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Arguments heard in death appeal

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Arguments heard in death appeal


Capital Punishment
Lawton, Chiles


Death row inmate requests appeal in case two weeks before execution.


Jackie Hallifax


HIST 298, University of Mary Washington




The materials in this online collection are held by Special Collections, Simpson Library, University of Mary Washington and are available for educational use. For this purpose only, you may reproduce materials without prior permission on the condition that you provide attribution of the source.


300 dpi




Jacksonville, FL

Text Item Type Metadata


The Times-Union, Jacksonville, Friday, September 8, 1995

Florida Report
Arguments heard in death appeal
By Jackie Hallifax
Associated Press

[start of column 1]
Tallahassee— An attorney for Joseph “Crazy Joe” Spaziano asked the state Supreme Court for a chance to prove his client is innocent of the murder sending him to the electric chair in two weeks.

A lawyer for the state, however, urged the justices not to stay Spaziano’s execution on “mere speculation.”
After hearing oral arguments yesterday, Florida’s high court will make a decision at its own discretion. Spaziano, 49, is scheduled to be executed Sept. 21 for the murder-mutilation of an Orlando woman 22 years ago.

During the hourlong hearing, justices and lawyers had exchanges about testimony at a trial held nearly 20 years ago, about judicial procedure, about the role of the state’s high court in reviewing capital cases.

“The proceeding before us has taken a rather free form,” Justice Harry Lee Anstead told Spaziano attorney Michael
[end of column one]

[begin column two]
Mello. “This is the way you have approached this case before the court and it’s obviously causing us considerable difficulty.”

Mello, a Vermont law professor, has filed hundreds of pages of pleadings, before Florida’s high court, but he began his presentation by telling justices that all the issues were secondary because his client did not kill Laura Lynn Harberts. The 18-year-old hospital clerk’s body was found in an Altamonte Springs dump in August 1973.

“I believe that if I had an opportunity to prove MR. Spaziano’s innocence before a jury, he would be acquitted,” Mello said.

Anthony Dilisio, a key prosecution witness in Spaziano’s trial, recanted his testimony this year, prompting Gov. Lawton Chiles to suspend Spaziano’s fourth death warrant.

However, after an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement into the recent comments by Dilisio, Chiles said he had no doubts about the case and signed a fifth death warrant last month.

[end column two]

Original Format


Contributor of the Digital Item

DiBenedetto, Ashleigh

Student Editor of the Digital Item

Williams, Megan




Jackie Hallifax, “Arguments heard in death appeal,” HIST298, accessed January 16, 2021, http://hist298.umwhistory.org/items/show/213.