40 years of questions about death-row’s Zeigler show problems with case, death penalty
I’m not 100 percent sure Zeigler is innocent. But I’m sure not convinced he deserved to die.
Remember: Neither was his jury.
An irony is that, if the judge had simply let the jury’s verdict stand — and sentenced Zeigler to life in prison — Zeigler’s case probably wouldn’t still be hounding Ashton.
Orlando Sentinel reporter Scott Maxwell is wrong: no one is hounding Jeff Ashton; Jeff Ashton has hounded Tommy, libeling and slandering him with a false portrayal of homosexuality, supported with a knowingly-staged photograph … a false portrayal that Ashton’s prosecutorial team recycled: while Ashton was simultaneously leading the prosecution in the Casey Anthony trial; his team falsely claimed that Gary Bennett was a homosexual, too, after an incurably tainted transfer from Florida’s 18 judicial circuit.
Reporter Scott Maxwell is wrong: he wrote “… only when we execute people are there no do-overs.” If Tommy dies behind bars, just as when any other incarcerated innocent dies behind bars, there are no do-overs.
Maxwell is wrong: it isn’t Tommy Zeigler that keeps changing his story – he’s never wavered from the answers he gave pre and post lie detector test, administered with truth serum. It’s Jeff Ashton whose story continually changes, Ashton who has “made a mockery of the criminal justice system.”
Maxwell is wrong: there isn’t “a” book written about Tommy; there’s at least three … Philip Finch’s Fatal Flaw, Leigh McEachern’s The Appearance of Justice and Alice de Sturler’s Zeigler, through Vidster’s eyes. Each author described different aspects of the case that indicated Tommy’s innocence. Both Leigh McEachern and Alice de Sturler are among the living, and would likely have returned a phone call from Maxwell. The detective who’s been putting countless pro-bono hours into Tommy’s case, Lynn-Marie Carty, would likely return Maxwell’s call, too, as she has made herself available for interviews. Leigh McEachern’s brother, Ray, would definitely have returned a call from Maxwell … he’s been Tommy’s “Citizen Advocate” for a long, long time, and has sought out the media’s attention. This is some of what Ray would have said to Maxwell, in his own voice. (Note: link will likely only remain live a day or so, if you’d wish a copy of the mp3 file, please request one via commenting).
Maxwell is wrong: crime columnist Charley Reese wasn’t the only former Orlando Sentinel employee who was totally convinced of Tommy’s innocence, nor the most credentialed – former Orlando Sentinel Editor-in-Chief David Burgin went to great lengths to atone for the “dastardly” reporting about Tommy on his watch. It was Burgin that posed the question, “Was The Sentinel’s poor performance in fact part of some conspiracy?” I’m inclined to believe that Ashton’s leveling the same lurid lie at Gary Bennett that he leveled at Tommy would have changed Burgin’s question into a statement of fact that conspiracies (plural) were afoot, considering that Ashton’s circuit had no business handling any other circuit’s case involving disgraced dog handler John Preston – like Gary Bennett’s – after Ashton’s circuit’s use of Preston (with FBI participation) to condemn hapless schizophrenic Linroy Bottoson, who was executed in 2002.
Maxwell is wrong: there was no “perceived bias” on Tommy’s original judge Maurice Paul’s part. Paul’s bias was a ice cold, stone hard fact. The two had been on opposite sides of whether a black bar owner retain his liquor license, and Tommy had prevailed … the owner kept his license. Paul was not happy, and Paul was not forgiving. Paul told others he was going to fry Tommy before the trial began. It’s in Leigh McEachern’s book … McEachern was Orange County Under-sheriff at the time.
Maxwell is wrong: Florida doesn’t lead the nation in wrongful convictions. Per the downloadable report from The National Registry of Exonerations, Florida ranked number 7 in exonerations between 1989 and 2011. Illinois led by 69 exonerations, and Florida hasn’t caught up. What Florida instead leads the nation in is wrongful wrongful death row convictions, perhaps the most horrific of which was Frank Lee Smith’s, who died months before his DNA exoneration.
Maxwell is wrong: on the date his story went to press, September 26, 2015, there was no “consent” left on the table for Ashton to grant as regards Tommy’s motion for “touch” DNA tests. Ashton’s opposing argument had already been filed and recorded by the Orange County Clerk.
Maxwell is wrong: Jeff Ashton is not convinced about Tommy’s guilt in strong opposition to Terry Hadley, one of Tommy’s attorneys, as Maxwell described. Were Ashton convinced, he wouldn’t have opposed Tommy’s requests for additional DNA tests, and – among many other trial “mistakes” – would have been incensed about the “typographical error” that hid a witness from Tommy’s attorney, and much more. Ashton is not at all convinced about Gary Bennett’s guilt, either, which would be public knowledge if either Centurion Ministries or the Innocence Project of Florida had made an appropriate row over Ashton’s acceptance of improper correspondence from Brevard Judge John Dean Moxley and Ashton’s homosexuality slur. Scott Maxwell used to write about Gary’s frame-up. It bears explanation that he stopped.
Tommy and Gary’s life stories are ones of faith and uncommon courage, and so is Gary’s. Ashton’s life story is one of bad faith and all-too-common-in-Florida corruption.
Scott Maxwell’s life story is becoming more like Jeff Ashton’s by the day.
Because Rick Scott was made aware that the transfer of Gary Bennett’s Brevard County prosecution to Orange County was incurably tainted and refused to vacate his Executive Order so as to make justice available to Gary, Scott is where the buck stops, so even if you don’t agree with every issue listed on this petition, please sign it. Tommy and Gary have been wrongly incarcerated for a combined 71 years; Ashton’s accusations of homosexuality have knotted their false convictions together. In looking at their cases, the Department of Justice will have an easy time pinpointing not only the congealed conviction and peripherhal corruption between Florida state attorneys offices and within our courts, but the congealed conviction and peripheral corruption between supposedly competing and supposedly ethical broadcasters and newspapers. Thank you.