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Old 11-13-2010, 09:34 AM   #76
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Originally Posted by TracyLynnS
But I am wondering, was Eunice an only child? Would murdering her and her parents have made Tommy the beneficiary of the life insurance on his wife plus put him in a position to inherit from his inlaws, since Eunice was now dead and couldn't inherit anything from her parents' passing?
Eunice had a brother who confirmed that his parents went to Florida from Georgia to visit Eunice and Tommy for the holidays, not to rescue her from a violent closet homosexual. So I'm assuming the brother would have receieved the inheritence from Perry & Virginia Edwards.
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Old 11-13-2010, 12:29 PM   #77
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I can't quite decide on this case. I lean more towards innocent.

The prosecution's story makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. However, that story was only using the known "facts" of the case to come up with a scenario for TZ being the killer.

TZ's story makes more sense over all. The thing I can't quite figure out is they imply that the police set him up, and possibly even commited the murders themselves. I know there have been suggestions posted on this board, but going completely off of the UM segment, there is no clear motive for the police to set him up. I know that UM only has a short time to present a case, but it seems if you are going to make allegations accusing the police, you should at least present something to back up what you say. The closest they came was when they mentioned that there was bad blood between TZ and the judge before the trial.

I will have to take some time to look into other information on this case before I form a final opinion. If I had to choose right now though, I have to say innocent, or at least give the man a new trial.
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Old 11-13-2010, 01:06 PM   #78
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Could he get a fair trial today? How many of the witnesses and people involved in the case are still living? What about Vernon Davids? Is he still in practice? I don't think he is still in Winter Garden. Is the evidence still available?

Even though I think he is guilty, I think he was denied a fair trial because of Judge Paul. But I wonder would he be able to get a fair trial after all these years?
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Old 11-13-2010, 02:42 PM   #79
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The thing I can't quite figure out is they imply that the police set him up, and possibly even commited the murders themselves. I know there have been suggestions posted on this board, but going completely off of the UM segment, there is no clear motive for the police to set him up. I know that UM only has a short time to present a case, but it seems if you are going to make allegations accusing the police, you should at least present something to back up what you say. The closest they came was when they mentioned that there was bad blood between TZ and the judge before the trial..
This is the gist of the story as to why people may have been looking to harm/kill Tommy Zeigler on the night of December 24, 1975:

There were alleged loan sharks taking advantage of the poor black migrant workers (fruit pickers) in Winter Garden. These loan sharks would loan money out to the fruit pickers (since most of the workers had little to no money until the day they got paid) and then would charge them a ridiculous high amount of interest. In other words, the loan sharks would loan these people somewhere between 20-60 bucks a week and then collect their whole paycheck (hundrend and some approximately) at the end of that week. And it was alleged that some police officers knew of this illegal activity but would not investigate further due to either being in on the scheme or just being paid off by one of the loan sharks. Zeigler was an outspoken opponent of the loan sharks and also of the way the poor blacks were being taken advantage of by the whites who had some wealth and power in the community. Zeigler first brought the attention of the loan sharks up at the trial of Andrew James, a black bar owner in Winter Garden. James was trying to be pushed away by rival whites who wanted to gain access to his bar and liquor license. James was the only black man to own a bar in the area and almost all of his customers were poor blacks from the area (including the fruit pickers). Rivals of James knew they could further push their loan sharking scheme if they took over James' bar. So an undercover beverage agent allegedly went into James' bar one night and bought some marajuana from him, which resulted in him being arrested and tried. Andrew James swore his innocence, and Zeigler spoke out on his behalf. It was at the James trial that Zeigler publically brought out the loan shark operations and how he felt Andrew was being framed to further the scheme. (This most likely resulted in the reason why people were looking to do harm to him that night on Christmas Eve, IMO)

Judge Paul was a witness to the prosecution at the Andrew James trial. I'm not quite sure as to what Paul testified on but I think since he was considered a "character witness" he pretty much trashed the character of Andrew James and said he could conceivably believe he would sell drugs at his bar. Tommy Zeigler was the defense's character witness who rebuffed everything Paul said and also brought up the loan sharking. So its quite possible that as a result of Zeigler's testimony he rifled a lot of feathers (maybe even Judge Paul's) and that's why he was targeted that fateful night.

(On a side note, I came upon a website for an Orlando based newspaper which said that a judge granted Zeigler and evidentary hearing set for next year in February based off of new DNA evidence. The article was dated this year so I don't think this already happened but as for the DNA evidence I wonder what that is???)
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Old 11-13-2010, 05:00 PM   #80
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I came upon a website for an Orlando based newspaper which said that a judge granted Zeigler and evidentary hearing set for next year in February based off of new DNA evidence. The article was dated this year so I don't think this already happened but as for the DNA evidence I wonder what that is???
I'm not positive, but I thought the new DNA evidence was that the blood originally found on Tommy Z and argued to belong to his father in law (thus proving he killed his father in law) was later tested for DNA. It showed that the blood did not belong to the father in law.

I think also that blood on another actor in the crime was tested, showing that it also didn't belong to who they said it did during the first trial. I'm definitely not positive about this at all. It's been a while since I read the info.

The free tommy z site will probably have the DNA information you're interested in. Those pages of the site are kind of intesive reading, tho. http://www.freetommyz.com/
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Old 11-13-2010, 05:43 PM   #81
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Thanks for posting that Cars. That makes the police connection make more sense. Also gives them reason to put TZ away on death row at the time. If police were at best looking the other way and at worst directly involved in the loan shark operations, they could be in deep $#%* if that info came out. Kind of makes me lean even more towards TZ being innocent.

I would love to see him get a new hearing. Maybe, just maybe that could help get the ball rolling on other similar cases of innocents wrongly convicted.

I am all for capital punishment, but in cases where there is contoversey of some kind, I dont think it should apply. Too many chances of getting the wrong person put to death.
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Old 11-15-2010, 01:20 PM   #82
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I can see where there is enough evidence to cast doubt on Tommy's guilt. I've already stated I have believed in his guilt all these years. Guilty or not, I don't think he got a fair trial, and like I said also, after all this time has passed, I still doubt it for various reasons that he could.

But, I have to ask- if the cops and a few dirty locals wanted Tommy dead, why the bloodbath at the furniture store, and so many people killed for no reason? They could have easily taken Tommy out when he was alone. And if the cops were dirty as many believe, they could have covered up the evidence and his death would have remained unsolved.Like Shorty Reddick
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Old 11-15-2010, 01:37 PM   #83
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Killarney Rose
I can see where there is enough evidence to cast doubt on Tommy's guilt. I've already stated I have believed in his guilt all these years. Guilty or not, I don't think he got a fair trial, and like I said also, after all this time has passed, I still doubt it for various reasons that he could.

But, I have to ask- if the cops and a few dirty locals wanted Tommy dead, why the bloodbath at the furniture store, and so many people killed for no reason? They could have easily taken Tommy out when he was alone. And if the cops were dirty as many believe, they could have covered up the evidence and his death would have remained unsolved.Like Shorty Reddick
It's been implicated that Charlie Mays was in on the murder of Shorty Reddick too, but that's only a rumor. And as for the bloodbath at the store, no one was expecting Eunice and her parents to be there. Zeigler was going to be there by appointment, which is why I think the assailants were there waiting when Eunice and her folks arrived before Zeigler. Perry Edwards put up one hell of a fight with whoever killed him (no blood from Edwards was found on Zeigler) which is why I think the Edwards's and Eunice surprised the assailants that night.
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Old 11-15-2010, 05:57 PM   #84
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Originally Posted by TheCars1986
It's been implicated that Charlie Mays was in on the murder of Shorty Reddick too, but that's only a rumor. And as for the bloodbath at the store, no one was expecting Eunice and her parents to be there. Zeigler was going to be there by appointment, which is why I think the assailants were there waiting when Eunice and her folks arrived before Zeigler. Perry Edwards put up one hell of a fight with whoever killed him (no blood from Edwards was found on Zeigler) which is why I think the Edwards's and Eunice surprised the assailants that night.
Good point. I am finding this discussion very interesting after believing the case was so cut and dried for all these years. I'm still not convinced of his innocence though.
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Old 11-15-2010, 07:06 PM   #85
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Good point. I am finding this discussion very interesting after believing the case was so cut and dried for all these years. I'm still not convinced of his innocence though.
Yes Zeigler's account of what happened has several holes, but when you dissect the state's case, Zeigler's stands up a hell of a lot better. And from what I've read a lot of people in the area of Winter Garden just kind of accepted Zeigler was guilty based off of what was being said around town sometimes blurring rumor for fact.
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Old 11-15-2010, 10:39 PM   #86
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Personally I think that if you could go back in time and be a fly on the wall watching what actually happened, it would likely be very different than either the state or TZ version in many areas.

Obviously, if he is guilty then he would be the one firing the gun. If innocent, he would be attacked by someone else. But all the little details would likely turn out like in a TV show when they do an event told from several different points of view.

Obviously, the state was not there as a witness. So to some extent TZ is the only real witness to the crime in whatever scenario you go with. But what bothers me is that it seems the prosecution simply shrugged off potential evidence if it didn't fit their theory of what happened. What was the deal with the guy in the hotel that saw a cop outside the store with a gun drawn and moments later gunshots more than 20 minutes before the police were officially there?

Whatever you choose to believe in that instance, the prosecutor on UM gave the absolute wrong answer when that bit of info was tossed his way. He said something to the effect of "Well, since he says it happened before the police report says that the police arrived there, its completely irrelavant." WTF? Are you serious? If there had been subtitles at the bottom of the screen translating that guy's BS for that statement it would have said: "Well, that person's statement does not fit what we have decided actually happened, so we are just going to ignore it."

If information like that is brought up in a case like this, it is the prosecutor's job to make his theory fit the known evidence and witness statements. Not design his theory and pick and choose only the evidence that supports that theory.

I am still not convinced one way or another on this case, but either way, they have to at least acknowledge the evidence and witness statements. I still call unfair trial at the least on this case.
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Old 11-16-2010, 10:55 AM   #87
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Yes Zeigler's account of what happened has several holes, but when you dissect the state's case, Zeigler's stands up a hell of a lot better. And from what I've read a lot of people in the area of Winter Garden just kind of accepted Zeigler was guilty based off of what was being said around town sometimes blurring rumor for fact.
And there were lots of rumors flying at the time about Tommy.In 1975 this was the biggest thing to happen in Winter Garden since we got a MacDonald's a few years earlier. Although it is in the shadow of Disney World( I could hear the fireworks every night from my living room, and they can be seen from Dillard street if you are in front of what used to be the Zeiglar furniture store facing south). WG at the time was still very much small town America. Nowadays, drivinf around down there, you can't tell when you leave one small town and enter another, and it all seems to be a part of Orlando, but back then they were very much apart with rural areas that no longer exist separating them.Not meaning to ramble, but the mindset was still very rural and a great deal of the population settled there during the depression when it was an agricultural community. They came from places such as south AL and Georgia, and brought that way of thinking with them. So it is no surprise that it was still a very segregated community with a Klan presence and possibly corrupt law enforcement. Tommy was arrested and charged with murder, therefore he must be guilty.

About the guy at the Winter Garden Inn- I am not saying he didn't see the officer with his gun drawn, I just believe he might be mistaken about the time he saw the cop .
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Old 01-24-2011, 03:12 PM   #88
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I just watched this segment and I don't recall ever seeing it before. All my comments below are based on nothing but the segment.

1) "The Police did it" theory makes no sense. What would their motive be? The segment said Tommy kept money at the store, but it couldn't have been that much (I would estimate a few grand, maybe $10k at most). Are you going to tell me that the entire Police department, the judge, and the district attorney's office all plotted to kill 4 people for just a few grand? I find that highly unlikely. And I find it even more unlikely that not one of them has talked. I realize there are corrupt cops out there, but it's very difficult to keep a conspiracy this large quiet. (After reading some posts in this thread I see Tommy had been involved in some cases and may have ruffled some feathers in town, but I still don't see anything severe enough to warrant murder and a cover-up).

2) The wife had her hand in her pocket. The police are right on this: she was surprised and did not attempt to defend herself or flee. This means she was killed by someone whom she either didn't see or whom she trusted.

3) There were several witnesses whom Tommy claims fabricated their entire testimony. To hear Tommy tell it, these guys are criminal masterminds who must have been plotting this for ages (stealing his gun in advance, etc.). His story doesn't float because at least one of the guys has zero criminal history. Further, what reason would they have to even get involved in the trial at all if they were guilty? It would be better just to shut up and keep quiet.

4) Two different blood types were on Tommy's shirt. In the mid 70's there was no DNA testing that amounted to anything, so I would like to know what the DNA testing has revealed since.

5) This is the thing that is most suspicious to me: what was everyone even doing at the store in the first place? The whole scene just reeks of "set-up" from the get-go. It was 9 P.M. at night and the store was closed. I can understand Tommy being there (and maybe even his wife), but what in the heck were the in-laws doing there? It sounds an awful lot to me like Tommy wanted to off the in-laws as sort of an ancillary benefit of his crime (people hate their in-laws, right?).

6) As others said in this thread, if the Police wanted Tommy dead, why not just off him when he's alone? It would be simpler and lead to a lot fewer complications down the road.

7) Tommy had the biggest motive -- 500,000 of them.

Ultimately, I agree that this is largely a he said she said type of case and "beyond reasonable doubt" is hard to obtain. Tommy does have going for him the fact that he passed the poly and that there was no reason for him to kill the in-laws if his wife's insurance was his goal.
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Old 01-24-2011, 04:36 PM   #89
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I just watched this segment and I don't recall ever seeing it before. All my comments below are based on nothing but the segment.

1) "The Police did it" theory makes no sense. What would their motive be? The segment said Tommy kept money at the store, but it couldn't have been that much (I would estimate a few grand, maybe $10k at most). Are you going to tell me that the entire Police department, the judge, and the district attorney's office all plotted to kill 4 people for just a few grand? I find that highly unlikely. And I find it even more unlikely that not one of them has talked. I realize there are corrupt cops out there, but it's very difficult to keep a conspiracy this large quiet. (After reading some posts in this thread I see Tommy had been involved in some cases and may have ruffled some feathers in town, but I still don't see anything severe enough to warrant murder and a cover-up).

2) The wife had her hand in her pocket. The police are right on this: she was surprised and did not attempt to defend herself or flee. This means she was killed by someone whom she either didn't see or whom she trusted.

3) There were several witnesses whom Tommy claims fabricated their entire testimony. To hear Tommy tell it, these guys are criminal masterminds who must have been plotting this for ages (stealing his gun in advance, etc.). His story doesn't float because at least one of the guys has zero criminal history. Further, what reason would they have to even get involved in the trial at all if they were guilty? It would be better just to shut up and keep quiet.

4) Two different blood types were on Tommy's shirt. In the mid 70's there was no DNA testing that amounted to anything, so I would like to know what the DNA testing has revealed since.

5) This is the thing that is most suspicious to me: what was everyone even doing at the store in the first place? The whole scene just reeks of "set-up" from the get-go. It was 9 P.M. at night and the store was closed. I can understand Tommy being there (and maybe even his wife), but what in the heck were the in-laws doing there? It sounds an awful lot to me like Tommy wanted to off the in-laws as sort of an ancillary benefit of his crime (people hate their in-laws, right?).

6) As others said in this thread, if the Police wanted Tommy dead, why not just off him when he's alone? It would be simpler and lead to a lot fewer complications down the road.

7) Tommy had the biggest motive -- 500,000 of them.

Ultimately, I agree that this is largely a he said she said type of case and "beyond reasonable doubt" is hard to obtain. Tommy does have going for him the fact that he passed the poly and that there was no reason for him to kill the in-laws if his wife's insurance was his goal.
Good post. Here's my take on your points:

1) I don't necessarily agree with the whole everybody was in on it cover up. However, if at least one police officer was involved in the crime somehow that would make it easier to conceive a cover up. I think there was one person sinister enough to want Zeigler out of the way due to the whole loan shark monopoly going on in the area. And I think if there was a mastermind pulling strings in this scheme, he attracted his accomplices with the promise of monetary gain from the store. A few grand kept around in the store may not seem like a lot today, but back in 1975 to a poor fruit picker who made no more than $80 a week it certainly would appeal to them.

2) This point really could go either way, IMO. She could have easily been surprised by an unknown assailant who shot her from behind, or snuck up on her just as likely as her being shot by someone she knew.

3) What this case boils down to is Zeigler's testimony or Edward Williams's testimony. The remaining "witnesses" could all be traced back to Williams. And Zeigler never had a prior criminal record either. Edward Williams was found with the principal murder weapon in his possession, and his vehicle was broke down at the scene of the crime. Not to mention that his account of arriving at the store and having Zeigler attempt to murder him to which he fled to a store directly across the street allegedly took over 45 minutes (when it should have been no longer than 5), tells me he has something to hide. Why he wasn't looked at as a possible suspect more thoroughly is beyond me.

4) I think the newer DNA data has shown that Perry Edwards's (Zeigler's father-in-law) blood did not show up on Zeigler's shirt, but it was that of Charlie Mays. Which supports Zeigler's account of a fight with Mays (and another man) in the back of the store.

5) The fact that Perry and Virginia Edwards were at the store that night was to pick out a recliner for a Christmas gift. I think Zeigler was going to give it to them for free, all they had to do was show up and pick it out. Edward Williams was there to help Zeigler deliver the recliner and other last minute gifts. Since Zeigler was busy at the time doing some last minute chores, he had Eunice drive her parents over to save time. (Zeigler and Eunice were to attend a Christmas party later that evening and he figured instead of having Eunice and her parents wait around for him to arrive at the house and the go to the store, it would be quicker for everyone to just meet there.)

6) I believe this was the original plan. I think Zeigler was set up by people who knew he was going to be in the store that night, and he was the sole target. When Eunice and her parents arrived I think there may have been an attempt to subdue them and in the ensuing panic from everyone, someone got trigger happy and after murdering them the cover up was thought up. It would explain why when Zeigler entered the store he was assaulted first and not shot right away until after he put up a decent fight. It's also an interesting note that Perry Edwards had gun shot residue on his hand implicating that he fired a weapon as well.

7) People have killed for a lot less. But if Zeigler truely wanted the money, why involve his in-laws, and Charlie Mays? Why not just hire someone to off Eunice and give a cut of her insurance to the hitman? And why do it on his property? If he was so cold and calculated like the prosecution painted him, he sure did make enough blunders in his plotting that pretty much put the magnifying glass over him.

The fact that Zeigler was in no debt in any way is another tell tale sign to me that the motive was not about money. His business was thriving, and he also owned several properties in the area that were making money as well. If Zeigler's motive was to collect the insurance money on Eunice, he could have easily accomplished this a lot more cleanly. He could have hired a poor migrant worker to do the job, and it certainly could have been done in a better location than his furniture store. Even if he planned on it occurring at the store, he could have easily had Eunice go with him to the store while the hired killer was waiting and when they arrived and Eunice was killed, he could have pulled one of his many guns from the store on the killer and shot him. There would be no witnesses, and Zeigler's story would hold up a lot better than having four people murdered in the store with 50+ bullet holes and five different guns used. The fact that he allegedly attempted to "set up" Charlie Mays and Felton Thomas is another red flag to me. He also allegedly let Felton Thomas get away. If Zeigler had already murdered his wife and in-laws and was dead set on framing Thomas and Charlie Mays, all he had to do was pull a gun on both of them and take them into the store. It was that simple. But he let Felton Thomas run away while he and Mays entered the store. If Zeigler is guilty, he is the biggest moron on the planet. UM wouldn't even film a segment about the case until Zeigler passed a polygraph that they set up. While both theories seem to have enough holes to ride a horse through, IMO there's more evidence in favor of Zeigler's innocence than his guilt.
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Old 01-25-2011, 01:15 AM   #90
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The whole thing about the "wife's hand was in her pocket" is a little bit of a stretch. First of all, I know this implicates that she knew her attacker and was not surprised at all but she could have been blindsided and secondly she could have easily had her hand put back in her pocket after she was shot, no one seems to think about that.

I always tend to believe Ziegler. His story made more sense and let's face it, while there is a lot of doubt about Darlie Routier and Jeffrey MacDonald, I think there is a bigger movement in this case towards him being innocent. Robberies DO happen at a business location, that is not unusual.

And would Tommy not find a better night than Christmas Eve to commit these murders had he done them? It just doesn't make sense.

Lastly, to all the people who think people like Steven Page are being protected by the police let me remind you of Tommy Ziegler. In the segment it is mentioned that he knew the mayor and the police of chief on a first name basis. He was a regular church attender which means he'd have known his minister well. Yet he was still charged and convicted despite knowing a powerful politician, a powerful law enforcement person and seemingly a man of the "cloth", all three men who would have had good reputations in the community.
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