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State high court upholds man's death sentence

Published Aug. 24, 2005

The state Supreme Court upheld the death sentence of a man who murdered two women more than 20 years ago in Pinellas County.

James Winkles, 64, is on death row for the 1980 murder of 19-year-old Elizabeth Graham of St. Petersburg and the 1981 murder of Margo Delimon of Clearwater.

Both women were raped multiple times over several days before Winkles killed them. The murders went unsolved for many years until Winkles, serving a life sentence for the 1982 kidnapping of a woman who survived and escaped, confessed.

Winkles also claimed to have killed dozens of other women.

In Thursday's unsigned ruling, the Florida Supreme Court rejected Winkles' appeal, which challenged the constitutionality of Florida's death penalty law based on a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that struck down a similar but not identical death penalty in Arizona.

Florida's high court upheld the state's law in October 2002 after hearing the first appeal based on the Arizona ruling.