Zeigler’s DNA hearing ends without a decision. Today Mr. Zeigler‘s DNA hearing took place in Orange County, Florida, before Judge R. Whitehead. Mr. Zeigler himself was not present. However, he was available by phone if he was needed by the State, otherwise, his presence was waived in person and by phone.
Passionate opening statements were made by defense attorney John Houston Pope. Mr. Pope, on the case since 1991, impressed on the court the importance of testing Mr. Zeigler’s clothes. Mistakes had been made before, see my post “Let’s talk blood” and the 2002 DNA report.
The testing in this case is crucial for the simple fact that from the four dead people three were blood related with the same blood type A. Moreover, the non-related fourth dead person also had blood type A!
Mr. Pope called Senior Ass. State Attorney General Nunnelly’s opening “procedural gobligook.” Basically, the state repeated the “they had their chance” to ask for this before and that “this has got to stop.” He conveniently did not mention that suppressed evidence and advances in forensic technology were never recognized in this case.
An expert in blood stain analysis, Mr. Paul E. Kish, “identified four areas of blood on the shirt Zeigler wore that night that he believes should be tested for DNA. They include blood spatter on the center front of the shirt; the left sleeve with a saturation stain; the right front shoulder with spatter; and the outside right cuff with spatter.
The expert also recommends testing spatter staining on the left cuff of Zeigler’s pants and a saturation stain on the upper left thigh region of the pants. When Nunnelly asked whether the lack of Edwards’ blood on Zeigler’s clothing would definitively mean he didn’t kill the man, Kish said, “It means the evidence does not support that he was there when the blood was being spattered.”
Speaking for the people was Senior Assistant Attorney General Kenneth S. Nunnelly. Mrs. Dorothy Sedgewick was at the table with Nunnelly. She did not participate in the trial other than to press Nunnelly about getting the expert to say that even if the DNA is granted it won’t be exculpatory. Mr. Kish however pointed out that he thought it would be exculpatory as the sample would show one way or another if Zeigler was in close proximity to Perry Edwards when he was beaten!
The hearing focused mostly on evidence relating to Perry Edwards, Zeigler’s father-in-law. During the initial trial, Zeigler was handed a death sentence in his murder based on the fact that blood type A was found underneath Zeigler’s shirt’s left arm pit. However, that stain later proved to be from Charlie Mays’ blood. Perry Edwards and Charlie Mays both had blood type A. In 1975 however, DNA was not available.
Mr. Zeigler’s other defense attorney Dennis Tracey, on the case since 1986, made the point that allowing the testing will for once and for all prove whether Zeigler lied so many years ago.
After listening to both sides, Judge Whitehead reserved his ruling for a later date. Nunnally told the judge twice [the judge told him that he heard him the first time] that they would “raise issues” about the testing if it is granted.