Towards saving Tommy: a five year old press release, and a pressing request

Defrosting Cold Cases - Zeigler

Defrosting Cold Cases – Zeigler

I began this blog in September of 2010, so I didn’t publish the July of 2010 press release (below) about detective Kevin Kalwary’s findings in William “Tommy” Zeigler’s case. I’d received the release from Tommy’s “Citizen Advocate” Ray McEachern and forwarded it, without comment, to then-Governor Charlie Crist as well as journalists from Scripps TCPalm newspapers, Florida Today and the Orlando Sentinel, who paid it no mind. When it comes to frame-ups, Central Florida’s mainstream media is all for protecting public servants, not the general public, which invariably prefers putting actual criminals behind bars, especially behind the bars on death row.

The importance of the press release has increased, as William “Tommy” Zeigler remains framed, and Ray McEachern is still issuing press releases: another detective – Lynn-Marie Carty – has found additional irrefutable evidence of Tommy’s innocence in slaying his wife, in-laws and Charlie Mays by – among other things – finding Tommy’s wife’s missing wedding ring in another state. Tommy couldn’t have traveled, as he too, had been shot.

Tommy’s tormenter-in-chief Jeff Ashton isn’t a fan of facts. He prefers sleaze, aside from the Ashley Madison variety.

Using a knowingly staged photograph, Ashton’s team accused Tommy of committing a homosexual act on a corpse. Ashton’s team later leveled the lie of homosexuality at another framed innocent, Gary Bennett. Despite Ashston’s all-around vulgarity, he is continually coddled by the Orlando Sentinel instead of truthfully bludgeoned: Their coverage of Tommy’s frame-up was and is “dastardly,” even worthier now of prosecution for conspiracy to violate rights than it was on May 4, 2003.

Please ask the Orlando Sentinel to correct their dastardly coverage of Tommy’s frame-up. All of it. Thank you.

————————————

From: Susan Chandler
Date: July 26, 2010 9:21:30 AM EDT
To: michael.goforth@scripps.com, Larry Reisman <Larry.Reisman@scripps.com>, Ken Ward <ken.ward@scripps.com>, mreed@floridatoday.com, John Glisch <jglisch@brevard.gannett.com>, Scott H Maxwell <smaxwell@orlandosentinel.com>, Willoughby Mariano <WMariano@orlandosentinel.com>
Cc: Governor Charlie Crist <Charlie.Crist@eog.myflorida.com>
Subject: Press Release: Well-Known Tampa P.I. Pleads for Justice for Death Row Man

Well-Known P.I. Asks Governor to Intervene in Death Row Case

Contacts: Ray McEachern, 813-294-6772, Cathie Korfanty, 850-878-7618

Tampa – A Tampa, Florida, private investigator and former investigative reporter with local TV stations has asked Governor Crist to intervene in the interest of justice in the case of death row inmate, William Thomas (Tommy) Zeigler.  Kevin Kalwary won over 50 national and state journalism awards as an investigative reporter for Tampa affiliates WTSP-Channel 10 and WTVT-Channel 13 before he joined the law firm of Cohen, Jayson and Foster where he worked for several years before becoming a private investigator.  In February, a group of Tommy Zeigler supporters who claim that Zeigler, who has been on death row for 34 years, is completely innocent of any crime, retained Kalwary to investigate the case.  Zeigler was convicted on circumstantial evidence in 1976 of the Christmas Eve murder of four people, including his wife and in-laws, in his own furniture store in Winter Garden, Florida.

Kalwary, who was unfamiliar with the case, became convinced of Zeigler’s innocence also, and wrote a letter about Zeigler which was hand delivered to Governor Crist in early July.  The letter asked him to take a personal look at the unusual circumstances that convinced Kalwary that Mr. Zeigler has never received justice from the courts. The letter closes with this impassioned plea:

“If Tommy Zeigler was ever to be executed, or even allowed to die in prison, for crimes that he did not commit, Florida’s judicial system would forever be tainted with the blood of an innocent man and the public knowledge that justice is nothing more than a word in our state, and not an ideal and a right for citizens to trust in and rely upon if ever they faced a similar situation.”

The Kalwary letter was also hand delivered to Alex Sink, the democrat candidate for governor, Bill McCollum, the republican candidate for governor, and other members of the Executive Clemency Board also were sent copies.  Kalwary relates several facts that led him to conclude Zeigler was probably innocent of the murders.  Among them are the facts that the trial judge, Maurice Paul, and the current judge, Reginald Whitehead, have conflicts of interest that should have prevented them from presiding.  Judge Whitehead, who denied Zeigler’s request for release in 2004 based on DNA evidence that seemed to exonerate him, failed to disclose that he is married to an Assistant State Attorney working for State Attorney Lawson Lamar, who has twice written letters trying to have Zeigler executed.

Lamar was involved in the original trial as an assistant state attorney in 1976.  He became Orange County sheriff in 1981 and has been Orange County state attorney since 1988.  Kalwary points out that a petition for more DNA testing of blood that was not tested for the 2004 appeal sits in limbo in Judge Whitehead’s office after 11 months of waiting for a ruling.  Lamar opposes additional testing despite the fact that he claimed in 2004 that blood not tested might inculpate Zeigler rather than exculpate him.

A copy of Kalwary’s five page letter to the governor is available upon request.  For more information about the Zeigler case, go to http://www.freetommyz.com.

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About Susan Chandler

Now-disabled interior/exterior designer dragged into battling conviction corruption from its periphery in a third personal battle with civil public corruption.
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