Escaped inmate convicted of killing woman

Published Mar. 28, 1991|Updated Oct. 13, 2005

A man who was charged with murder after he escaped from a prison work detail has been found guilty and a jury is considering whether to recommend the death penalty. A three-day sentencing hearing began Wednesday, a day after jurors convicted Donald David Dillbeck of first-degree murder in the June 1990 slaying of Faye Lamb Vann as she sat in her car at a Tallahassee mall.

Mrs. Vann, 44, was stabbed more than 20 times by Dillbeck when she resisted his attempt to take her car, testimony showed.

Dillbeck was serving a minimum mandatory sentence of 25 years for killing a police officer when he walked away from a work detail at a public school.

Former Gov. Bob Martinez, in the midst of an ultimately unsuccessful re-election campaign, reacted to the murder by firing three state prison workers and ordered changes in the handling of inmates serving longer sentences.

Many of those changes were later repealed.

Jurors can recommend either death in the electric chair or life with a minimum of 25 years without parole, but Circuit Judge F. E. Steinmeyer will make the final decision.

Assistant Public Defender Randy Murrell said he intended to call more than a dozen witnesses to testify that Dillbeck, 27, suffered numerous mental problems.

"I will show you that my client is worthy of some mercy," Murrell told the jury.