Leo Jones

Leo Jones

Leo Alexander Jones (April 13, 1950 – March 24, 1998), a black man, was convicted of the sniper killing of white police officer Thomas Szafranski, 28, and sentenced to death. The crime occurred on May 23, 1981 in Jacksonville, Florida. The main witness against Jones later recanted. Two key officers in the case had left the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office under a cloud, and allegations that one of them beat Jones before he supposedly confessed had gained credence.

A retired police officer, Cleveland Smith, came forward and said Officer Lynwood Mundy had bragged that he beat Jones after his arrest. Smith, who described Mundy as an "enforcer", testified that he once watched Mundy get a confession from a suspect by squeezing the suspect's genitals in a vise grip. He said Mundy unabashedly described beating Jones. Smith waited until his 1997 retirement to come forward because he wanted to secure his pension.

More than a dozen people had implicated another man as the killer, saying they either saw him carrying a rifle as he ran from the crime scene or heard him brag he had shot the officer. Even Florida Supreme Court Justice Leander Shaw, who formerly headed a division of the state attorney's office, wrote that Jones' case had become "a horse of a different color". Newly discovered evidence, Shaw wrote, "casts serious doubt on Jones' guilt". Shaw and one other judge voted to grant Jones a new trial. However, a five-judge majority ruled against Jones and Jones was executed by electric chair one week later, on March 24, 1998, at the age of 47.

ee also

* List of individuals executed in Florida
* Capital punishment in the United States

References

* [http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/article.php?scid=17&did=449 Death Penalty Information Center]
* [http://www.cnn.com/US/9803/24/florida.executions/index.html Florida executes second killer in 2 days] . "CNN" (1998-03-24). Retrieved on 2007-11-20.
* [http://www.dc.state.fl.us/oth/deathrow/execlist.html Execution List] . "Florida Department of Corrections". Retrieved on 2007-11-22.
* [http://www.dc.state.fl.us/InmateReleases/inmateaction.asp?DataAction=GetInmate&DCNumber=041468 Inmate Release Information Detail - Inmate 041468] . "Florida Department of Corrections". Retrieved on 2008-05-29.


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