A man convicted of killing two people, including the rape and murder of a 77-year-old Greenport woman nearly 46 years ago, decided not to listen to testimony today in the court battle over his scheduled execution, according to a report in the Tampa Bay Times.
While on lifetime parole after pleading guilty and serving just eight years in prison for Greenport resident Ella May Carter’s death, Robert Waterhouse was convicted of killing 29-year-old Deborah Kammerer in St. Petersburg, Fla. in January 1980. He has spent the past three decades on death row, but earlier this month Florida Governor Rick Scott ordered his execution for Feb. 15.
His attorney, Robert Norgard, raised at today’s hearing two issues he says should prevent his client from getting the death penalty, one being that a witness has come forward with new testimony. The other is a claim that DNA evidence that would have exonerated Mr. Waterhouse has since been destroyed.
Mr. Waterhouse, 65, was not in the Florida courtroom today as a witness contradicted the official account of the night of Ms. Kammerer’s murder, according to the Times report.
According to the Times story, a doorman at the lounge where witnesses in Mr. Waterhouse’s trial claimed the victim was seen leaving with him on the night of the murder, came forward saying he saw Mr. Waterhouse instead leave with two men. The doorman, 55-year-old Leglio Sotolongo, gave that account today in court.
Mr. Sotolongo reportedly said that after he saw a recent news report recounting the case, he felt it was important to come forward with his account of events. He said a friend ultimately convinced him to come forward.
The friend said, “‘It’s a serious issue.’ I agreed,” he told the Times.
A former Detective in the case, Gary Wilcox, also took the stand, denying that Mr. Sotolongo ever told him that he saw Mr. Waterhouse leave the bar with two men.
Mr. Sotolongo also testified that months after he was interviewed by the detective, Mr. Wilcox approached him and a friend in another bar and criticized them both for trying to help Mr. Waterhouse with their comments.
Mr. Wilcox denied that account.
Chief Assistant State Attorney Bruce Bartlett said there would have been enough evidence to charge Waterhouse with the murder even without testimony about who left the bar with whom, according to the Times report.