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Memorandum, dated January 10, 2003 Re: DNA Test Results In The Case Of William “Thomas” Zeigler
New evidence reveals with virtual certainty that William “Tommy” Zeigler, Jr. is an innocent man sitting on Florida’s death row for nearly 29 years. Zeigler was finally granted DNA testing of some of the crime scene blood used to convict him; written DNA test results were provided on June 20, 2002.
The DNA test results support Zeigler’s account of what occurred at the murder scene. The DNA test results destroy the credibility of the State’s case and the credibility of its so-called eyewitnesses. If the DNA test results had been known to the jury at the trial in 1976, there is a virtual certainty that this additional information would have affected the verdict. Zeigler must be granted a new trial.
The memorandum will also discuss other evidence discovered since the original trial in 1976.
- The tested blood on Zeigler’s T-shirt and on his pants is the blood of Mays, not Edwards.
- The tested blood on Mays’s pants is the blood of Edwards, not Mays.
- The blood on the waistband and zipper of Charlie Mays’s pants is his own blood, as is the spot on the socks of Zeigler. The tooth belongs to Mays. This is all consistent with the fight between Zeigler and Mays described by Zeigler.
- Zeigler’s underwear evidence his own DNA. The other items showed no results from testing.
The State’s case against Zeigler is based on the contention that Zeigler killed his father-in-law, Perry Edwards and, therefore, the blood under Zeigler’s left arm (and on the front of Zeigler’s shirt) is from the bleeding head of Edwards as Zeigler administered the fatal beating.
Yet the DNA testing has established that Edwards’ blood is on Mays, not Zeigler, pointing the finger of guilt for the killing of Edwards directly at Mays. The type A blood on Zeigler is from Mays and is consistent with a fight to the death with Mays who jumped Zeigler when Zeigler walked into the darkened store.
The State’s whole case against Zeigler requires that Mays walk into the store for the very first time at about 7:45 p.m, after the murder of Edwards. The State’s blood-splatter expert, Herbert Leon MacDonell, testified at trial that the way the blood swipes on the floor were overlaid by the blood splatters from Mays’s death conclusively establishes that Edwards was killed at least fifteen to thirty minutes before Mays.
This means that in order for Mays to have Edward’s blood on him, he had to be in the store when Edwards was killed, unhinging the State’s whole case against Zeigler.
- With the DNA results proving that Mays is no innocent bystander, Thomas becomes a co-perpetrator and the nature of all his reported actions is changed.
The DNA test results establish that Thomas is lying. Mays was involved in the murder of Edwards. Either Thomas was picked up before that murder and therefore was present for it or was picked up after that murder by Mays, who would have had Edward’s blood all over his pants. Yet, although Thomas watched Mays getting into the car on the way to the orange grove excursion, he didn’t report seeing any blood on Mays.
The DNA test results establish that Thomas is either an accessory to this crime (before, during and/or after the fact), or a participant in a triple homicide and an attempted murder.
After the orange grove excursion, Thomas actively participated in the attempted murder of Zeigler by shutting off the power to the store so that Mays and the mysterious “white man” could jump Zeigler when Williams brings Zeigler to the darkened store at the prearranged time.
- The State’s case against Zeigler is based on the contention that Thomas and Mays were innocently duped by Zeigler into a trip to the orange grove to fire the murder weapons and thereby get their fingerprints on the guns.
Based on the DNA test results, if there really were a trip to the orange grove, it could only have taken place after Mays killed Edwards. That means that the rear, right side passenger area of the vehicle, where Thomas says Mays was sitting,should have had a good deal of blood transfer stains from Mays’s pants. No such stains were found in Curtis Dunaway’s car, the vehicle Zeigler was using that night; the excursion to the orange grove did not take place in Dunaway’s car.
- The State’s case against Zeigler is based on a cache of evidence discovered on January 2, 1976 and a tip of a latex glove.
This evidence cache “proved” events described by Thomas and Williams, now shown to be lying by the DNA test results.
The January 2 cache allegedly bolsters Williams’s story about how he got the gun from Zeigler; but the DNA test results prove that it didn’t happen that way. Edwards was killed by Mays. Wherever Williams got the gun that killed Edwards, he didn’t get it from Zeigler.
So who provided the January 2 cache of evidence that supports events that didn’t happen? And how was it placed into a secure crime scene under the management of the Orange County Sheriff Office?
There is credible evidence that the State manufactured a bullet for the grove to help convict Zeigler.
Shortly after Williams turned over the primary murder weapon to the police, Felton Thomas, an itinerant fruit picker, showed up to provide a bizarre tale of events. The point Thomas’ story was to establish that Zeigler had lured Mays into the store to kill him and make it look like a robbery to cover up Zeigler’s murder of his wife and her parents. Thomas claimed that Mays had
picked him up to help with a TV and that they then met a “white man” called Zeigler at the store. Thomas acknowledged that before that night he had never met Zeigler. There are serious problems with Thomas’ testimony:
- Thomas claimed that Mays was picking up a TV, yet Mays parked his van in a location hidden from the street and from which it was impossible to pick up a console TV. They would have to have lifted the console television over a six-foot fence.
- The route Thomas testified he and Mays took going to the Zeigler store on Christmas Eve night would have required the vehicle to go over a 3 foot high concrete wall.
- Thomas said a white man drove up in a car that looked like a Cadillac. Christmas Eve night, Zeigler was driving a dark Oldsmobile.
- Thomas said that the white man who met him and Mays at the store told Mays that the owner of the store was coming with the keys. He also testified that the same white man attempted to break a window with a metal bar in order to get into the Zeigler furniture store. Mays knew Zeigler, who was from Winter Garden, was the owner of the store and had the keys for it.
Clearly, the white man who met Mays and Thomas at the Zeigler furniture store could not have been Zeigler. The first time Thomas came to court the prosecutors had to point to Zeigler so that Thomas would know who Zeigler was.
The one remaining witness against Zeigler was Edward Williams, “the man whose truck was found at the murder scene, who was in possession of the principal murder weapon and whose friend admitted to buying the others, and whose movements before and after the crime are unverifiable and highly suspect.”
The DNA test results establish that Williams is lying. The blood of Edwards is on Mays. That means Mays was involved in the murder of Edwards. If Williams wasn’t at the Zeigler store when Edwards was murdered by Mays, how did Williams get possession of the gun that killed Edwards?
Before the DNA tests, a reasonable jury could have accepted the State’s circumstantial evidence case against Zeigler because they accepted Prosecutor Eagan’s characterization of Zeigler as so craven as to have beaten his father-in-law, Edwards to death and to have killed his longtime customer, Mays, to hide the crime. From this perspective, Williams appeared to be just another loyal, duped black man, like Mays and Thomas, who was used by Zeigler.
That premise is fatally shattered by the DNA test results, which establish that (1) Mays is the probable murderer of Edwards, (2) Thomas is a liar and probable co- perpetrator, and (3) Williams is in possession of the very gun that was used to kill the person murdered by Mays.
Williams said he put the gun that Zeigler gave him (the gun which killed Zeigler’s in-laws and Virginia Edwards) into his pocket. In fact, there was no evidence of gun residue on the pants Williams claims to have been wearing the night of the murders. Williams’ shoes were brand new and still had a price tag on the sole. The jury never knew this fact because the State delayed turning over the pants to the defense until it was too late to obtain the results for trial.
Finally, when one murder victim is shot several times, then bloodily beaten on the head while allegedly being held, and then shot to death, (Edwards), and another is shot twice and beaten to death in a blood bath, (Mays), those involved should be covered in blood. The State contended, and proved, that Zeigler was covered in blood when he ultimately emerged from the furniture store after calling for help.
If the State’s theory were correct, Zeigler’s clothes would have been virtually dripping with blood at the times Thomas and Williams claim to have seen him. Yet, Thomas never saw and never reported seeing any blood on Zeigler, and Williams only reported seeing a few “spots of blood on Zeigler’s face and clothes.” The fact that Williams did not report large amounts of blood on Zeigler destroys any credibility for his story about the events of that evening.
There is no indication from any of the witnesses that Zeigler, at critical points, ever appeared to be covered with blood until he emerges from the store at 9:20 p.m. covered with blood, “almost as if it were uniformly painted on”, as reported by Chief Robert Thompson. These facts are totally consistent with Zeigler’s explanation of what happened and totally inconsistent with the State’s explanation of how the crime took place.
The Roach Testimony.
The State’s entire case hinges on the conclusion that Zeigler killed all four victims by firing all 28 shots with 7 guns–even though there was no gunshot residue on Zeigler’s pants. Ken and Linda Roach, witnesses who heard the shooting, stated they heard rapid firing at different loudness levels, suggesting more than one person firing shots; this testimony was never heard at trial.
- Frank Smith was the man who had purchased the two primary murder weapons, a black cab driver and friend of Williams. Smith testified that he had purchased the guns for Zeigler, a man whom Smith had never met.
Smith testified that: Williams made the call to Zeigler from Smith’s apartment; Smith, who had never met Zeigler, had no idea what Zeigler’s voice sounded like and had no idea who Williams had really called.
Smith admitted under oath that it would be a fair statement to say that he had no way of personally knowing whether or not the voice on the other end of the phone was Zeigler.
- Mary Ellen Stewart testified that in April or May of 1975 Zeigler asked her if “Smitty” (Frank Smith) could get him some hot guns. According to her account, Zeigler asked her this even though he didn’t know that Frank Smith was her son-in-law. It was to Ms. Stewart’s house that Edward Williams fled on Christmas Eve night after leaving the Zeigler Furniture Store.
She also testified that she didn’t know about the relationship between her daughter Mavis Barkley and Williams. The fact that Mavis Barkley, only 20 years old, was the girlfriend of Edward Williams (over twice her age) was dealt with as common knowledge by Frank Smith.
The most interesting fact of all never came to light until after the trial, a recorded deed showing that Mary Ellen Stewart jointly owned her home with none other than Edward Williams. The conveyance is from the developer to “Edward Williams and Mary Ellen Williams, his wife.”
On closer examination we see that the Warranty Deed also contains the street address: 4549 Marabelle Boulevard in Orlando, Florida. That’s the address that Mary Ellen Stewart gives at trial as her home address. The public records of Orange County show that Mary Ellen Williams and Mary Ellen Stewart are the same person.
On page one of the 1982 Mortgage Deed (see Attachment B-3) and on Page two of that same Mortgage Deed (see Attachment B-4), the identification of the mortgagor and the notarization both read as follows: “Mary Ellen Stewart a.k.a. Mary Ellen Williams.”
Therefore, either (a) Edward Williams and Mary Ellen Stewart were married and they committed a fraud upon the court, or (b) they weren’t married and they participated in falsifying a public record.
(a) If Edward Williams and Mary Ellen Stewart were husband and wife, as they indicated in the public records of Orange County, Florida, then Edward Williams didn’t flee to the house of a casual friend on the night of the murders,but to his recent marital home!
(b) If Edward Williams and Mary Ellen Stewart were not married, then the public records of Orange County, Florida establish that these two people have a history of collaborating on production of false information.
Given the results of t
he DNA testing, which establish that Mays is the probable perpetrator of that murder, there is a substantial likelihood, if not a virtual certainty, that a reasonable jury would conclude that the testimony of Mary Ellen Stewart lacks any credibility.
- Mattie Mays becomes, with the new DNA test results, not change the survivor of an innocent victim, but the widow of a murderer. Financially, Mattie Mays had a lot riding on the claim that Mays was a victim.
New Questions Based On The Evidence Presented In 1976 And Evidence Discovered Since
- Who is the mysterious white man that met Mays and Thomas outside the store and took them to the orange grove?
Mays tell Thomas that the white man is Zeigler. If the jury had known that Mays was not an honorable man, it is virtually certain that the jury would have severely discounted Mays’s identification of the white man as being Zeigler.
- Why Are All Of The State’s Witnesses, and The Most Involved Police Officer, Robert Thompson, All Connected To Oakland, The Local Heart Of Illegal Activities in The Migrant Camps?
Edward Williams testifies that he has worked on and off for Curtis Massey in Oakland, that he is treated well by Jimmy Pitchfort and has done a little work for him.
Felton Thomas is an itinerant fruit picker who knows Mays because he has worked on his crews as recently as early 1975. Thomas also knows the mysterious white man, apparently from working in the fields out of Oakland.
Charlie Mays and his wife, Mattie Mays, work together as crew bosses and work for a white boss, Walker Powell, who lent Charlie and Mattie Mays money shortly before Christmas, and then deducted all but $39 from their last pay before Christmas, on December 23, 1975. This is a typical maneuver to pressure somebody into doing something for their boss.
Robert Thompson went from his jobs of fifteen years experience with the Florida Highway Patrol and the U.S. Border Patrol as well as bodyguard to Governor Claude Kirk of Florida to becoming the Chief of Police of Oakland. At that time Oakland police kept no records or files and carried no guns. For a man of Thompson’s experience to have taken such a position is amazing.
- There Are Critical Discrepancies Between The Original Police Report (Which Was Buried By The Prosecution Until 11 Years After The Trial And Has Never Been Seen By A Jury) And The Abbreviated Police Report And Subsequent Sworn Statement Given By The Same Officer.
One of these discrepancies completely torpedoes the State’s case. Another one, when viewed in light of other evidence hidden by the Prosecution, raises the specter of deliberate concealment of police involvement in the quadruple homicide. First, we must identify the two police reports and the history of their respective release.
- The Original Police Report was prepared by Robert Joe Thompson, Police Chief of the City of Oakland. It is notarized December 24, 1975, the date of the crime, by Charlie B. Parker.
This is a comprehensive Statement of Fact by Chief Robert Thompson, the first police officer to arrive at the crime scene, the very same officer who took Zeigler to the hospital for treatment of his abdominal wound. The Prosecution buried this police report. We shall refer to the Original Police Report as the “Buried Police Report.”
- The Abbreviated Police Report was also prepared by Robert Joe Thompson, Police Chief of the City of Oakland. It is only one-page in length, is notarized December 24, 1975, the date of the crime, by Charlie B. Parker. The report completely omits the facts that discredit the State’s case against >Zeigler and those that raise the specter of police complicity in this horrendous crime. We shall refer to the Abbreviated Police Report as the “Altered Police Report.”
- The Original Police Report was prepared by Robert Joe Thompson, Police Chief of the City of Oakland. It is notarized December 24, 1975, the date of the crime, by Charlie B. Parker.
- History And Use Of The Two Police Reports
The defense never saw the Buried Police Report until 1987, 11 years after the trial, when a Freedom of Information Act request was made by Zeigler’s second attorney. This allowed the Prosecutors to elicit sworn testimony from Chief Robert Thompson, which was inconsistent with his statements in the Buried Police Report. The defense couldn’t object to Chief Robert Thompson’s misleading testimony because they didn’t know about the Buried Police Report.
The misleading sworn testimony of Chief Robert Thompson was crucial, as it addressed the issue of whether Zeigler shot himself in the abdomen to appear like a victim of the crime, or Zeigler was a victim of the crime and was shot by someone else. The critical fact is whether the blood on Zeigler’s abdominal wound was dry or damp when Zeigler was examined by Chief Robert Thompson five to six minutes after Zeigler called for help. The State claims that after Zeigler had killed four people, he made a phone call for help, and then, knowing that he would be rescued within minutes, shot himself in the abdomen. Zeigler claims that he was in a fight for his life, was shot in the abdomen and fell unconscious to the floor, and that he later came to, found the phone and called for help.
- What Was The Misleading Sworn Testimony That Was Given By Chief Robert Thompson?
In Chief Robert Thompson’s sworn statement, which was given weeks after the crime and was used to indict and convict Zeigler, he said that when he examined Zeigler’s abdominal wound at the hospital, the blood was “dry and damp.” This critical testimony supported the State’s theory that Zeigler called for help and then shot himself. Unknown to anyone except the Prosecution, this sworn testimony was inconsistent with Chief Robert Thompson’s statements prepared within two hours of having inspected Zeigler’s wounds, in the Buried Police Report.
- Another Discrepancy, When Viewed In Light Of Other Evidence Hidden By The Prosecution, Raises The Specter Of Deliberate Concealment Of Police Involvement In The Quadruple Homicide: The Jellison Tape.
In April of 1987, Zeigler’s lawyers made a Florida Public Records Act request for the files of the State Attorney in Orlando. In the files they discovered a tape-recorded telephone interview of John Jellison. The tape had been hidden by the State Attorney’s Office, which failed to disclose anything about it before trial or even in answering requests for disclosure in conjunction with Zeigler’s appeals.
John Jellison, his parents and his sister were staying at a motel next to and behind the Zeigler furniture store on Christmas Eve 1975 and witnessed some of the happenings outside the store. Mr. Jellison told the investigator that at about 9:00 p.m. he and the rest of his family had seen a police car at the back of the store, a police officer aiming his gun toward the store over the top of the car, and had then heard shots as they were watching, and that other police cars had arrived on the scene thereafter.
The State’s investigator made plain his disappointment with Jellison’s recollection:
“[A]s long as you heard the gunshots after, you know, you saw the police car, that wouldn’t help us a bit.”
When Jellison asked if Bachman wanted to interview his mother, Bachman replied:
“Not unless, you know, you all get together and decide you heard those gunshots before you saw the police car. In that case, we’d give you a free trip back to Florida.”
Furthermore, in the Buried Police Report, Chief Robert Thompson indicates that he had “checked out of service” at 8:30 p.m. at the Kentucky Fried Chicken across the street from the Zeigler Furniture Store. He then says he wa
s there with Officer Jimmy Yawn until 8:50 p.m. This incredible “coincidence” puts Chief Robert Thompson within 100 feet of the crime scene within minutes of the approximate time when the Jellisons claim to have seen a police car at the back of the store.
CONCLUSION: If the jury at the trial in 1976 had known the new DNA test results, and had access to the information suppressed by the Prosecution, there is at least a substantial likelihood, if not a virtual certainty, that this additional information would have affected the jury’s conclusion.
Zeigler must be granted a new trial.
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