SUMMARY OF WAYNE TOMPKINS CASE
In March of 1983, Wayne Tompkins was living in Tampa with Barbara DeCarr and her three children, including 15-year-old Lisa. On the morning of March 24, 1983, between 8:30 and 9:00, Barbara went to Wayne’s mother’s house to help her move. When she left home, Lisa was there wearing a pink bathrobe. Meanwhile, Wayne dropped off Barbara’s son at school and arrived at his mother’s to help. At some point, Barbara sent him back to their house to get newspapers. When he returned he reported Lisa was on the couch watching TV. Later at 3:00 pm., Wayne reported that Lisa had run away. Barbara went home, could not find Lisa, and contacted the police. Barbara questioned Wayne about his last sighting of Lisa, and he said the last time he saw her she was going out the back door wearing blue jeans and a maroon-colored blouse. About a month later wiht Lisa still missing, Barbara and her family moved.
In June of 1984, Barbara employed the services of a psychic to help find Lisa who was still missing. The psychic directed a search of the residence occupied in March of 1983 be conducted. Under the house, a shallow grave was found. The body recovered was identified as Lisa’s through dental records.
At trial, the State relied on the testimony of Kathy Stevens. Kathy had been a classmate of Lisa’s at the time she disappeared. According to Kathy’s testimony at trial, she had a arrived at Lisa’s house at around 6:00 am., on March 24, 1983. The two had made plans to run away. At that time, Lisa announced she had changed her mind. Kathy left, but forgot her purse. Around 9:00 am., Kathy returned to get her purse. When she arrived, Kathy heard a loud crash, so she opened the front door. She saw Lisa and Wayne struggling on the couch. Wayne was on top of Lisa trying to get her clothes off. Lisa asked Kathy to call the police, and Wayne told Kathy to get out. Kathy also noticed another man sitting in a chair in the living room watching. She left and did not call the police. She claimed to have told Lisa’s boyfriend who did not seem upset. So she went to school and never told anybody else. A couple weeks later, she had a conversation with Barbara and told her that Lisa had left for New York. She testified that this was a lie but that she believed at the time that Lisa may have run away. Until the body was discovered, Kathy believed that Lisa had run away.
The State also relied upon the testimony of a jailhouse informant, Kenneth Turco. After a previous jailhouse informant committed suicide, Turco came forward and claimed that Wayne had confessed to strangling Lisa and burying her body under the house.
On the basis of this evidence, Mr. Tompkins was convicted of having murdered Lisa DeCarr on March 24, 1983, between the hours of 8:30 am. and 5:00 pm. At the penalty phase, evidence of two prior sexual assaults was introduced in aggravation (although it should be noted that the victim of one of the priors reported in her statement that Mr. Tompkins could not go through with it, dropped her off a block away from where she requested, and gave her change so she could call the police). A death sentence resulted.
However, Mr. Tompkins’ jury did not hear significant exculpatory evidence. First, the day that Lisa was reported missing the police interviewed Wendy Chancey, another schoolmate of Lisa’s. Wendy reported seeing Lisa getting in a car at 3:00 pm on March 24, 1983, at the intersection of 12th St. and Osbourne. She also reported that Lisa was wearing jeans and a maroon blouse.
Second, school records indicated that in April "students said the child called from N.Y. is pregnant."
Third, a police report dated April 26, 1983, indicated Barbara had reported that her son had spoken to Kathy Sample (Kathy Stevens had testified that she was never known as Kathy Sample) who reported that Lisa had called her. Barbara then called Kathy Sample who reported Lisa had called saying she was in New York and pregnant.
Fourth, a police report dated June 22, 1983, noted that Barbara had called indicating a neighbor had allegedly seen Lisa getting into a green car in the area of 15th and Osbourne.
Fifth, a police report dated September 2, 1983, reported that Lisa had been sighted some six months after the day she was first reported missing.
Sixth, at Mr. Tompkins’ trial the prosecutor told the jury that Kathy Stevens had no reason to lie. However, a undisclosed memo to the file prepared by that prosecutor revealed that he had two conversations with her before she told him that she had witnessed a struggle between Mr. Tompkins and Lisa. On March 7, 1985, Kathy indicated that the day before her disappearance Lisa had told Kathy she was going to run away. At that time, Kathy said she had no further contact with Lisa and her subsequent statement to Barbara reporting a phone call from Lisa was false. On March 12, 1985, Kathy changed her story and reported seeing the struggle between Mr. Tompkins and Lisa. After this change in her story, the prosecutor "arranged a visit" between Kathy and her boyfiend who was then in jail and who she had not been able to get in to see.
Seventh, the jury did not know that Kenneth Turco would be allowed to withdraw a guilty plea to an escape charge within two weeks after his testimony. At trial, Turco told the jury that he had pled guilty to an escape and expected to serve a lot of time. Two weeks after Mr. Tompkins received the death penalty, however, the prosecutor in Mr. Tompkins’ case replaced the prosecutor in Turco’s case, and went to court and agreed to allow Turco to withdraw his guilty plea to the escape. The prosecutor then dropped escape charge against Turco completely.