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Second man guilty in slaying of tourist

A second man was found guilty of murder Friday in the killing of a German tourist who was robbed and run over after getting lost on her drive from the airport to her hotel.

Anthony Williams, 21, and his attorney dropped their heads at the verdict. The victim's husband, Christian Jensen, grinned and nodded.

On Thursday, a separate jury convicted Leroy Rogers, 25, of first-degree murder and strong-arm robbery. They both face a mandatory life sentence of 25 years without parole when they are sentenced July 3 by Dade Circuit Judge Fredricka Smith.

Both men admitted they were stalking tourists to rob when they spotted Barbara Meller-Jensen in a rental car asking for directions on an access road off an interstate April 2, 1993.

The robbers bumped her car with their own to get her to pull over. When she got out, they grabbed her purse. With her 6-year-old son watching, the 39-year-old Berlin woman died when the fleeing car crushed her skull.

It was one of nine killings of foreign visitors within a year in Florida, and prompted more safety measures for tourists visiting Miami. The killing of Mrs. Meller-Jensen prompted rental car companies to remove logos from their vehicles and the state abolished license plates that identified such vehicles. New highway signs were posted to guide visitors through safe areas.

Jensen, who made a statement to the court, told the judge that he still feels his wife's loss and that his son still has nightmares.

But Jensen said he would support leniency for the men if they would implicate Lionel Twitty, the owner of the car that ran over Mrs. Meller-Jensen and a man whom both identified in their confessions as the purse-snatcher.

Twitty was questioned but never charged by police.

Assistant State Attorney Catherine Vogel said the investigation remained open and she could not comment on Twitty.

She also said the judge had no discretion on the murder sentence but leeway on the robbery count.

Rogers looked to the ceiling and shook his head after Jensen's offer.

"I looked straight in their eyes and spoke to them very directly," Jensen said afterward.

Jensen, who is returning to Germany today, said the men face harsher sentences in the United States than they would have in his country for a similar crime.

"I am very optimistic about your justice system," Jensen said. "I was sometimes very critical with it."

Williams told police he was driving the car, and Rogers said he was simply a passenger.

Joann Green, Rogers' mother, said her son was not a killer.

"As long as Leroy didn't run over that lady, he's innocent," she said. "He might have been in the back seat and that's it."

The widely publicized crime attracted the personal attention of Gov. Lawton Chiles, who asked the head of detectives about progress in the case, and German consular officials, who cooperated with police.

Prosecutors did not claim the killing was premeditated and did not seek the death penalty.

The prosecution case hinged on the men's confessions because little physical evidence linked them to the crime.