnesses recanted their testimony against Holton.
McClain said there was no case to bring against Holton again. The state has 15 days to ask for a rehearing. The state attorney’s office was closed for the day and didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment.
The 6-0 order was unanimous with the exception of Justice Peggy Quince, who was recused.
The high court said Perry’s order was “fully supported by competent, substantial evidence.”
In January, death row inmate Juan Melendez had his conviction overturned by the Florida Supreme Court after living nearly 18 years with a death sentence for a 1983 murder.
During his years in prison, Melendez lost several rounds of appeals and had his death sentence upheld by the state Supreme Court before the transcript of another man’s confession to the murder was discovered in 1999.
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