‘She had this coldness:’ Florida judge reflects on ‘Black Widow’ trial

Judy Buenoano was the only woman in the U.S. to die in electric chair

ORLANDO, Fla. – Former Chief Judge Belvin Perry recently reflected on his decades-long career with the hosts of Florida’s Fourth Estate.

Perry is well known for presiding over the Casey Anthony case, but long before that high-profile case he was the lead prosecutor in the Judy Buenoano murder trial.

Perry says he was part of the team that transported Buenoano to jail in Orange County after she was arrested for fatally poisoning her husband, United States Air Force officer James Goodyear.

“This was in the summer. I never been in the car with an individual and it felt like wintertime in there. I have never been around a person as icy and cold — I felt it. I never experienced anything like that since then,” Perry said.

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Perry said Goodyear’s 1962 death was not the only one “The Black Widow” was responsible for.

“She poisoned her husband, she poisoned her common-law husband, she poisoned her son, and she attempted to poison her fiancé, and then blew his car up,” he said.

Still, when the Orange County Sheriff’s Office was transporting her back to Orlando, Perry said, “She was as cool as a cucumber, and she had this coldness about her that would actually make you shiver.”

Perry said it was 10 years after Goodyear’s death when the trial began, and he didn’t know what angle the defense team would take.

Quickly he said he realized they were attempting to pin the poisoning on Agent Orange, a toxic herbicide used during the Vietnam War.

But an expert witness made it clear, “He would actually have to drink a 30-gallon drum of Agent Orange (in order to die from it),” said Perry.

A jury convicted Buenoano of murder and she was executed in Florida’s electric chair in March 1998.

She was the first woman to be executed in Florida since 1848.

Learn more about Former Chief Judge Belvin Perry’s role in the “Black Widow” trial and his experience with Judy Buenoano on Florida’s Fourth Estate.

The podcast can be downloaded from wherever you listen to podcasts. You can also watch Florida’s Fourth Estate on News 6 on Mondays and Fridays at 3:30 p.m. or anytime on News 6+.

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About the Author:

Tiffany produces the News 6+ Takeover at 5:30 p.m., Florida's Fourth Estate and Talk to Tom.