Man convicted 3 times of 1990 rape, murder wants new trial

Gerald Murray's 1st convictions overturned by Florida Supreme Court

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Almost 26 years and four trials after a Mandarin woman was raped and murdered, a man convicted of killing her is seeking yet another new trial.

Gerald Murray's first two convictions in the 1990 rape and murder of 59-year-old Alice Vest were overturned on appeal. An attorney is now appealing his third conviction and death sentence, claiming the FBI's analysis of hair in the case was faulty.

The Florida Supreme court reversed Murray's first two convictions on evidentiary issues, but he was found guilty after a third trial in 2003. Prosecutors said Vest was stabbed more than 24 times before she was strangled.

The Supreme Court upheld that conviction.

Murray's defense lawyer was in court Friday afternoon arguing for another new trial, citing an FBI announcement last year that serious errors were made when it analyzed hair samples in hundreds of cases nationwide.

"In this case, we believe the evidence shows he didn't do it or they can't prove it (beyond) reasonable doubt," defense attorney Rick Sichta said. "A main witnesses is recanting to the state in a letter and we have the FBI saying some of their testimony regarding the hair evidence is invalid."

The prosecutor said the defense is trying to make Murray's previous lawyer, Richard Kurtz, look bad to get a new trial.

"The Florida Supreme Court complimented him (saying) that he did a very good job," Assistant Sate Attorney Bernie de la Rionda said.

Circuit Judge Virginia Norton was not expected to rule Friday night.

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