Court Upholds Death Sentence In Stomping Death

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Court Upholds Death Sentence In Stomping Death

Post  Jennie on Fri Jun 20, 2008 11:40 am

The state Supreme Court today upheld the conviction and death sentence of a Tampa man who stomped a woman to death at a Little League ballpark in Belmont Heights 20 years ago.

The ruling does not end appeals for Perry Taylor Alexander, 42, who could take his case to federal courts or ask the state's highest court for a rehearing, said a spokeswoman for the Florida attorney general's office.

Taylor was sentenced in 1992 -- for the 2nd time -- to die for the murder of 38-year-old Geraldine Johnson Birch. His 1st death sentence in 1989 was overturned by the Florida Supreme Court. Taylor also was convicted of sexual battery in the case.

The Supreme Court upheld the 2nd death sentence in 1994, and Taylor then returned to court with a different kind of appeal, known in legalese as a motion for post-conviction relief. A trial court denied that motion, and today's Supreme Court ruling upholds that finding.

According to the Supreme Court ruling, Taylor confessed to killing Birch but claimed that the sexual contact was consensual and that the beating from which she died was done in a rage and without premeditation after she bit his genitals during sex.

Among the claims in the motion for post-conviction relief were several related to the testimony of a prosecution expert during post-trial hearings about the victim's sexual injuries. According to the court ruling, the expert said under cross-examination that it was remotely conceivable -- "a one in a million shot" -- that the injuries came from being kicked rather than sexually penetrated.

Taylor's attorneys argued that this information should have been shared with the defense before the trial and that had the expert testified the same way, Taylor could not have been convicted of sexual battery and felony murder.

The court detailed the victim's extensive internal injuries, rejecting defense claims that the expert's post-trial testimony constituted new evidence.

The victim was beaten and stomped so severely, the Hillsborough County medical examiner testified, that she had injuries including a pulverized liver, torn spleen and kidneys, crushed pancreas, lacerated heart and bleeding brain.

Even if the expert's perceived change in testimony had been enough to call the sexual battery conviction into question, the court held, "it would not be sufficient to outweigh the evidence that Taylor committed premeditated murder or to cast doubt on his conviction for first-degree murder based upon premeditation."

The court also rejected defense assertions that Taylor's trial attorney, Nick Sinardi, was incompetent. Noting that Taylor "gave a detailed confession," the court upheld the trial judge's finding that Sinardi "made reasonable tactical decisions under the circumstances he faced and with the limited choices available."

(source: Tampa Tribune)
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