Monday, February 13, 2012

I Vehemently Object to the Impending Execution of Robert Waterhouse

Since my previous diatribe regarding the impending execution of Robert Waterhouse, I have continued to research the case. I ran across the most recent petition for habeas corpus, the State's response, and the defense reply. You can find all those documents here.

Except for the background on the ABC Lounge, all the of the information in this posts comes from the recent habeas and the associated documents. 

In this post, I will focus on a single issue. Who saw what in the ABC bar that night. Bartender Kyoe Ginn testified for the State that she saw Robert Waterhouse and victim Deborah Kammerer leave the bar together than night near 1 AM. Since Kammerer was murdered soon thereafter, that is pretty damning evidence.

As you will learn however, two ABC doormen independently reported that Waterhouse arrived with a male friend, departed in the company of two males, and did not leave with Deborah Kammerer. The State kept this information from the defense. The defense learned that one of the employees had critical information only on the eve of the trial. The defense did not learn that the other employee had critical information until just recently, after Waterhouse's death warrant was signed.

With the new information in hand, the Waterhouse's attorneys sought and were granted an evidentiary hearing on the matter. The Court however ruled against Waterhouse. His execution is scheduled for tomorrow.

I have taken excerpts from both the defense and prosecution submissions, reorganized them into a crude chronological order, converted pronouns and surnames to proper names, and changed formatting for consistency. I have not altered any of the facts.

Everything in plain text [but not in brackets] is from one of the habeas documents. My clarifications are in brackets. My comments are in italics.

Hang on. Here we go.


On January 31, 1980, the Grand Jury for the Sixth Judicial Circuit indicted the Appellant, Robert Brian Waterhouse, for the first-degree murder of Deborah Kammerer on January 2, 1980.

Mr. Waterhouse was tried by jury, convicted as charged, and sentenced to death. 

On January 4, 2012, Governor Rick Scott signed a death warrant on Robert Brian Waterhouse for his 1980 first degree murder conviction. The execution is scheduled for February 15, 2012.

Mr. Waterhouse filed a Successor Motion for Postconviction Relief on January 9, 2012, raising two claims ... that newly discovered evidence as attested to by the affidavits of Leglio Sotolongo and trial counsel established ... the existence of newly discovered evidence requiring a new trial.

3535 North 4th Street, St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

In 1950 ABC Liquors was born; company legend has it that [founder] Jack Holloway wanted not only a name that local residents would easily remember, but one that would show up first in the phone book. By 1970, the company maintained not only a growing chain of retail stores, but an increasing number of attached “lounges” in styles from basic neighborhood watering hole, to (in later years) country and western dance bars and discotheques. ... In 1993, ABC Liquors began using the name “ABC Fine Wine & Spirits” in some of its larger locations to highlight the expanded wine selection.

I provide two Google street view images of the building below. Then I begin with the habeas excerpts. Click to embiggen.

The ABC had two entry/exit points.

The main exit was visible from the center bar.

Conversely, the center bar was visible to any doorman who worked the main exit, the front door.

The [rear] door ... was located at the end of a 30 foot hallway. There were other doors along the hallway that led to an ice closet, bathrooms, and the entrance to the package store. This exit door at the end of the hallway was not visible from the center bar or the interior of the bar.


Ms. Kammerer's Friends
The police ... learned the identity of Ms. Kammerer from two of her neighbors. These two acquaintances, Yohan Wenz and Carol Byers testified at trial that they went to the ABC lounge with Ms. Kammerer [that night]. They testified that they later left the lounge and that Ms. Kammerer remained there at that time.

Bartender Kyoe Ginn
Kyoe Ginn ... was working [at the ABC lounge] as a bartender that night.

Ms. Ginn testified that Ms. Kammerer came into the bar with a man and a woman that they later left.

Ms. Ginn testified at Waterhouse's trial that ...  she waited on, and observed, Waterhouse and the Ms. Kammerer drinking together sometime after midnight when Ms. Kammerer's friends left the lounge.

Doorman Leon Vasquez
Leon Vasquez testified that he was employed as a bouncer/id checker at the ABC lounge on [that night].

From the entirety of the evidence, it seems as if Vasquez was stationed at the front door that night, though none of the habeas documents specifically so states.

Mr. Vasquez saw Ms. Kammerer sitting at the center bar with two friends. During the course of the evening, one of the friends sought his help due to problems with another patron bothering them at the center bar.

Holy Cow! The victim (and her two friends) were having a problem with a patron at the ABC bar on the very night she was murdered. The problem was sufficiently severe that one of the trio asked the bouncer to intervene. I find no evidence that the police pursued this lead.

Mr. Vasquez also saw Mr. Waterhouse in the bar that evening. Mr. Waterhouse came in the bar accompanied by a male friend around 11:15 p.m. or so.

Doorman Leglio Sotolongo
Leglio Emilio Sotolongo was employed by ABC as a bouncer/id checker [that night].

Sotolongo told Detective Hitchcox that he was not working that night but he was there from 10:00 to 1:00 a.m.

Sotolongo was not sure if he was working and admitted that Detective Hitchcox's report which reflected that he was off that night may be more accurate.

The door that Mr. Sotolongo was working at [that night], was located at the end of a 30 foot hallway. There were other doors along the hallway that led to an ice closet, bathrooms, and the entrance to the package store. This exit door at the end of the hallway was not visible from the center bar or the interior of the bar.

Mr. Sotolongo did not know Ms. Kammerer, but may have recognized her in 1980.

Mr. Sotolongo said that he did not know Ms. Kammerer, but it was possible he saw her in the lounge as a customer.

Mr. Sotolongo knew Mr. Waterhouse as a patron of ABC and thought he lived next door to a friend. Mr. Sotolongo did not socialize with Mr. Waterhouse. Mr. Sotolongo recalled seeing Mr. Waterhouse at the ABC [that night].

Mr. Sotolongo believed that Mr. Waterhouse entered the bar at the beginning of his shift, but it could have been as late as ten.

He could not recall the exact time that Waterhouse came into the lounge but if he was working that night it would have been at the beginning of his shift at 7:00, 8:00 or 9:00 p.m.

Sotolongo's recollection regarding the arrival does not correspond with Vasquez' recollection on this issue. Sotolongo recalled Waterhouse arriving earlier, no later than 10. Vasquez recalls Waterhouse arriving at 11:15, in the company of a male friend. Sotolongo makes no mention of Waterhouse being in the company of another person.

Mr. Waterhouse came into the bar with another man.

This is consistent with Vasquez' recollection that Waterhouse came into the bar in the company of a male friend. Ginn apparently made no claim to seeing Waterhouse enter the bar, either alone or in the company of another man.

I have seen no mention of the name of Waterhouse's friend, nor any evidence that the police attempted to locate and question him.

Mr. Sotolongo believed that Mr. Waterhouse gave him $10 as he came in to repay a loan from the prior week.

He also believed Waterhouse returned $10 to him but he cannot be 100% certain it happened that evening.

When asked if he saw Waterhouse at Ms. Ginn's station, Mr. Sotolongo admitted that he never saw Waterhouse inside the bar because he could not see inside the bar from the exit where he (Sotolongo) was stationed.

Look at the pictures. Of course he couldn't see. Nor could Bartender Ginn see the rear exit.

Bartender Kyoe Ginn
Ms. Ginn testified that Mr. Waterhouse and Ms. Kammerer were regulars at the ABC Lounge.

Kyoe Ginn testified at Waterhouse's trial that she was a bartender at the ABC Lounge and she waited on, and observed, Waterhouse and the victim drinking together sometime after midnight when the victim's friends left the lounge.

Ms. Ginn testified that [sometime after Ms. Kammerer's friends left], Ms. Kammerer then began talking with Mr. Waterhouse.

Ms. Ginn ... testified ... that she served Ms. Kammerer and Mr. Waterhouse drinks.

Ms. Ginn testified that after conversing for around 30 minutes, Ms. Kammerer and Mr. Waterhouse left the bar together around one o'clock.

This would have Kammerer and Waterhouse conversing beginning sometime around 12:30 and leaving around 1.

Nowhere do I find a description of the door through which Ginn claims she saw Kammerer and Waterhouse leave. Because of the argument regarding the visibility of the rear door from the bar area, I presume Ginn claims she saw them leave through the rear door.

Ms. Ginn could see the exits. From inside the bar she could see the front exit, ... the exit to the package store and people heading down the hall to his exit.

It's not clear where Ms. Ginn would need to be "inside the bar" to see down the 30 foot hallway. While I do not have an interior layout of the building, it seems clear from the front view of the ABC Lounge the bar or lounge area is at the front and right.

No one disputes that the front door is in clear view of the bar area. Conversely, no one disputes that someone working the front door could see the bar area.

On the other hand, the prosecution suggestion that someone could have a good view of the 30 foot hallway from inside the bar may be technically correct, but only assuming that someone was standing at very edge of the bar area. It seems likely, however, that Ms. Ginn did not have a good view down the hallway. She could have, on the other hand, noticed people entering the hallway headed to the rear exit.

Doorman Leon Vasquez
Mr. Waterhouse asked Mr. Vasquez if he knew where he could find some marijuana. Mr. Vasquez set Mr. Waterhouse up with a dealer named Steve Spitzig. Mr. Vasquez watched Mr. Waterhouse leave the bar with Mr. Spitzig and Mr. Waterhouse's friend shortly after midnight.

Recall that Ginn testified that Waterhouse begin talking to Kammerer around 12:30.

At around midnight, Mr. Vasquez saw Ms. Kammerer sitting alone at the center bar.

That is not inconsistent with Ginn's testimony. Ginn (as far as I know) did not specify what Kammerer did between the time her friends left and she begin conversing with Waterhouse.

Around 12:45 a.m. Mr. Spitzig re-entered the bar alone. Mr. Waterhouse remained in his car and left with the other guy.

I am unaware of any effort by the State to locate and interview the marijuana dispensing Spitzig.

It should be noted that evidence of bags of marijuana found in Mr. Waterhouse's car was admitted in 1980.

As Mr. Spitzig came in he asked if he had time for a drink before last call.

This is a major conflict. Waterhouse cannot be in two places at once. He cannot be out in the parking lot burying marijuana while at the same time be in the bar talking to Kammerer. I see no resolution to this conflict other than Ginn or Vasquez being wrong about the time Waterhouse left and the person (or persons) with whom he left.

Mr. Vasquez maintained that Mr. Waterhouse did not come back into the bar that night.

Mr. Vasquez saw Ms. Kammerer in the bar shortly before last call. He did not see her leave.

... last call at 1:20 a.m. The doors were locked from the outside at 1:30 a.m.

Vasquez recalls Kammerer sitting at the bar alone near midnight (see above) still in the bar at shortly before 1:20. He recalls Waterhouse leaving the building around midnight with two men, and leaving the lot with one man shortly after 12:45. 

Ginn, on the other hand, recalls Waterhouse and Kammerer being together from 12:30 until they left together at 1:00.

Doorman Leglio Sotolongo
Mr. Sotolongo did not see Mr. Waterhouse while he was in the bar.

This is consistent with the bar and the rear door not being in view of one another.

Mr. Sotolongo ... saw Mr. Waterhouse leave with two white men.

This is consistent with Vasquez' recollection.

... towards the end of his shift.

Mr. Waterhouse left between midnight and 2 a.m.

Mr. Sotolongo testified [at the recent evidentiary hearing] that he saw Waterhouse leave the lounge ... sometime toward the end of his shift which was 2:00 a.m. Subsequently, Sotolongo admitted Waterhouse could have left around 12: 00 but he could have left earlier if he wasn't working because he would not have had to stay until the end of a shift.

This is consistent with Vasquez recollection that Waterhouse left (with two males) around midnight.

Mr. Waterhouse left from the hallway exit where Mr. Sotolongo was working.

Sotolongo is, as far as the habeas documents go, the only person to describe through which door Waterhouse left. From the photos I provided of the building, it seems likely that Vasquez could see someone leave through the rear door. It seems far less likely Ginn could see someone leave through the rear door.

Mr. Waterhouse did not leave with a female.

Mr. Sotolongo testified that he saw Mr. Waterhouse leave the lounge with two white males, not a female

This is consistent with Vasquez' recollection. This is inconsistent with Ginn's recollection.


Detective Hitchcox ... was with the St. Petersburg Police Department for 27 and a half years. 

Hitchcox testified that he was assigned to investigate this case in 1980. At that time his practice when conducting an interview was to get basic information first, then the interview. He would record the responses on notes, writing down anything he felt was pertinent, then write a report from his notes.

Detective Hitchcox admitted that he had the ability to record interviews, but didn't do so.

During his investigation of the instant case, he spoke to a number of people from the ABC Lounge, including Mr. Sotolongo.

During the course of the investigation, Hitchcox called Mr. Sotolongo and Mr. Sotolongo agreed to "round up as many people as he could and bring them to the station".

There were only four employees from the bar interviewed.

Bartender Gills, Doorman Vasquez, and Doorman Sotolongo are being discussed herein. I do not know the name of any fourth employee who may have been interviewed.

The only person asked to give a written statement was Kyoe Ginn, the barmaid who claimed that Mr. Waterhouse left with the victim. According to Detective Hitchcox she was important because she said something that was important about the key suspect, Mr. Waterhouse.

Hitchcox gives away that they had already decided Waterhouse to be the key suspect, even though no one from the bar had been interviewed. Hitchcox therefore considered any information that tended to inculpate Waterhouse to be important and true. On the other hand, Hitchcox considered any exculpatory information unimportant, false, and even a threat to his investigation.

Detective Hitchcox called Mr. Sotolongo on the phone and Sotolongo came down to the station on January 7, 1980.

The murder occurred on the night of January 2. 

Detective Hitchcox showed Mr. Sotolongo photographs of Ms. Kammerer and Mr. Waterhouse. Mr. Sotolongo recognized both. Mr. Sotolongo told Detective Hitchcox that he did not know when Mr. Waterhouse or Ms. Kammerer left, as it was not the type of thing he kept track of.

Mr. Sotolongo does not remember Hitchcox showing him a photograph of the victim but he would not dispute it.

Mr. Sotolongo ... claimed that he was at the ABC Lounge the night of the murder and that he saw Waterhouse leave with two white males. ... Mr. Sotolongo claimed he had told this to Detective Hitchcox in January 1980.

Hitchcox's "report" of the Sotolongo interview follows. I have spelled out the abbreviations for clarity.

"At that time I felt it was necessary to contact the ID checkers or bouncers at the bar and make contact with a Leglio E. Sotolongo who was at the bar on Wednesday, 2 Jan 80. He advised he would contact everyone else he could think of that was working that night and would respond to the station. ... He states he has worked for ABC approximately 6 months and that on Wednesday, 2 Jan 80, he was off however was in the bar from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.. He was shown a photo of the victim and he stated that he has seen her several times in the lounge however has never talked to her. He then saw several photos one of which was the suspect WATERHOUSE and stated that he knew WATERHOUSE by the name of BOB and that he comes in the bar several times a week. That he has had general conversation with this subject however does not remember when BOB left or when the victim left as this is not the type of thing he keeps track of."

It was uncontested that the State provided Detective Hitchcox's report to trial counsel prior to trial.

The defense attorneys attributed no significance to the report because it did not mention that Sotolongo saw Waterhouse arrive with a friend and exit with two white males. In other words, the defense attorneys did not see the significance of Sotolongo because Hitchcox included none of Sotolongo's exculpatory evidence in his report.

Detective Hitchcox unequivocally testified [at the recent evidentiary hearing] that Mr. Sotolongo never told him that Mr. Waterhouse left with two males. Detective Hitchcox stated that had Mr. Sotolongo made such an important statement, he would have noted it in his report as it would have been an exciting development for his investigation.

Mr. Sotolongo testified [at the recent evidentiary hearin] that he specifically told Detective Hitchcox about seeing Mr. Waterhouse leave with two men and that he might have been able to give him a more precise time then because "that was a long time ago." He denied telling the detective that he did not remember when Mr. Waterhouse or the victim left as this is not the type of thing he keeps track of.

Mr. Vasquez was contacted by the police shortly after this happened. He went to the police station and was interviewed by Detective Hitchcox. Mr. Vasquez told Detective Hitchcox about Mr. Waterhouse leaving with the two men. Detective Hitchcox responded that he didn't want to hear that, his job was to make a case and not listen to a defense.

All of the police reports from the St. Petersburg Police Department were available at the time of trial, and were also turned over by the police department and the State Attorney's Office during public records litigation associated with Appellant's postconviction proceedings.

Quick summary of that last paragraph. The State did not turn over the Vasquez interview reports to the defense before trial. They turned them over only after Waterhouse was convicted. The Defense only learned of Vasquez on the eve of the trial. They asked for an extension so that they could interview Vasquez and modify their defense accordingly. The Court refused to grant them an extension.

Several months later [after the interviews but before the trial], Mr. Sotolongo was with Mr. Vasquez at a bar called Murphy's. Detective Hitchcox came in and got into an altercation with Mr. Vasquez over his statements trying to defend Mr. Waterhouse. It ended when Mr. Vasquez and Mr. Sotolongo left. Mr. Sotolongo was disturbed enough to call Internal Affairs and report the incident.


Ms. Ginn testified that Mr. Waterhouse and Ms. Kammerer were regulars at the ABC Lounge. She further testified that after conversing for around 30 minutes, Ms. Kammerer and Mr. Waterhouse left the bar together around one o'clock. She was subsequently questioned by police. She testified that she immediately identified the Mr. Waterhouse's photo out of a group of pictures as the person who left the bar with the Ms. Kammerer on the night of the murder.

Ms. Ginn testified ... that she was a bartender at the ABC Lounge and she waited on, and observed, Mr. Waterhouse and the Ms. Kammerer drinking together sometime after midnight when Ms. Kammerer's friends left the lounge.

At trial, defense counsel introduced evidence from another ABC bouncer, Leon Vasquez, who testified that he observed Mr. Waterhouse leave the ABC Lounge around midnight with Steve Spitzig and another male to go purchase marijuana. According to Mr. Vasquez, the three men returned to the ABC Lounge about forty-five minutes later and dropped off Mr. Spitzig, but Mr. Vasquez testified that he did not see Mr. Waterhouse re-enter the lounge. According to Mr. Vasquez, he told this information to Detective Hitchcox, but the detective "told me he didn't want to hear it. His job was to make a case, not listen to a defense."

During cross-examination the prosecutor mercilessly questioned Mr. Vasquez about his brokering a drug deal for Mr. Waterhouse and his respect for the law. In rebuttal closing the prosecutor called Mr. Vasquez a liar and told the jury that if they believed Mr. Vasquez, they would have to then conclude that Detective Murry, Detective Hitchcox, Judith Bunker [a purported blood spatter expert] and Kyoe Ginn were liars. The prosecutor portrayed Vasquez as someone who had no respect for the law and whose testimony was uncorroborated.

Sotolongo did not testify at the trial. The prosecution did not want him to testify. The defense did not realize he had exculpatory information because the police report mentioned none.

Had Mr. Sotolongo testified ... much of the prosecution's attack on Vasquez would have been undermined.

The State would have had to explain how two witnesses, who were consistent in their testimony, were wrong and only Ms. Ginn was correct. Further, Mr. Sotolongo would not have been subject to the same impeachment as Mr. Vasquez. Mr. Sotolongo did not broker a drug deal, he already owned a business and was working at ABC to earn extra money to buy a house. He did not socialize with Mr. Waterhouse and did not hang out at the ABC. Mr. Sotolongo was a credible witness without the baggage carried by Vasquez.


Mr. Sotolongo was friends with Mr. Vasquez then. He knew Mr. Vasquez testified at the trial. At that time he knew that Mr. Vasquez testified that Mr. Waterhouse left with two men towards the end of the evening. Mr. Sotolongo wondered why he wasn't called as a witness, but he assumed that the system worked like it was supposed to. He gave his statement to a detective and assumed that he wasn't needed.

A story in the newspaper after the [death] warrant was signed caught Mr. Sotolongo's attention. The article said that Mr. Waterhouse left the bar with the victim and this was not correct; Mr. Sotolongo saw him leave with two men. Mr. Sotolongo talked about this with a private investigator and a lawyer that patronized his cigar shop. This led to him coming into contact with [Waterhouse's attorneys].

Detective Hitchcox reviewed Mr. Sotolongo's affidavit and stated it and his claims were false. If he had been told what was contained in the affidavit, he would have made note of it in his report. He would have written a statement about seeing Mr. Waterhouse leave with two men on his note pad. However, all his notes on this case have been destroyed. There would be no way to know exactly what questions he asked a witness.

Unless, of course he recorded his interviews and thereby preserved the evidence. Though he conceded he had the means to record the interviews, he admits that he opted not to.

On cross [during the recent evidentiary hearing] Hitchcox was adamant that "two men leaving with the suspect would be very important. We would want to pursue that. I would -- that would be something that I would get excited about as an investigator. The man told me he didn't see him leave, and there was nothing said about leaving with two men. That would have been in the report." 

The prior proceedings contradict much of Hitchcox's claims. Defense counsel was given the names of Mr. Vasquez and Mr. Spitzig by the State on the Friday before trial. [The prosecutor] told the court that he had only gotten the names the week before. He claimed that it was determined by the State that neither had any ... exculpatory evidence, but in an abundance of caution, he gave the names. He told that court that [another prosecutor] was looking at police reports when he saw the two names. They called the detective who investigated the case, who gave them "facts and circumstances which indicated that individuals had no relevant information to this case."

The prosecutor repeated that ... this [evidence] did not have to be given to the defense.

During his redirect examination during the trial Hitchcox testified that Vasquez told him about the problem guy at the bar and he turned it over to others to investigate. He admitted he talked to Mr. Vasquez alone at the police station.

Mr. Hitchcox was asked in deposition if he talked to anyone other than the defendant and those named in his report and he denied doing so.

When next asked why he didn't do a report on Mr. Vasquez, Detective Hitchcox first claimed he didn't know what was being referred to. Detective Hitchcox then demanded to see proof that he didn't do a report on Mr. Vasquez. He then claimed he didn't have the Vasquez report with him. Detective Hitchcox then thought maybe he only heard about Mr. Vasquez in depositions. He admitted he did not have a report of any interview or conversation with Mr. Vasquez, but it could be in another report. He did not recall his trial testimony about talking with Mr. Vasquez. Detective Hitchcox then claimed that Mr. Vasquez was interviewed by another officer name "San Marco", who probably did a report because Mr. Vasquez told San Marco about some guy that was with Ms. Kammerer that they investigated.

Hitchcox conceded that Vasquez was not mentioned in the January 7 report that documented the interviews with the ABC witnesses.

Detective Hitchcox's claim that he most certainly would have noted something as important as Mr. Sotolongo's claim that Mr. Waterhouse left the bar with two men because he would have been excited about such a thing and that would be something he would pursue as a detective is conclusively contradicted by his actions in this case with the witness Leon Vasquez.

While Detective Hitchcox admitted during the trial that he talked in person with Vasquez at the police headquarters and that Mr. Vasquez told him about seeing Mr. Waterhouse leave with two men, Hitchcox never reduced this to writing; Hitchcox did not put Vasquez's statements in any report. ... The State advised the trial court in 1980 that only the name of Mr. Vasquez appeared in a report, but in order to find out what he had told police, they had to go to the "detective investigating the case" and talk to him. Only then did the State learn what Vasquez had to say, which they discounted. Although Hitchcox in the evidentiary hearing tried to claim that detectives other than he would have interviewed and made reports on Vasquez, at trial in 1980 Hitchcox testified that he was the one who interviewed Vasquez and he failed to mention any other detective.

Detective Hitchcox did nothing with Mr. Vasquez -- he did no report, he did no follow up investigation, and he told the State Attorney's that Vasquez was of no value.

There is no reason to believe that in 1980 he evaluated Mr. Sotolongo any differently. It is entirely reasonable to believe that Hitchcox's attempts to hide Mr. Vasquez by failing to memorialize his statements in writing also extended to falsifying Sotolongo's statements or, at a minimum, failing to include evidence from Sotolongo that would be crucial for the defense.

Hitchcox admitted that he had the ability to record interviews, but didn't do so.

The only person asked to give a written statement was Kyoe Ginn, the barmaid who claimed that Mr. Waterhouse left with the victim.

According to Hitchcox she was important because she said something that was important about the key suspect, Mr. Waterhouse.


I haven't put together an Actual Innocence Scorecard for Robert Waterhouse, so I don't have a well-reasoned estimate of his probability of actual innocence. Simply as a gut feel, I give Waterhouse a 50% chance of being factually innocent. While that leaves a 50% chance of him being factually guilty, those odds in no way justify a conviction, must less an execution.

My objection to his execution is seriously aggravated by what I have recently learned regarding the State's effort to hide clearly exculpatory evidence from the defense. The most disturbing aspect is that the Court and the Governor are going to once again allow the police and prosecutor to get away with such egregious misconduct.

For these reasons, I vehemently oppose the execution of Robert Waterhouse.


Anonymous said...

As to the question of his factual guilt, boy this is a tough one considering he knew the victim, the hair, blood, and fiber evidence, and the fact he was in such close proximity to the victim on the night of the murder. And of course his criminal record. The anonymous tip to the police though makes the hair stand-up on my neck.

Sotolongo seems credible, after all these years I'm not sure what he has to gain from bringing these issues to light. It seems to be likely that evidence was suppressed to facilitate a conviction.


tsj said...

Tough one indeed. The hair, blood, and fiber evidence are weak given that they were only consistent. The statements are damning, but I don't trust the police to provide a fair and balanced summary of what he said when the police could have just as easily recorded the interviews. The use of the snitch causes me to doubt his guilt more than it convinces me of his guilt. The testimony of the bartender, as it turns out, is well impeached by two other employees.

What bothers me more is Waterhouse's previous murder, in which his guilt was pretty clearly established by his bloody fingerprint on the window. I don't think he should have been released from prison for that crime.

What bothers me the most is the testimony from one of his neighbors that he spent an afternoon soon after the murder washing his truck both inside and out. If that is true, I find that to be a troubling coincidence.

As you said, this is a tough one in terms of the evidence. I don't think we should, however, be executing people on such ambiguous evidence.

Anonymous said...

One of your criticisms doesn't make sense from the defense standpoint. Your argument is that the defense needs to rely on the prosecuter to tell them that one the witnesses said he left with two men. However the first question that should have been asked by the defense of his client was, "Do you have an alibi for that night" and his response would have been, "Yeah I left the bar with two males (Y and Z) and we went and got high at X spot. The defense then finds Y and Z and subpueneas(sp?) them and gets them on the stand to say we all left the bar. Did the defense try and find Y and Z?


Anonymous said...


You make a fair assumption, and it seems a motivated lawyer with sufficient resources would surface the witnesses. Still, I'm not a lawyer but I Googled 'Brady vs Maryland', the case Waterhouse cites. In this case, its makes it very clear the prosecution has an obligation to share evidence, and if they fail to do, whether in good faith or bad, they violate Constitutional due process rights. Legal issues are complicated, but it sounds like the state failed to meet their obligation so even if his lawyer failed to turn up the witnesses, it doesn't matter.

TSJ, you're spot on, you can't execute this man based on the evidence or the trial he received.


Anonymous said...

Good riddance.

Anonymous said...

While it's a grey area that prosecution did turn over the person (though late but court was okay at the time) that could refute the story and in court both sides questioned the witness about what happened to Waterhouse in the evening. The second witness only said he saw them leave the bar to make a drug deal and then one of them came back into the bar. He said he saw that at midnight which was 30 mins before the bartender saw them together. So he can't say anything about where the defendant was between 1am and the killing.

However the defense had almost one of those aha moments where all they had to do is put the person who Waterhouse supposedly drove away with on the stand and say what they did after leaving the bar.

And the other thing the defense should have done is had their expert test the blood in the car and seen if matched the same characteristics as the two people who supposedly bled in his car.


Anonymous said...

In any case, I believe that Mr. Waterhouse was executed by the state of Florida yesterday, in spite of all the doubts about his guilt. He was pronounced dead at 8.22 pm, according to the news sources I searched today....

Anonymous said...

Good points, Mike.

I read that Florida's governor has wide discretion over the signing of death warrants and the selection process is completely opaque. I can't imagine having to bear this responsibility or the process you go through to select someone to be executed but you really have to wonder why Waterhouse's number came up considering the case, Sotolongo coming forward etc.


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