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The Reliability Of The Identification Evidence
The Out-Of Court Identification Procedures
On 3 February 1974, the night of the attack, Cynthia Nadeau provided police in Fort Myers, Lee County, Florida, with a description of her attacker. She described him as being ‘a black man with a dark complexion and pock marked skin’. Tibbs, on other hand, was a light skinned man and with a clear complexion.1 Nevertheless, Delbert Tibbs was stopped by police whilst hitchhiking near Leesburg, Florida, on the basis that he matched the description given by Nadeau. He was released after questioning before being stopped again the following day, this time in Ocala, Florida. On each occasion he co-operated with the police, providing all information and identification that they had asked for and allowed himself to be photographed by the Ocala Police Department.2 The Ocala Police Department sent the pictures to Fort Myers Police, who in turn showed them to Nadeau. She was provided with only pictures of Tibbs and no comparative alternatives. On 12 February, having looked at his images alone, she identified him as the perpetrator. This was nine days after the incident. A warrant was issued for Tibbs’ arrest and on 13 February 1974 he was picked up by police in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Again, he co-operated fully with the police and chose to waive extradition in Mississippi to voluntarily return to Florida to face the charges against him.3 Tibbs was transported to Fort Myers and on 16 February 1974 he took part in a line-up identification procedure. The line-up contained three other African-American men. Following the line-up, Nadeau positively identified Tibbs as being her attacker. This was four days after having been shown his pictures by Fort Myers Police.4
Identification Evidence At The Original Trial
Tibbs’ trial commenced on 11 December 1974. He was represented by Chicago lawyer George Howard.5 During the trial state witnesses conceded that, at the time of the identification on 12 February 1974, Cynthia Nadeau did not have the opportunity to pick his pictures out of a photographic array. A police witness at trial did claim, however, that on three or four previous occasions she had been shown photographs of single suspects, and had also seen several books of photographs, without making a positive identification.6
Center on Wrongful Convictions – Delbert Tibbs Chronology http://www.law.northwestern.edu/wrongfulconvictions/exonerations/flTibbsChronology.html 2 Tibbs v. State, 337 So.2d 791 (1976)
Tibbs v. State, 337 So.2d 791 (1976)
Centre on Wrongful Convictions – Delbert Tibbs Chronology http://www.law.northwestern.edu/wrongfulconvictions/exonerations/flTibbsChronology.html 5 Center on Wrongful Convictions – Delbert Tibbs Chronology http://www.law.northwestern.edu/wrongfulconvictions/exonerations/flTibbsChronology.html 6 Delbert Lee Tibbs, Petitioner v. Florida 457 U.S. 31 (102 S Ct. 2211, 72 L.Ed.2d 652) footnote 2
suggesting that the facts indicated that the attack had happened at night. Howard. the jury could safely convict based solely on the testimony of the victim alone and without any other supporting evidence. unreliable. 167 So 2d 309 Fla. Tibbs’ defence team argued that the photographic ID procedures used in his case so tainted the subsequent line-up identification and trial identifications as to deprive him of due process of law. no corroborative evidence was required if the victim could testify directly to the crime and identify the assailant8. State.2d 401 1972 10 -2- . 7 8 9 Delbert Lee Tibbs.Ed. pointing to the fact that she was a regular drug user and had been smoking cannabis shortly before the attack. as the procedure was so suggestive as to give rise to a real likelihood of irreparable misidentification. 2211. by itself. A likelihood of misidentification offends the right to due process and can form the basis for the exclusion of evidence. Howard suggested that Nadeau’s former boyfriend had in fact killed Milroy and that Nadeau was lying to protect him. The photographic procedure was argued to be suggestive because Nadeau was taken back to the location of the crime. undermine the conviction.2d 652) – Justice O’Connor Thomas v. In his closing argument. On appeal to the Florida Supreme Court. Biggers. not during daylight hours as was suggested by Nadeau. The court should consider the circumstances surrounding the identification and apply US Supreme Court guidelines to that identification evidence to assess whether the procedures so fatally tainted that evidence as to deprive the accused of due process of law. Therefore. 267 So. Petitioner v. the fact that no other evidence placed him at the scene of the crime other than Cynthia Nadeau’s testimony did not. Florida state law provided that in cases of rape. State.2d 65 Fla 1972 Neil v. 34 L.Ed.During the trial it was established and argued by the defence attorney. the testimony must be subjected to careful scrutiny. This meant that in Tibbs’ case. These arguments were unsuccessful and on 14 December 1974 the jury convicted Tibbs of first-degree murder and rape and on recommendation of the jury the judge sentenced him to death. Nadeau subsequently identified Tibbs in a line-up and at court during the original trial.7 The Applicable Law On Identification Evidence At the time of Tibbs’ trial and appeal. State9 found that identification based on photographs of a single suspect alone does not in itself violate due process. The Supreme Court guidelines are set out in Neil v. Thomas v.S. Biggers10. 72 L. Florida 457 U. Howard argued that Nadeau was an unreliable witness. Fort Myers. drawing attention to discrepancies in her account of the time of day that the attack had occurred. therefore. Ct 375. a case concerning a stationhouse ‘showup’ or encounter which took place seven months after the crime occurred. However. and shown several photographs of Delbert Tibbs alone. that not only did Tibbs have an alibi.1964 Chaney v. 31 (102 S Ct. The right to due process is a US Constitutional Right under the 4th and 14th amendments. The case of Chaney v. but Nadeau’s evidence was flawed and. 409 US 188 93 S. State also established that where the sole witness is the victim. The guidelines set out the following principles: The court must be concerned to avoid the likelihood of irreparable misidentification in out of court identity procedures.
State. in the majority view of the appeal court. 70 So. 565 -3- . State. where the crime occurred. Where the evidence of the identity of the accused is not satisfactory. including evidence as to the identity of the accused. the appeal court was required to make an assessment of all the circumstances of Nadeau’s identification of Tibbs in order to assess whether there was a likelihood of irreparable misidentification. the above issues cast significant doubt on the credibility of Nadeau’s testimony. which would aid identification. Florida law provides that the appellate court can overturn the conviction and order a new trial12. 846 Nims v. the State Supreme Court’s role is to assess whether there is a ‘sufficiency of evidence to convince a fair and impartial mind of the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt’11. The conduct of the photo identification procedure: by returning Nadeau to Fort Myers. evidence obtained from a suggestive confrontation does not necessarily have to be excluded due to the suggestiveness alone. the identification evidence 11 12 Heath v. can interfere with the jury’s findings where the evidence is not ‘substantial ’. the identification procedure was less reliable than possible with multiple photos of more than one person. b) The degree of attention the witness paid. The court must consider whether in all the circumstances the identification was reliable even if the procedures used were suggestive. d) The level of certainty demonstrated at the confrontation. as the appellate court. 70 Fla 530. The circumstances to be considered include: a) The opportunity the witness had to view the criminal at the time of the crime. The court disapproves of suggestive confrontations because they increase the likelihood of misidentification. By majority verdict (four judges to three). and e) The length of time between the crime and the confrontation. Taken together. How The Identification Evidence Was Dealt With On Appeal When a life sentence or death sentence is imposed. Justice England and Justice Boyd. is ordinarily a matter for a jury. However. Therefore. when all independently available evidence suggested it took place after nightfall. The two opinions of the judges agreeing the majority verdict. 120 So. the fact that Nadeau was shown photographs only of Tibbs would not automatically fatally taint the identification evidence. the Supreme Court of Florida overturned Delbert Tibbs’ conviction and ordered a new trial. and showing her photos of Tibbs only. the State Supreme Court. highlighted the following issues with the identification evidence: The fact that Nadeau testified the crime took place in daylight. c) The accuracy of the witness’ prior description of the criminal. which included several stark differences to Tibbs’ appearance. However. The credibility of witness testimony. and The first description given by Nadeau. Therefore. Nadeau’s use of marijuana throughout the day and immediately before the crime. However. 97 Fla 330.
In his analysis.was not satisfactory and. the accuracy of the prior description.13 At the time of Tibbs’ trial. who claimed that Tibbs had confessed to the murder while they were sharing a cell in the Lee County Jail. State. the accuracy of prior description and opportunity to view the criminal at the time of the crime are both issues specifically identified by the US Supreme Court in Neil v. Tibbs’ attorney submitted that the credibility of the only two witnesses against the accused was so low that they should have been completely disregarded by the Circuit Court jury hearing the case. 337 So. State. nor her account of the crimes taking place in daylight. Tibbs v. once properly scrutinised. both issues which the majority opinions found to significantly undermine the credibility of her testimony. 167 So 2d 309 Fla 1964.14 The key issue raised in appeal by the defence team was that the key evidence given by Nadeau in her testimony was not tested with the proper scrutiny that should have been applied by the jury. the level of certainty and the time between the crime and confrontation. the law allowed a safe conviction based on the sole evidence of a victim in a case of rape. he found no basis for concluding there was a likelihood of irreparable misidentification and the conviction could properly be based on Nadeau’s identification evidence. Commentary The convictions were based primarily on the uncorroborated evidence of Nadeau.16 13 14 15 16 Delbert Lee TIBBS. One key part of her evidence was the identification of Tibbs. Judge Roberts concluded that there was no rule providing for a strict barring of identification evidence obtained through suggestive procedures. The dissenting judgment of Judge Roberts15 specifically considered whether the identification procedures used in Tibbs’ case were so suggestive as to fatally taint the identification evidence and violate his right to due process.S. 31 Thomas v. The Cellmate Confession Besides the testimony of Nadeau. the evidence against Tibbs was not substantial enough to support the conviction. it must be assumed to have played a fairly substantial role in Gibbs’ conviction.2d 788 (1976) St Petersburg Times – Miami Herald. These factors should be weighted against the effect of the suggestive identification itself. Biggers as circumstances to consider when assessing the reliability of the identification evidence. Bearing in mind that this was the only corroborating evidence to an eyewitness account for which identification issues were far from clear cut. the only other witness to give evidence at the trial was Sylvester Gibbs. who on her own account admitted to having been under the influence of marijuana at the time of the incident. In addition. such as the opportunity of the witness to view the criminal at the time of the crime. FLORIDA 457 U. in the absence of any evidence corroborating Nadeau’s testimony. Petitioner v. Addressing the cellmate conviction at the first appeal hearing in 1976. A number of factors ought to be considered. 7 Jan 1976 -4- . Judge Roberts does not specifically comment on or attempt to reconcile the discrepancies between Nadeau’s first description and Tibbs’ actual appearance. the degree of attention paid by the witness. Reliability is the linchpin in determining the admissibility of identification testimony.
appropriate consideration should have been given to whether the court should appoint an expert who could testify to the authenticity of the card. where the crimes were committed. based on supposed confessions to a number of parties including his cellmate who (like Gibbs) was a convicted criminal who stood to gain by testifying against him. recognising the fact that confessions of this nature will often be self-serving and ensuring that the jury is fully warned of their potential lack of reliability. 29 July 1976 -5- . Florida law says that if scientific. sought to discredit Tibbs’ testimony by showing another card. It. The card represented the sole physical evidence against Tibbs and he denied the signature on it was his. who was by then serving a life term – was attempting to benefit himself by testifying against Tibbs. often leading to convictions which are subsequently reversed on appeal.The majority of judges agreed. Two Salvation Army Officers partially corroborated Tibbs’ testimony by producing a Daytona Beach Salvation Army Transit Lodge card signed by Tibbs on the evening of 1 February and confirming that he had stayed overnight. therefore. Ian Lawless was jailed for life in 2002. Tibbs had also claimed that he had only ever been in Orlando in January 1974. If such expert testimony raised doubts about the only physical evidence directly contradicting Tibbs’ testimony it may have affected the jury’s verdict. He testified that he was some 250 miles away in Daytona Beach from 1 February through to 6 February. The crimes were committed on 3 February. appears that there is scope for building further safeguards into the trial process. This second card put Tibbs 50 miles closer to Fort Myers. For example. an expert may testify about it in the form of an opinion (Florida Statute 90.231). 17 Palm Beach Post. however. In view of the Orlando Salvation Army Transit Lodge card potentially serving to bring into question Tibbs’ honesty in front of the jury. The prosecution. The card from Orlando Salvation Army Transit Lodge may have been a significant issue for the jury in deciding that they did not believe Tibbs’ testimony. Some seven years later his conviction was quashed as the reliability of the confessions was questioned. No expert evidence was given at trial to assist the jury in deciding whether or not this card was signed by Tibbs. implying that it may have been accepted early in the appeals process that Gibbs’ testimony added little to the case against Tibbs. There is also provision for experts’ fees to be paid from court funds or at public expense (Florida Statute 92. having been convicted of murdering retired sea captain Alf Wilkins. allegedly signed by Tibbs. technical. Tibbs maintained that he had not been in Orlando other than in January 1974 and denied that the signature on the second card was his. relatively little mention of the cellmate confession is made within the various appeal court judgments. Subsequent discussions of the higher courts were focussed on the reliability or otherwise of the identification evidence.702). or other specialised knowledge will assist a jury in determining a fact in issue. which suggested that he had in fact spent the night at the Orlando Salvation Army Transit Lodge on 4 February. Rebuttal Evidence – Whose Signature Was On The Card? At the trial Tibbs denied that he was in Fort Myers at the time the crimes were committed. Cellmate confessions have similarly been adduced in criminal trials in England.17 In fact. with Justice Joe Boyd pointing out that Gibbs – himself a convicted rapist.
The victim of the shooting – Terry Robert Milroy – was also white. They were the same 12 faces that had returned verdicts of guilty for the offence of murder and rape. The 12 white faces on the jury were not the only white faces that would be determining the sentence imposed on Tibbs. The jury is not only responsible for deciding guilt and innocence. In Tibbs’ case. Despite there being a moratorium on the imposition of the death penalty the judge passed a sentence of death should the penalty be reinstated. this decision failed to assist Tibbs as it was decided 12 years after he had been found guilty and sentenced to death on the recommendation of an all-white jury. This is known as the penalty phase. one African American made it through the peremptory challenges for selection on the jury but was disqualified at the last moment. Both prosecution and defence lawyers have the right to question the jury pool and take turns dismissing jurors using peremptory strikes. the jury returned a recommendation of passing a death sentence. the Supreme Court’s decision led to a de facto national moratorium on the death penalty. Georgia. the question may arise – how did Delbert Tibbs come to be convicted at all? Issues of guilt or innocence are for a jury and Tibbs looked to the 12 faces that would be deciding his fate. In the case of Tibbs. Statistics show that defendants whose victims are white are four times more likely to receive a death sentence than cases where the victim was from a minority race.who concurred with the lead opinion . However. The number of strikes the prosecution had was sufficient to exclude minorities from sitting on a jury. The US Supreme Court in Batson v.Jury Selection Bearing in mind the limited evidence.stated: “The system is pregnant with discrimination and discrimination is an ingredient not compatible with the idea of equal protection of the laws that is implicit in the ban on cruel and unusual punishments”. In the state of Florida they also retire after they have returned a guilty verdict in order to deliberate whether a sentence of death should be passed. Florida. Following the 1972 case of Furman v. The faces on the jury were all white and hailed from Lee County. The jury’s recommendation is ‘advisory only’ and can be overridden by the judge presiding over the penalty phase. During jury selection. Kentucky held that the removal of potential jurors on the grounds of race was unconstitutional. potential jurors can be dismissed for ‘cause’. The odds were stacked against Tibbs before the trial had even started . The jury considers the 17 statutory aggravating factors and seven mitigating factors.he faced an all-white jury and the victim of the shooting was white. Justice Douglas . such as being unavailable for the duration of the scheduled trial or indicating an opposition to the death penalty. -6- . Mr. Tibbs was an African American hailing from Chicago. How did it come to be that Tibbs was tried by an all-white jury? Juror strikes were used routinely by state prosecutors to obtain all-white juries in cases where the defendant was African American.
On 28 March 1979 the District Court of Appeal of Florida. Tibbs then argued that because his conviction had been reversed on appeal he now had the protection of the double jeopardy clause of the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution and. After convicting Tibbs. The Florida Supreme Court reviewed the entire transcript of Tibbs’ trial and was left with “considerable doubt that Delbert Tibbs [was] the man who committed the crimes for which he [had] been convicted”. Judge Boardman gave the leading opinion of the court.000 bond. the retrial was barred.Appeal To The Florida Supreme Court – Enough Evidence To Convict? On 14 December 1974 Tibbs was convicted in the Lee County Court in Florida on a threecount indictment of rape. Massey which were cited as authority for the proposition that where an appellate court reverses a conviction solely on the ground of insufficiency of the evidence. Tibbs was released from custody on 8 January 1977 on a $ 90. the jury recommended that he be sentenced to death and the trial judge duly imposed the death sentence. As a defendant upon whom the death sentence had been imposed Tibbs had the right under §921.16 (b) to request that the Florida Supreme Court review the conviction to determine if the interests of justice required a new trial. first-degree murder and felony murder. The court gave its decision on 28 July 1976 and the decision for Tibbs was by a narrow 4-3 majority. the double jeopardy clause prohibits retrial. Justice Boyd stated that his decision to reverse the conviction was based upon the “weakness and inadequacy of the testimony against [Mr Tibbs] given in the trial court”.Double Jeopardy And Re-Trials The case was. Justice England identified six “infirmities” in the evidence that convicted Tibbs and concluded his opinion by stating that “rather than risk the very real possibility that Tibbs had nothing to do with these crimes.United States and Greene v. Second District. This argument was successful and in late 1976 Judge Jack Shoononver dismissed the indictment against Tibbs. therefore.141(4) Florida Statutes (1975) and Fla. rather than its “technical sufficiency”. Giving the lead opinion of the court. as such. In a concurring opinion. Appeal To US Supreme Court . Because the conviction had been reversed on the basis that the evidence was “weak” rather than “insufficient” the court held that the principle of double jeopardy did not apply. we reverse his conviction and remand for a new trial ”. Rule 6. The state of Florida then appealed the decision of the trial judge to dismiss the indictment on the basis that the principle of double jeopardy was not applicable in Tibbs’ case. He was also of the opinion that Tibbs should be “released from incarceration without further litigation” and only reluctantly ordered that a new trial should take place because he felt bound by Florida state law to do so. He took this to mean that the Florida Supreme Court had taken a view on the “weight” of the evidence. remitted back to the Lee County Court for a new trial. The court based this finding on the United States Supreme Court decisions in the cases of Burks v. follows that where an appellate court reverses a conviction on the basis of a view -7- . It. App. His analysis was that the Florida Supreme Court had reversed Tibbs’ conviction because the majority concluded that the testimony of the victim and Tibbs’ cellmate was not “believable and not substantial ” in character. reversed the decision of the trial judge to dismiss the indictment and ordered a new trial. Judge Boardman’s reasoning in Tibbs’ case was that the double jeopardy clause prohibits retrial where an appellate court reverses a conviction on the ground of insufficiency of the evidence. thereafter. He went on to say that “the reversal of [Mr Tibbs’] conviction was not on the basis of pure insufficiency of the evidence but rather was bottomed upon the majority’s view that the evidence was weak and seriously contradicted”.
a retrial was barred under the double jeopardy clause. Justice O’Connor gave the majority opinion. is the appropriate concern of an appellate tribunal”. The Supreme Court disagreed with Tibbs and affirmed the decision of the Florida Supreme Court by a 5-4 majority. of the evidence. In those cases it was -8- . this action was clearly improper”. The court then had to apply these statements of principle to Tibbs’ case. the decision to dismiss the indictment against Tibbs was reversed and a new trial was ordered. and. therefore. Consequently. weight. Tibbs appealed this decision to the Florida Supreme Court and that court gave its decision on 9 April 1981. The leading opinion was given per curiam and began by explaining the distinction between an appellate reversal based upon evidentiary weight and one based upon evidentiary insufficiency and then went on to determine whether the distinction should remain viable under Florida state law. we reweighed the evidence supporting Tibbs’ conviction” and were.taken of the weight of the evidence then a retrial is permissible. therefore. The first option was rejected and rightly described as “unattractive” due to the prejudice that Tibbs would suffer. chose the third option as the only remaining option. The evidentiary weight/sufficiency distinction was held to have been clearly enunciated in Burks v. It analysed its previous decision to reverse Tibbs’ convictions and characterised the reversal as one based on evidentiary weight rather than sufficiency. The court described “sufficiency” of the evidence as a “test of adequacy” and stated that “sufficient evidence” is “such evidence. (2) Discharge Tibbs from the indictment on the basis that in the previous decision it had indicated “serious concern that Tibbs had nothing to do with these crimes”. Massey. in character. United States and Greene v. as such. In effect. The court then stated the general proposition that an appellate court should not “reweigh” evidence submitted to a jury and held that “legal sufficiency alone. it ruled that the “evidentiary weight” category of appellate reversal should be eliminated from Florida state law. as opposed to evidentiary weight. The court was then faced with three options as to how to proceed: (1) Vacate the previous reversal of the conviction as wrongly decided and affirm the conviction of the trial court. as such. bound to hold that “judged in light of today’s decision. a retrial was barred by the principle of double jeopardy. or (3) Affirm the previous decision and order a retrial. Tibbs then appealed this decision to the United States Supreme Court and argued that double jeopardy applied to cases where appellate courts reversed convictions based upon the weight. as well as the sufficiency. It commented that “in effect. or amount as will legally justify the judicial or official action demanded”. The court held by a narrow 4-3 majority that the original decision to reverse was based upon evidentiary weight and the decision to order a retrial was affirmed. The court. Tibbs argued that the original decision to reverse his conviction was based upon evidentiary insufficiency rather than evidentiary weight and. giving its opinion on 7 June 1982. It went on to describe “weight” as “a somewhat more subjective concept” and stated that the “weight of the evidence is the balance or preponderance of evidence” and “it is a determination of the trier of fact that a greater amount of credible evidence supports one side of an issue or cause than the other”. The court felt unable to pursue the second option because it had already held that Tibbs’ conviction had been reversed on the basis of evidentiary weight – discharging Tibbs in these circumstances would have been contradictory because the court had stated that double jeopardy did not apply to appellate reversals based upon evidentiary weight.
Sources Center on Wrongful Convictions – Delbert Tibbs Chronology http://www. 337 So. 267 So.2d 652) Heath v.e.law. 31 (102 S Ct. 29 July 1976 St Petersburg Times – Miami Herald.html Chaney v. Petitioner v. State.held that the double jeopardy clause operated in cases where reversals were based on evidentiary insufficiency and this standard was explained as meaning “that the government’s case was so lacking that that it should not even have been submitted to the jury”. 7 Jan 1976 Thomas v.2d 401 1972 Nims v. She explained that reversals based upon evidentiary weight were those where a judge had disagreed with a jury’s resolution of conflicting evidence. withdrew the charges against Tibbs. the defendant is simply given another chance at an acquittal. -9- . 97 Fla 330. 31 Delbert Lee Tibbs. opining that in these cases “the appellate court sits as a “thirteenth juror” and disagrees with the jury’s resolution of conflicting testimony”. 457 U. after exhausting all avenues of appeal. the court had simply determined that Tibbs’ testimony was more reliable than that of the victim: “This resolution of conflicting testimony in a manner contrary to the jury’s verdict is a hallmark of review based upon evidentiary weight. 457 U. thereby ending his ordeal once and for all. 409 US 188.2d 65 Fla 1972 Delbert Lee TIBBS. FLORIDA.edu/wrongfulconvictions/exonerations/flTibbsChronology. Having already held that double jeopardy only applied to cases where the reversal was based on evidentiary insufficiency. 397 So. However. 120 So 846 Neil v. Joseph D’Allesandro. State. Petitioner v. Therefore. She went on to say that those cases were also authority for the proposition that a conviction would survive review whenever “the evidence and the inferences therefrom most favourable to the prosecution would warrant the jury’s finding the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt”. 167 So 2d 309 Fla.Ed.Ed. on 7 July 1982 the State Attorney. State. Justice O’Connor then analysed the reasoning in Tibbs’ case and found that. 72 L. Biggers.northwestern. 70 Fla 530. State. Florida. 34 L. ultimately. Ct 375. the court held that a retrial was not barred and the decision of the Florida Supreme Court was affirmed. not evidentiary sufficiency”.2d (1981) Case Review produced by Hodge Jones & Allen.1964 Tibbs v. State. 2211.S. 70 So 565 Palm Beach Post. 93 S.2d 791 (1976) Tibbs v. An appellate reversal and subsequent retrial in these circumstances was not oppressive because “the reversal simply affords the defendant a second opportunity to seek a favourable judgment” i. State.S. in June 1981 Tibbs still faced the prospect of a retrial over eight years after the event.
Judge Jack Shoonover holds that a retrial is barred by the double jeopardy clause of the Fifth Amendment. The jury returns guilty verdicts. 2d 788 (1976). Judge Sands sentences Tibbs to death in the Florida electric chair for the murder and life in prison for the rape. 337 So. A Lee County grand jury indicts Tibbs for the murder of Milroy and the rape of Nadeau. 6 February 1974 12 February 1974 15 March 1974 16 March 1974 27 March 1974 11 December 1974 14 December 1974 24 March 1975 28 July 1976 Late 1976 8 January 1977 9 April 1981 . Florida. 2d 1120 (1981).Chronology DELBERT TIBBS 3 February 1974 Terry Robert Milroy. is murdered and Cynthia Nadeau. Nadeau identifies Tibbs from the photographs taken six days earlier. Tibbs. in Lee County. State. some 220 miles north of Fort Myers. his seventeen-year-old white girlfriend. Tibbs’s trial opens before Judge Thomas Sands and an all-white jury. and waives extradition to Florida. The Florida Supreme Court reverses the conviction and remands the case for a new trial based on the weight of the evidence . Tibbs is released on a $90. A warrant is issued for his arrest. The Florida Supreme Court holds that because the verdict was overturned on the weight of the evidence — as opposed to the sufficiency of the evidence —Tibbs may be retried . photographed and released. recommending a death sentence for the murder. Tibbs is arrested near Clarksdale.Tibbs v. is raped near Fort Myers. 397 So. Tibbs is defended by Chicago lawyer George Howard. Tibbs arrives in Fort Myers and is identified by Nadeau from a live line-up that includes three other African American men. a twenty-seven-year-old white man. Long is the prosecutor. a thirty-four-year-old African American hitchhiker from Chicago with light skin and a clear complexion. Mississippi. is stopped near Ocala. questioned about the crime. Despite the discrepancy between Tibbs’ appearance and her initial description of the killer-rapist. Florida.Tibbs v. Nadeau describes the killer-rapist as a black man with a dark complexion and pock-marked skin.000 bond. State Attorney James R. Florida.
Joseph D’Allesandro. 31 (1982).S. Florida. . Chronology produced by Hodge Jones & Allen. State Attorney Long’s successor.Tibbs v. 457 U.7 June 1982 7 July 1982 The US Supreme Court affirms Florida Supreme Court’s d oublejeopardy holding . drops all charges against Tibbs.
holding that the evidence did not support the verdict. In 1976. where he was indicted even though he did not match the original description the female victim had provided and he had a solid alibi. Florida. A few days later. Tibbs was hitchhiking 220 miles north of Fort Myers when he was stopped by police. questioned about the crime. Long. raped her. the prosecution sponsored the testimony of a jailhouse informant who claimed Tibbs had admitted the crime. After the trial. who had handled the original prosecution. according to the young woman. declared that the case had been "tainted from the beginning and the investigators knew it. Lee County State Attorney Joseph D'Allesandro dismissed all charges against Tibbs and D'Allesandro's predecessor. and left her bleeding and unconscious beside a secluded road. the jailhouse informant acknowledged that he had fabricated his testimony against Tibbs in the hope of receiving leniency in his own case. and photographed. in addition to the young woman's dubious testimony. they were picked up by an African American man who shot her boyfriend to death. he was released. Tibbs was released in January 1977. The victims were hitchhiking when. . James S. and the rape of the man's 17-year-old female companion. A warrant was issued and Tibbs was arrested two weeks later in Mississippi. a rape for which he was facing a life sentence. Tibbs waived extradition to Florida. Because he did not fit the eyewitness's description. At trial. Long said he gladly would have testified as a defence witness for Tibbs Case Summary produced by Hodge Jones & Allen. the photo was sent to Fort Myers. Finally. the Florida Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case. although he faced a possible retrial. in 1982.Case Summary DELBERT TIBBS Summary Delbert Lee Tibbs was convicted in 1974 of the first-degree murder of a 27-year-old man near Fort Myers. the victims of which were white. An all-white jury convicted Tibbs of both the murder and rape." If Tibbs had been retried. Nonetheless. by a four-three vote. Tibbs was sentence to death for the murder and received a life sentence for the rape. where the female victim identified him.