Teen Convicted of Tourist Attack to Seek New Trial
PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) _ Lawyers for a teen-ager convicted of murdering a British tourist at a Florida highway rest stop two years ago are seeking a fourth trial for their client.
A jury Saturday convicted John ``Billy Joe″ Crumitie after a third trial for the shooting that drove foreign tourists away from the Sunshine State. The case was moved to Pensacola after juries in two other cities deadlocked.
Defense attorneys immediately asked for a new trial on grounds that the 50-member jury pool included only five blacks. Crumitie, 18, is black and the victim, Gary Colley, 34, of Bradford, England, was white.
Escambia County, which includes Pensacola, is 20 percent black. Assistant state attorney Tony Guarisco said race was not an issue and the jury pool was selected at random.
The jury had two blacks, nine whites and one Asian-American.
``It’s horrible, it’s horrible,″ Crumitie’s mother, Susie Mae Johnson, said after the verdict. ``The town ain’t nothing but a damn redneck town and Monticello is just the damn same.″
Colley died and his longtime companion, Margaret Jagger, 37, was wounded in a bungled robbery Sept. 14, 1993, at an Interstate 10 rest stop near Monticello, about 35 miles east of Tallahassee.
Crumitie testified in all three trials that he was home asleep at the time, but no evidence was introduced to corroborate his story.
Two co-defendants testified Crumitie was with them, and rest stop attendant Donald Spivey identified him as one of two young men he saw shoot into the tourists’ rented car. Two jail inmates, including a cousin of Crumitie, a neighbor and his hairdresser testified he confessed to them.
The two co-defendants were allowed to plead guilty to lesser crimes in exchange for their testimony.
``I’m relieved it’s all over,″ said Colley’s mother, Brenda Armitage. ``The last two years have been very hard.″
The jury found Crumitie guilty of first-degree murder, second-degree attempted murder, attempted armed robbery, robbery and shooting into an occupied vehicle.
The state did not seek the death penalty, so Crumitie faces life in prison without parole for at least 25 years on the murder conviction alone. Clark set sentencing for Oct. 19.
The death of Colley, one of 10 foreigners slain in Florida during a 12-month period, was followed the next year by a 12 percent decline in international tourism. It also prompted the state to post armed guards at interstate rest areas and create a Department of Juvenile Justice.