Former Florida Gators football captain Earl “Tony” Joiner has reached a plea deal in a years-long murder case.
The State Attorney’s Office and Joiner’s attorney, Donna Peterson, confirmed Monday morning that they have reached a deal, but both declined to share details about the agreement. Lee County Court records show a plea hearing is set for June 5.
That hearing comes more than seven years after the death of Heyzel Obando, Joiner’s girlfriend. An affidavit obtained by The Ledger in Lakeland said that Obando was shot in the head, with one bullet entering her temple and severing her spinal cord. She was found dead on Valentine’s Day 2016 in Fort Myers at the age of 26.
Three years later, Cold Justice — a true-crime show on the TV network Oxygen — looked into the case. Soon after, in June 2019, Joiner was arrested on a charge of second-degree murder with a firearm. Authorities credited the show and its budget for helping the investigation proceed.
Joiner appeared in 47 games with 27 starts for the Gators from 2004-07. The Haines City native led UF defensive backs with 59 tackles during the 2006 national title run, and he recorded a tackle and pass breakup in the win over Ohio State in the BCS title game. Joiner, 37, was a teammate of Aaron Hernandez, the late Gators star who was found guilty of murder in 2015.
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