Guest Author - Donna Johnson
During George Trepalís trial for the murder of Peggy Carr, his neighbor in Alturas, Florida, the prosecution presented a case built from many small parts. Trepalís theory about why the Carrs were poisoned matched a threatening note the family received, which had not been made public. Trepal and his wife Diana Carr (not related to the Pye Carr family) had several altercations about the Carrsí loud teenage sons and dogs. During an undercover investigation, Special Officer Susan Goreck, posing as a woman named Sherry Guin, heard Trepal allude to poisoning in various situations and conversations she had with him. Recordings of these conversations were played in court while Goreck testified. And, of course, the bottles found during a search of Trepalís shed, containers that tested positive for thallium nitrate, the same chemical used to poison 16-ounce bottles of Coca-Cola consumed by the Carrs.
While the strategy employed by the State was no surprise, Trepalís defense was somewhat unusual. In a bizarre move, his lawyers pointed the finger away from Trepal and at Diana. She had many of the same problems with the Carr family, explained the defense, and as a doctor, she had knowledge of poisons like Trepal did. She also testified that she enjoyed murder mysteries and wrote the poisoning storyline for the murder mystery weekend attended by Goreck.
Employing a more commonplace tactic, they also implied Pye Carr was to blame for his wifeís death, insinuating that the couple had marital problems just before the poisoning, including adultery on Pyeís part. Prosecution witnesses refuted these claims, stating that although the couple had been through some difficulties in the past, particularly with blending their families, they had resolved their issues and appeared to have a loving relationship when Peggy died.
At 11:10 AM on February 5, 1991, the Trepal case went to the jury. Just over six hours later, deliberations came to an end. The jurors found Trepal guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Peggy Carr, six counts of attempted first-degree murder, one count of tampering with a consumer product and seven counts of poisoning food or water with intent to kill or injure. On March 6, 1991, following the juryís recommendation, Judge Dennis P. Maloney sentenced Trepal to death.
Over the past two decades, Trepal has maintained his innocence, filing numerous appeals without success. As of 2011, his appeal was pending in the Federal 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, located in Atlanta, Georgia. If he is denied again, his last option will rest with the United States Supreme Court. Peggy Carrís survivors, as well as the jurors who convicted Trepal, remain convinced of his guilt, and Pye Carr still wants to witness the execution. Diana Carr divorced Trepal in 1996, leaving him with only two regular visitors and plenty of solitary time, which he fills by reading books in his cell.