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Thomas Ziegler to get a DNA Test

A Florida prosecutor has agreed to allow DNA testing on evidence that helped convict a man for the 1975 murders of his wife, in-laws and an acquaintance at the family’s furniture store and landed him on death row.Monique H. Worrell, who was elected state attorney for the Orlando area in November, has agreed to allow testing that Tommy Zeigler and his many supporters believe will show he is innocent of gunning down the four on Christmas Eve.

Many prosecutors have contended Zeigler staged the massacre as a robbery to collect his wife’s life insurance policy. Worrell’s office agreed to give all evidence in the case to Zeigler’s attorneys for testing at a lab certified by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors. The agreement will now go before a judge but is expected to be approved.

Zeigler’s attorney wants to test his clothing to see if it has the victims’ blood on it and the fingernail clippings of his father-in-law, who fought his killer before being shot. A previous test in 2001 failed to detect any DNA from the victims on four small patches of his clothing, but prosecutors blocked attempts to do a full test, saying other evidence ties Zeigler to the murders.

Zeigler is hoping and praying that the test results come back with enough evidence to force the court to grant him a new trial. Worrell reviewed the case when she led the office’s conviction integrity unit and concluded Zeigler had not received a fair trial.

The killings happened at W.T. Zeigler Furniture in Winter Garden. Prosecutors contended at Zeigler’s 1976 trial that he lured his wife, Eunice, to the store to kill her, and her parents, Perry and Virginia Edwards got in the way. Zeigler knew Charlie Mays was killed, too. They had all been shot. Zeigler then shot himself in the stomach to make it appear that he, too, was a victim. They say he staged the robbery so he could collect on a $500,000 life insurance policy he took out on his wife just months before.

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