At Zeigler’s 1976 trial the state put forth a theory that Zeigler held his father-in-law, Perry Edwards Sr., in a headlock and bashed his head in with a linoleum roll crank handle and that is why Edwards blood was on Zeigler’s shirt. The trial prosecutor even demonstrated how Zeigler held Mr. Edwards in a headlock and swung the crank handle.
Years later in a national television documentary, the prosecution’s blood expert Dr. Herb MacDonell re-enacted the demonstration that state attorney Bob Eagan did at trial for the Zeigler jury in 1976. Click here to see the re-enactment.
Twenty five years later limited DNA testing in 2002 found no blood from Edwards on Zeigler’s shirt. Accordingly, Zeigler’s attorney requested a new trial at a hearing in December 2004.
At the close of the 2004 DNA hearing assistant state attorney Jeff Ashton, who has been on the Zeigler case for decades, argued that the blood evidence did not change anything because Zeigler was convicted for other reasons. Ashton argued, among other things, that Zeigler was convicted because his fingerprint was found inside of a ripped off latex glove tip that was found on the floor at the scene of the crime, and that Zeiger had secretly purchased life insurance on his wife Eunice. Apparently Judge Whitehead believed Ashton’s argument because he denied Zeigler a new trial.
Neither the fingerprint nor the secretly purchased insurance statements were true. These damning statements went un-refuted by Zeigler’s attorney because he was not at the trial and apparently had not studied the trial transcript. Unfortunately, Zeigler’s attorney mistakenly relied on professional ethics that are supposed to keep attorneys from lying to a judge.
There is no evidence that Zeigler’s fingerprint was in the glove tip and plenty of evidence that Zeigler’s family and his family lawyer knew he was purchasing the life insurance and had actually advised him to do so.
This false narrative devised by the state effectively denied any chance Zeigler would get a new trial.
The state of Florida’s false narrative denied Zeigler a new trial.
This false narrative fits right in with the tactics used to convict and keep Zeigler on death row for 39 years.
Evidentiary hearing granted October 23, 2015