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Jury Foreman Says Panel Rushed Decision To Get To ‘Happy Hour’

February 22, 1985

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ A jury that recommended the death penalty for a convicted murderer rushed through deliberations so some panelists could get to a local bar’s ″happy hour,″ the jury foreman says.

The foreman’s note complaining about rushed deliberations prompted the condemned man’s attorney to ask the judge to question jurors in the case.

Circuit Judge James Foxman agreed to question the jury after Carmen Corrente, the attorney for Robert A. Teffeteller, 31, contended that jurors should be queried to determine whether their recommendation for a death sentence was ″tainted.″

The 12-member jury recommended last Jan. 25 that Teffeteller be executed for the 1979 murder of Ormond Beach pharmacist Peyton Moore III. Foxman followed the recommendation and imposed the death sentence.

But Corrente requested that all jurors be questioned after jury foreman Helen Ronca wrote him criticizing the actions of her fellow jurors.

Mrs. Ronca said the panel didn’t consider the evidence seriously enough, that some jury members had joked and others had said they wanted to get it over with to keep a ″hot date″ or attend ″happy hour″ at a local bar.

After a Wednesday hearing, Foxman said he would hold a session next week to question jurors and clear up any ″hint of suspicion.″

However, Foxman said, ″I don’t see anything that appears improper.″

Juror Thomas Rudderow said Mrs. Ronca’s letter was ″all poppycock as far as I’m concerned.″ He described the deliberations as ″a very sober experience.″

Ormond Beach juror Donald Basford agreed with Rudderow.

″I never did hear it,″ Basford said when asked about the ″happy hour″ statement. ″I feel they were serious about it.″

Another juror, Mark Lear, said ″someone might have mentioned (happy hour) at a prior time, but I did not hear that during the deliberation.″

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