1. Archive

Court upholds death penalty in 1988 killing

The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the death penalty of Gregory Capehart for the murder of a 62-year-old Dade City woman, but found fault with the way he was sentenced for a burglary related to the case. The ruling stated that because the traditional sentencing guideline score sheet was not used for the burglary conviction, the sentence must be reconsidered in accordance with the guidelines.

That technicality will have no effect on Capehart's 1989 conviction for the murder of Marlene Reaves, who was found dead in February 1988 in the bedroom of her Citrus Villas apartment.

Authorities found her body during an investigation into claims by one of Mrs. Reaves's neighbors that she had been assaulted by someone who broke into her apartment.

Described during the trial as being illiterate and suffering from a severe speech impediment, Mrs. Reaves often was taken advantage of because of her handicaps, according to testimony.

Capehart became the prime suspect when authorities found his palm print on a screened window that had been knocked out of Mrs. Reaves' bedroom.

Several neighbors also reported that Capehart admitted to the killing, and one said Capehart was at the housing complex that morning.

The jury convicted the 21-year-old Capehart and recommended the death penalty, despite never hearing a taped confession that was disallowed at the trial.