Ray McEachern wants justice for incarcerated death row innocent Tommy Zeigler. Here, Ray challenges Florida’s 9th Judicial Circuit judges to want justice, too.
[Update 7/15/16: Ray received a few automated responses from judges who were on vacation. Nothing more. Please help by signing and sharing the Change.org petition to Florida Governor Rick Scott asking for emergency DNA testing for Tommy. Thank you. https://www.change.org/p/florida-governor-rick-scott-allow-immediate-emergency-expedited-dna-testing-for-wrongfully-convicted-william-thomas-zeigler-jr?recruiter=423668&utm_source=petitions_show_components_action_panel_wrapper&utm_medium=copylink]
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Date: July 3, 2016 at 11:18:18 PM EDT
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Subject: A Plea To the Honorable Circuit Judges of the Ninth Circuit
In August 1975 a ninth circuit judge served as a character witness AGAINST Andrew James in a criminal trial.
In the same trial William Thomas Zeigler served as a character witness FOR Andrew James.
Andrew James was not convicted.
In July 1976 that same judge AGAINST Andrew James sent William Thomas Zeigler to death row after a jury recommended a life sentence for the wrongfully convicted and gut shot Zeigler.
In 1989, a mock trial using circumstantial evidence from the 1976 Zeigler trial was presented to a national TV audience who voted by phone innocent by a wide margin.
In 1992, a book on the crime, Fatal Flaw, was published which proved Zeigler was actually innocent.
In 2003 an honorable 9th circuit judge ordered DNA testing that proved the prosecutor was wrong about the guilt of Tommy Zeigler, but for some reason a different judge ruled in 2004 that it DIDN’T MATTER.
In 2007, a Florida Supreme Court justice wrote the opinion upholding the 9th circuit judge’s 2004 decision.
That Florida Supreme Court Justice had been a friend and advisor to the Orange Co. Sheriff who ordered Zeigler to be arrested for the 1975 crime during which Zeigler was gut shot.
In July 2015 Zeigler’s long time pro bono attorney filed a petition for DNA testing using the latest touch DNA techniques.
In October 2015 the state attorney – who may have been too busy on Dolly Madison [Ashley Madison] – responded to the petition.
On March 31, 2016, the 2004 judge held a hearing on the petition.
On June 14, 2016, the 2004 judge held ANOTHER hearing on the petition.
As of today, the 2004 judge has made NO DECISION.
I urge the honorable judges of the 9th circuit to do whatever they can to bring honor back to the 9th Judicial Circuit by convincing the 2004 judge to make the honorable decision either to grant the testing or release the WRONGFULLY CONVICTED and also honorable William Thomas Zeigler!
Ray McEachern, Land O Lakes, Florida 813-909-0217
The Winter Garden furniture-store owner on death row for the Christmas Eve 1975 murders of his wife and three others is the subject of a new television documentary airing this week, which aims to make the case he never received a fair trial.
The documentary, titled “A Question of Innocence,” is about Tommy Zeigler, now 68, who has been unsuccessfully battling his murder conviction for almost four decades. Zeigler has exhausted his appeals and is now considered “death-ready.”
Jose Baez, Casey Anthony’s former lawyer, reviewed the evidence for Zeigler’s defense and appears briefly in the film.
The film, which airs Friday at 10 p.m. on Investigation Discovery, focuses largely on Zeigler’s account of the slayings, his efforts to fight the charges against him and the evidence his supporters say wasn’t available to his defense at trial.
“The truth of what happened on December 24th, 1975, may never be known,” the film’s narrator says. “But what is certain is that Tommy Zeigler was cheated of justice.”
The documentary depicts Zeigler’s account of the night his wife, Eunice Zeigler, her parents and a man named Charlie Mays were killed inside Zeigler’s store. Zeigler says he was attacked upon entering the store that night.
“I got hit over the head, I got knocked to the floor and I lost my glasses,” he says in the film. The narrator describes Zeigler finding a gun and firing at his alleged attackers “in a fight for his life” before he was shot.
Investigators said Zeigler wounded himself after the killings to pose as a victim. The motive, the state alleged, was to collect insurance policies on his wife. His arguments have been rejected numerous times, at all levels of Florida courts.
“People always ask, ‘How could somebody kill four people? That’s crazy,'” Donald Frye, the lead sheriff’s investigator who maintains Zeigler’s guilt, says in the documentary. “Well, it’s not crazy if you try to do it one at a time.”
“He lured Eunice in first; he brought her to the store,” Frye says. “In my determination she was the first one to die.”
Some of the pro-Zeigler claims presented in the documentary:
•DNA tests determined that blood found on Zeigler’s shirt, which prosecutors argued at trial was that of his father-in-law, actually belonged to Mays. His defense has argued this supports the theory that Mays was an assailant, not a victim.
In a hearing on that issue in December 2004, prosecutors argued that evidence suggested Mays, who went to Zeigler’s store to pick up a television, was actually killed last by Zeigler, in an attempt to frame him as the killer.
A judge ruled the following year that the DNA results did not warrant a new trial.
•A witness named Robert Foster appeared in an initial report of the shootings but was later explained away as an error. Zeigler’s defense says Foster did in fact exist, and he knew Mays and had committed a robbery near the murder scene.
At a 2012 hearing, the state argued that Foster’s name wasn’t hidden from the defense and “has been in this case since the very, very beginning.” Another new-trial request was denied soon thereafter.
•A new theory explored in the documentary centers on Eunice Zeigler’s brother, who according to the film was being replaced by Zeigler as executor of their parents’ will and somehow wound up with a ring missing from her body.
Of the possibility the brother orchestrated the slayings, Zeigler says: “I think it’s highly possible, given his temper.”
Despite having run out of appeals, the longtime death-row inmate says he remains hopeful.
“As long as there’s breath in my body, I’m going to have hope, and I do believe that, sooner or later, somebody with some intelligence and fairness is going to stop and say, ‘Oh, no, enough is enough,'” he says. “That’s what I believe.”