Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Condemned Pinellas man granted a hearing to consider possible new evidence

LARGO — A judge has scheduled a hearing to consider possible new evidence in the case of a Pinellas County man scheduled to be executed next month.

Senior Circuit Judge Robert Beach said that "in an abundance of caution" he would set the hearing for Tuesday in the case of convicted murderer Robert Waterhouse.

Waterhouse was convicted of killing Deborah Kammerer, whose body was found in St. Petersburg's Lassing Park in 1980. She had been raped and brutally beaten. After his conviction, Waterhouse was sentenced to death.

This month, Gov. Rick Scott signed a death warrant for Waterhouse and scheduled his execution for Feb. 15.

Waterhouse's attorney, Robert Norgard, has raised what he says are two important issues that should prevent Waterhouse from getting the death penalty.

One is that a witness has stepped forward with what he said is new information. The other is that evidence in the case was destroyed after Waterhouse's conviction.

Norgard mentioned a Jan. 5 Tampa Bay Times article which, referring to evidence given in the original trial, noted that "It all began Jan. 2, 1980, when Waterhouse was seen leaving a St. Petersburg bar with Kammerer, according to witnesses."

However, when St. Petersburg resident Leglio Sotolongo read the recent article about what the witnesses said at trial, it did not match his memory of that night. Sotolongo, 55, was a doorman at the ABC Lounge at the time and knew Waterhouse.

In an affidavit filed in court, Sotolongo says he saw Waterhouse in the bar on the night of the murder. He said Waterhouse "left the lounge with two white males" and that he "did not leave the lounge with any female."

He also says he gave this information to a St. Petersburg detective at the time who seemed "disinterested in what I had to say." He also says the detective later approached him and another man and "accused us of trying to protect a murderer."

In a brief interview with the Times Friday morning, Sotolongo said that because the case is such a serious matter, he felt compelled to clarify what he observed that night.

Norgard also pointed out that physical evidence used at trial was destroyed after Waterhouse's conviction. At the time of the case, DNA testing was not available. Now that the evidence has been destroyed, there is no way to do the DNA testing, which could prove his innocence, Norgard said in court filings.

In response to a question from Beach, Norgard acknowledged this issue already had been raised in previous appeals.

Condemned Pinellas man granted a hearing to consider possible new evidence 01/13/12 [Last modified: Friday, January 13, 2012 9:53pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays beat Orioles, but tough stretch looms that could change their plans (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tuesday was a step back in the right direction for the Rays, who halted a season-high five-game losing streak by hanging on — and we mean that pretty much literally — for a 5-4 win over the Orioles.

    The Rays’ Tim Beckham celebrates with Mallex Smith after hitting a three-run homer in the second inning for a 5-0 lead.
  2. Diaz, Taddeo win easily in special Miami Senate primaries


    Two Miami state Senate candidates who raised and spent the most in their respective primaries — Republican Rep. Jose Felix Diaz and Democratic businesswoman Annette Taddeo — notched easy victories in a special election Tuesday night.

    Republican candidate Jose Felix Diaz is surrounded by supporters after he won the primary for Florida’s Senate District 40 race. Democrat Annette Taddeo, right, celebrates her victory with supporter Venus Lovely at BJ’s Restaurant in The Falls.
  3. In live debate, Kriseman and Baker ask St. Pete: Is the city better off?



    Mayoral candidates Rick Kriseman and Rick Baker made their best pitch to voters in front of a live television audience on Tuesday night. The candidates essentially asked this: Is the city better off now than it was four years ago?

    Incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and former Mayor Rick Baker debate in front of a live television audience during the City of St. Petersburg Mayoral Debate at the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg on Tuesday evening. The event was sponsored by the Tampa Bay Times and Bay News 9. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  4. Romano: It all comes down to sewage in this mayoral race

    Local Government

    Well, poop.

    Nothing else really matters, does it?

    Schools, economic development, public safety? Pfft. The Rays stadium, affordable housing, the pier? Ack. When it comes to the St. Petersburg mayoral election, sewage is the yin, the yang and the yuck.

    At Tuesday’s debate, incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman said responsibility lies on him regarding the sewage crisis.
  5. Shooting sends man to hospital in St. Pete


    ST. PETERSBURG — Police were investigating a shooting that occurred around 4:40 p.m. on Tuesday and sent a man to the hospital.