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"TV intoxication' killer to be released early

Published Aug. 27, 2005

A man who gained national notoriety as a teenager 27 years ago when his lawyer unsuccessfully argued that "television intoxication" led the boy to murder an elderly neighbor will be get out of prison a year early.

The Florida Parole Commission voted 2-1 on Wednesday to allow Ronny Zamora to be released June 7 of this year instead of 2005 as earlier scheduled.

Zamora was 15 in 1977 when he robbed and murdered 83-year-old Elinor Haggart at her Miami Beach home. His sensational trial was one of the first to be televised. His attorney, Ellis Rubin, used a "TV defense," arguing that watching violent programs like Kojak had prompted Zamora to kill.

In an appeal, Zamora turned against his lawyer and claimed the TV intoxication argument made a mockery of his defense. A federal court upheld the conviction.

Zamora was denied parole in 2001, but the Parole Commission reconsidered his case last year after his attorneys said his behavior in the last 10 years has been excellent and he had received "glowing" reports from psychologists.

Upon his release, he will be deported to his native Costa Rica, where he will work for the country's minister of justice.

_ Wire reports