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Gerald Delane Murray - Florida
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Thread: Gerald Delane Murray - Florida

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2010

    Gerald Delane Murray - Florida

    Alice Vest, 59

    Facts of the Crime:

    On March 9, 1994, Gerald Delane Murray was convicted of first-degree murder, burglary with an assault, and sexual battery with great force. Murray was sentenced to death for the murder and life for the other two offenses. At around midnight on September 15, 1990, Murray and his friend, Steven Richard Taylor, were dropped off at a mobile home neighborhood by a friend (James “Bubba” Fisher) where the victim, 59-year-old Alice Vest, lived. A Ford Ranchero was reported stolen from a residence near the place where Murray and Taylor had been dropped off. At around 4:30 a.m., a passing motorist noticed the vehicle parked in a driveway next door to the mobile home where Vest lived. Later that day, the Ford Ranchero was found abandoned behind a used car dealership, located only a few blocks away from where Taylor lived at the time.

    That same morning of September 15, 1990, residents of the mobile home neighborhood where Vest lived discovered Vest’s badly beaten body in the bedroom of her mobile home. According to the testimony of the medical examiner, Vest had been vaginally and anally raped, strangled, and stabbed approximately 20 times. The medical examiner testified that most of the stab wounds were made with a knife, and the remaining stab wounds were made with a pair of scissors, both of which were found at the scene of the crime. The initial cause of death was ligature strangulation. Vest was alive while she was being stabbed, and she was strangled with an electrical cord after the stabbings. The examiner pointed out multiple fractures found on Vest’s lower jaw, indicating that she received several blows to the head, which were done with a bottle, metal bar, and candlestick. These items were also found at the scene of the crime. Finally, the medical examiner testified that Vest’s breasts were bruised, as a result of “impacting, sucking, or squeezing” while she was alive. In the medical examiner’s opinion, Vest was alive for approximately ten minutes from the first stabbing to the strangulation. The medical examiner was unsure whether Vest was conscious during all or any part of the attack.

    According to other trial testimony, the phone line to Vest’s mobile home had been cut, the mobile home had been burglarized, and various pieces of jewelry were missing. During trial, the State admitted hair evidence recovered from Vest’s mobile home. Hair evidence was also sent to an FBI lab in Washington, D.C., for comparison with known hair samples from three persons: Murray, Taylor, and Vest. The hair expert from the FBI concluded that the hairs found on Vest’s nightgown and body were pubic hairs that had the same microscopic characteristics of Murray’s hairs. Taylor was excluded as a possible source of the hairs.

    Additional evidence at the trial revealed that, approximately six months after his indictment for Vest (November 22, 1992), Murray escaped from Duval County Jail and was accompanied by a fellow inmate, Anthony Smith. Smith testified for the State that Murray confessed to the rape, robbery, and murder of Vest. On June 9, 1993, approximately seven months after his escape, Murray was captured in Las Vegas, Nevada. At the time of his arrest, he was carrying two false identification cards.

    Murray was re-sentenced to death in Duval County for the third time on June 26, 2003.

    Co-defendant information:
    Steven Richard Taylor (DC# 288500)
    Taylor was convicted and sentenced to death for first-degree murder, 15 years for burglary of a dwelling, and 27 years for sexual battery. Taylor was tried separately for his offenses (CC# 91-2456). For more on Taylor, see: http://www.cncpunishment.com/forums/...rida-Death-Row

  2. #2
    Senior Member CnCP Legend JLR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Factors Contributing to the Delay in Imposition of Sentence:

    It took over three years for Murray’s Direct Appeal to be decided by the Florida Supreme Court. Furthermore, Murray’s retrial with the Court took approximately four years to decide on another retrial, given that the Court had reversed his convictions, vacated his sentences and death sentence, and remanded for a new trial twice.

    During his direct appeal, Murray withdrew counsel representation from various attorneys and was appointed replacement attorneys by the Circuit Court. Murray’s retrials also had different presiding judges.

    Case Information:

    Murray filed a Direct Appeal to the Florida Supreme Court on 04/20/94. He raised numerous issues. First, Murray claimed the trial court abused its discretion in ten ways: by permitting the state to peremptorily challenge three jurors; in denying Murray’s motion to suppress hair evidence seized pursuant to an allegedly defective search warrant; in allowing the state’s expert to testify about the results of DNA typing because the state’s method of DNA typing and probability calculations do not meet the Frye test for admissibility; by admitting hair evidence recovered from the victim’s body and from the victim’s nightgown because the evidence had been tampered with; in denying Murray’s motions for continuance at trial and penalty phase; in admitting evidence of Murray’s pre-trial escape, theft of automobiles, and possession of false identification; in excluding the testimony of three defense witnesses concerning Murray’s true motive for escape; in overruling Murray’s objection to the standard heinous, atrocious, or cruel instruction and denying Murray’s requested instruction on that aggravator; in rejecting Murray’s statutory and nonstatutory mitigating factors; and, in admitting hearsay evidence concerning Murray’s prior violent felonies at the penalty phase.

    Second, the prosecutor’s comments during the guilt phase closing argument deprived Murray of a fair trial. Third, the evidence at trial was insufficient to support Murray’s convictions. Fourth, the trial court erred in finding the especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel aggravating factor. Fifth, the trial court improperly doubled the felony murder and pecuniary gain aggravating factors. Sixth, the trial court erred in finding that the murder was committed for pecuniary gain. Seventh, the prosecutor’s comments during the penalty phase closing argument deprived Murray of a fair trial. Eighth, section 921.141 (7), Florida Statutes (1995), which allows presentation of victim evidence in a capital sentencing proceeding is unconstitutional. Ninth, the trial court’s use of Murray’s contemporaneous convictions for burglary and sexual battery to support the felony murder aggravating factor violated Murray’s right against double jeopardy. Tenth, the trial court improperly instructed the jury regarding its role in the sentencing process. Eleventh, the record does not support the death penalty. Twelfth, Florida’s death penalty statute is unconstitutional because electrocution constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. Thirteenth, Murray’s death sentence is disproportionate. Finally, the trial court erred in enhancing Murray’s sentence for burglary and imposing it to run consecutively to his death sentence. On 04/17/97, the Court reversed Murray’s convictions and remanded for retrial. The Court questioned the admissibility of DNA evidence used against him because no semen or fingerprints were found at the scene to connect Murray to the crime; Murray’s case relied heavily on extensive DNA evidence.

    On 03/19/99, Murray was resentenced to death in the Circuit Court. On 04/29/99, Murray filed a Direct Appeal (Retrial I) to the Florida Supreme Court, citing the following issues: (1) the trial court did not properly admit the hair evidence related to slide Q42; (2) the trial court did not properly admit the hair evidence related to slide Q20; (3) the trial court did not properly exclude evidence of a phone call during the trial between the state expert and the defense; (4) the trial court did not properly conclude that the DNA evidence meets the Frye Standard; (5) the trial court did not properly admit collateral crime evidence; (6) the trial court did not properly deny the motion to exclude the DNA evidence where the hair was consumed by the test; (7) the trial court did not properly deny the motion for judgment of acquittal based on failure to prove a prima facie case of first degree murder, burglary with an assault, and sexual battery; (8) the trial court abused its discretion by denying appellant’s discovery request; (9) the trial court did not properly admit appellant’s confession regarding how his hair came to be found in the victim’s house. On 10/03/02, the Court reversed Murray’s convictions, vacated sentences and death sentence, and remanded for a new trial because the testing of DNA evidence in his case did not meet scientific standards.

    On 06/26/03, Murray was resentenced to death in the Circuit Court. On 07/14/03, Murray filed a Direct Appeal (Retrial II) in the Florida Supreme Court, citing the following issues: (1) the trial court was unreasonable in permitting the admission of slide Q-42 into evidence; (2) the trial court was unreasonable in permitting the admission of slide Q-20 into evidence; (3) the trial court erred in its ruling concerning the testimony of FBI expert Dr. Dizinno; (4) the trial court erred in denying Murray’s motion to dismiss the indictment; (5) the trial court erred by denying Murray’s motions to interview all grand jurors and depose the prosecutor and Detective O’Steen as witness to the grand jury proceedings; (6) there was insufficient evidence to convict Murray of the offenses charged in the indictment; (7) the appellant demonstrated that the trial court’s finding that the prosecutor provided a race-neutral reason for peremptorily challenging an African-American juror was erroneous; (8) the trial court erred in not declaring a mistrial due to alleged juror misconduct; (9) the trial court reversibly erred when it instructed the jury on an “abiding conviction of guilt”; (10) the trial court erred by allowing the prior trial testimony of the medical examiner and Juanita White to be read to the jury; and (11) the death sentence in this case is not proportional. On 11/04/08, Oral Arguments were held. On 01/30/09, the Florida Supreme Court affirmed the sentence of death. On 02/16/09, Murray filed a Motion for Rehearing, which was denied on 02/26/09. On 03/16/09, the Florida Supreme Court issued a mandate that proceedings be had in accordance with their opinion rendered on 01/30/09.

    On 06/01/09, Murray filed a petition seeking review of a non-final order in a death penalty proceeding in the Florida Supreme Court. The petition was denied on 09/29/09.

    Murray filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court on 06/26/09. This petition was denied on 12/08/09.

    On 10/11/10, Murray filed a 3.851 Motion in the Circuit Court. This motion is currently pending.

  3. #3
    Administrator Helen's Avatar
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    Jan 2013
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    FBI errors could impact Jacksonville man facing death penalty

    Jacksonville, FL — A Jacksonville man gets the death penalty for the brutal rape and murder of a woman in her Mandarin home- but news that the FBI admits to flawed hair analysis in hundreds of cases nationwide change that.

    This week, the Justice Department and FBI pledged a full review of FBI laboratory protocols and procedures. An investigation found flawed hair analysis testimony in hundreds of criminal cases, with hundreds more still under review.

    WOKV confirmed with the State Attorney’s Office that one local case, that of Gerald Murray, could be affected.

    Murray is currently on death row for the 1990 rape, burglary, and murder of 59-year-old Alice Vest. According to the conviction, Vest was strangled with a cord or belt, stabbed at least two dozen times, and beaten with a metal bar, candlestick holder, and broken bottle. Murray and another man, Steve Taylor, were accused of the crime. Pubic hair on the scene was found to have the same “microscopic characteristics” as Murray, according to the case layout by the Florida Supreme Court. He was also linked to jewelry stolen from the victim’s home.

    Murray allegedly confessed his involvement to a man he escaped prison with, saying he broke in to the house after Taylor convinced him to, had the victim perform oral sex on him, and then went to find items in the home to steal. He claimed he came back and found Vest had been stabbed, but wasn’t dead, so together the men strangled her to death.

    This death sentence is actually the result of the fourth trial Murray has faced on these charges. The Florida Supreme Court timeline of the case shows that in 1994 Murray was first convicted and sentenced to death, but that was ultimately reversed because of “erroneous qualification of an expert witness who testified as to DNA evidence and the improper admission of DNA evidence at trial.” Murray’s 1998 trial ended with a hung jury. He was again tried in 1999, convicted, and sentenced to death.

    Again, however, the Florida Supreme Court reversed the conviction because of the improper admission of DNA evidence.

    The ruling dealing with the 1999 conviction shows specific concerns about the handling of the hair evidence in the case.

    Murray’s fourth trial was in 2003, and he was again convicted of first-degree murder, burglary with assault, and sexual battery.

    The conviction was again appealed by Murray’s defense, but the Florida Supreme Court upheld his conviction and sentence. The ruling we’ve obtained shows hair evidence was again an issue raised on appeal, but the Court believed the prosecution presented new evidence in the fourth trial which cleared up prior issues that warranted overturning the conviction.

    The State Attorney’s Office tells WOKV they were notified about the potentially flawed FBI hair analysis in this case in 2013. At that time, there was already a hearing set for a motion by the defendant for post-conviction relief. This potential analysis issue was added on to that pending hearing, which is scheduled for November.

    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

    “There are some people who just do not deserve to live,”
    - Rev. Richard Hawke

    “Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence"
    - Edgar Allan Poe

  4. #4
    Moderator Ryan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Newport, United Kingdom
    Fellow jail escapee's testimony against Death Row inmate in 1990 Jacksonville murder now in question

    By Larry Hannan

    Nothing is simple in the death-penalty case of Gerald Delane Murray.

    Murray, 45, has been put on Death Row three separate times for the 1990 murder of Marilyn Vest. He is now asking a Jacksonville judge to throw out his conviction, and the case has become bogged down over numerous issues, including a witness who appears to recant his testimony.

    Circuit Judge Virginia Norton, who is hearing Murray’s motion for a new trial, repeatedly said the case needs to get going. But this month she reluctantly agreed to delay the case again after prosecutors and defense attorneys both said they needed more time before an evidentiary hearing could occur.

    Norton said the next time she can oversee the hearing, which will likely take at least a week and might end up being two weeks, is September 2016.

    Murray broke out of jail in the early 1990s before his first criminal trial with Anthony Markus Smith, and it was months until he was recaptured. Smith later testified against Murray saying he told him about Vest’s murder while both were fugitives.

    Police and prosecutors said Murray and friend Steven Richard Taylor assaulted, stabbed, strangled and raped the 59-year-old grandmother in her Mandarin home. Vest, who lived down the street from Murray, later died.

    Taylor is also on Death Row.

    But in a letter to Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda from prison, Smith now says he may have learned about the case by watching an episode of “America’s Most Wanted” that profiled Murray when he was a fugitive.

    “At this time I find myself pondering how this show (“America’s Most Wanted”) may have influenced what Murray actually said to me,” Smith said in his letter. “Not saying I lied, but I find myself not being sure about what was actually said.”

    Smith was later convicted of the murder he was in jail for and sentenced to life in prison.

    In the letter, Smith appears angry that prosecutors haven’t tried to get him out of prison as payback for his testifying against Murray.

    “Even when Murray sent an investigator to see me in prison, I stood strong and revealing nothing that would compromise your case against Murray,” Smith wrote.

    Smith also says de la Rionda “lied about the promises you made me in the past” when he previously testified in post-conviction motions in Murray’s case.

    The letter was signed “A friend of someone unknown” but the envelope listed Smith as the sender. De la Rionda said he’s satisfied the letter came from Smith.

    De la Rionda, who has been the lead prosecutor on this case since 1992, turned over the letter to Murray’s lawyers after he received it, as he is required to do under the law.

    Defense attorney Rick Sichta said the letter questions the whole basis of Murray’s guilt and shows that the entire conviction and death sentence should be thrown out.

    “Smith has admittedly been lying, deceiving and perjuring himself to this court, other 4th Judicial Circuit judges, the State Attorney’s Office and anyone else who has unfortunately listened to him for years,” Sichta said in court filings.

    Sichta also told Norton that Murray’s legal team has long suspected Smith got his information from “America’s Most Wanted” and now Smith has confirmed it.

    De la Rionda said Smith has been the subject of defense attacks for a long time, and he’s confident when Smith testifies again he will reiterate that Murray confessed to him.

    He said he also believes this is his way of expressing his anger at not getting out of prison.

    Sichta has asked Norton to find Smith in contempt of court. That action has drawn criticism from prosecutors.

    The defense is attempting to disqualify Smith as a witness, said Assistant Attorney General Charmaine Millsaps.

    “Your honor has the right to find him not credible,” Millsaps said while speaking to Norton. “But you can’t disqualify him.”

    The Supreme Court has already thrown out Murray’s conviction and sentence twice because of questionable lab techniques used in analyzing DNA evidence from hairs found at the crime scene.

    Issues involving evidence gathering are also a part of Murray’s motion for a new trial, with Sichta arguing that much of the physical evidence has proven to be unreliable due to problems that existed at the FBI crime laboratory where the evidence was examined.

    If Norton denies the motion for a new trial Murray will get an automatic appeal with the Florida Supreme Court.

    In 1992 while awaiting trial, Murray, Smith and another Duval County jail prisoner escaped by climbing through an air-conditioning duct. Smith and the other man were caught within weeks, but Murray remained at large for more than 10 months before his capture. He contacted the Times-Union several times to profess his innocence and offer to turn himself in if he was assigned better defense counsel. He was eventually arrested in Las Vegas, complete with a fake identification.


  5. #5
    Administrator Helen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Man convicted 3 times of 1990 rape, murder wants new trial

    Gerald Murray's 1st convictions overturned by Florida Supreme Court

    By Ashley Mitchem

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Almost 26 years and four trials after a Mandarin woman was raped and murdered, a man convicted of killing her is seeking yet another new trial.

    Gerald Murray's first two convictions in the 1990 rape and murder of 59-year-old Alice Vest were overturned on appeal. An attorney is now appealing his third conviction and death sentence, claiming the FBI's analysis of hair in the case was faulty.

    The Florida Supreme court reversed Murray's first two convictions on evidentiary issues, but he was found guilty after a third trial in 2003. Prosecutors said Vest was stabbed more than 24 times before she was strangled.

    The Supreme Court upheld that conviction.

    Murray's defense lawyer was in court Friday afternoon arguing for another new trial, citing an FBI announcement last year that serious errors were made when it analyzed hair samples in hundreds of cases nationwide.

    "In this case, we believe the evidence shows he didn't do it or they can't prove it (beyond) reasonable doubt," defense attorney Rick Sichta said. "A main witnesses is recanting to the state in a letter and we have the FBI saying some of their testimony regarding the hair evidence is invalid."

    The prosecutor said the defense is trying to make Murray's previous lawyer, Richard Kurtz, look bad to get a new trial.

    "The Florida Supreme Court complimented him (saying) that he did a very good job," Assistant Sate Attorney Bernie de la Rionda said.

    Circuit Judge Virginia Norton was not expected to rule Friday night.

    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

    “There are some people who just do not deserve to live,”
    - Rev. Richard Hawke

    “Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence"
    - Edgar Allan Poe

  6. #6
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    State of Florida v. Gerald Delane Murray; Gerald Delane Murray v. Julie L. Jones, etc.; and Gerald Delane Murray v. State of Florida

    In today's opinions, the Florida Supreme Court AFFIRMED the trial court's orders and DENIED Murray's petition for habeas relief.
    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    "Y'all be makin shit up" ~ Markeith Loyd

  7. #7
    Senior Member CnCP Legend JLR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    He did managed to get penalty phase relief on a Hurst issue.

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