Florida AG Moody dismisses appeal blocking DNA testing for Tommy Zeigler

DNA may clear name of death row inmate, defense says

Death row inmate William "Tommy” Zeigler, photographed at age 75. (Florida Department of Corrections)

ORLANDO, Fla. – The office of Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody on Monday voluntarily dismissed an appeal meant to block DNA testing for William “Tommy” Zeigler, a 77-year-old man convicted of killing four people in 1975.

A notice of voluntary dismissal filed at the Florida Supreme Court clears the way for Zeigler’s attorneys to finally learn if DNA analysis using technology that was unavailable in the 20th Century could clear the death row inmate’s name, as they claim.

Zeigler has been on death row for more than 45 years following the massacre of his wife, in-laws and a customer of his family’s Winter Garden furniture store where the deaths occurred. Zeigler, who was also shot, has been accused by past prosecutors of staging a break-in to collect his wife’s life insurance policy.

Years on, in 2021, Orange-Osceola County State Attorney Monique Worrell agreed to release evidence that Zeigler sought to be DNA tested, yet Moody stepped in to challenge the agreement. This challenge is what Moody’s office formally dropped on Monday.

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“Can the state of Florida legally decline to support additional DNA testing? Absolutely. Can the state of Florida morally justify a decline to support additional testing? Absolutely not,” Worrell wrote in a 2019 memo to her predecessor Aramis Ayala, who had rejected the same request from Zeigler’s side.

This is a developing story. Check back with News 6 for updates.

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About the Author:

Brandon, a UCF grad, joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021. Before joining News 6, Brandon worked at WDBO.