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Blood and Truth

By Tampa Bay Times

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Tommy Zeigler has been on death row for 42 years and for more than half that time, he’s been trying to convince the state of Florida to allow for DNA tests that might help exonerate him. But the state continually refuses. About 20 other men are in a similar situation, imprisoned in Florida since the 1970s or ’80s and arguing that it’s inherently unfair to deny them access to 21st century science. Leonora LaPeter Anton, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the Tampa Bay Times, and photographer Cherie Diez have followed the case for years. In 2018, they traveled around Florida and into Georgia to interview dozens of people, some involved in the police work or prosecution, others who believe in Zeigler’s innocence. 

Customer Reviews

Fascinating & Infuriating

Great podcast. The journalist reading it is a great story teller. The way the story is told gives a good balance of both sides, making it hard to definitively know what is the truth. The infuriating part is the broken judicial system, the States refusal to test the DNA and the seeming lack of good investigative police work due to bias.

The Sad State of Affairs in Florida

I read the Tampa Bay Times series on this case and I can’t say I’m surprised by the state’s refusal to consider DNA testing. Our justice system is comprised of egotistical, prideful prosecutors and their judicial compatriots. Judges and prosecutors never admit mistakes, so why on earth would they ever allow DNA testing? Anything that could prove they left an innocent man on death row will be avoided and denied at all costs. It is a MORAL IMPERATIVE that the federal government look at the insanely high rates of wrongful conviction and incarceration in this country, where those doing the charging and sentencing think all is well. When you’re seeing article every single day announcing the release of yet another innocent person after a lengthy sentence, something needs to be done. Tommy Ziegler likely did not commit this crime. The police acted irresponsibly and the trial was a disaster. ANY MAN OR WOMAN ON DEATH ROW that did not have access to advanced DNA testing during their trial (older cases or those where conviction was based on circumstantial evidence) should have the right to it, at the cost of the government itself. If THEY incarcerated these people wrongfully, THEY need to foot the bill to see if they’re indeed guilty. Florida is only one state where this is happening. It’s a nation-wide trend and it’s abhorrent. Updated to add: this case was based on rumors and speculation. Also, these supposed “witnesses” weren’t tested for gunshot residue? Their stories weren’t checked out? The prosecutor HIMSELF called Ziegler a racist. There were preconceived notions and discriminations here that led to his conviction. They should be ashamed of their shoddy police work, reliance on rumor and hearsay, and complete lack of objectivity.


I read every word of the online piece but listening to Leonora talk us through this tragic story is just so much more compelling. I hope TBT continues these multi-media offerings, it represents the type of coverage readers deserve, want and need, plus it gives reporters greater control in reporting out stories, and a more personalized way to connect with readers. More, please.

Blood and Truth
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