DATE: 2/15/2023
(February 14, 2023)
The Honorable Paul Renner
Speaker, The Florida House of Representatives
Suite 420, The Capitol
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1300
Re: HB 6005 - Representative Duggan
Relief/Robert Earl DuBoise/State of Florida
FINDINGS OF FACT: Crime and Early Investigation
At around 8:00 a.m. on August 19, 1983, Antonio Abay (“Abay”)
discovered the body of 19-year-old B.G. behind his Tampa,
Florida dental office. B.G. was naked other than a tube top
pulled up over her breasts, and she had severe trauma to her
head, face, and neck. Abay then called out for Joseph Tietack
(“Tietack”), who was nearby. Tietack approached and observed
the body of B.G., whose face he described as "obliterated,"
then called 911.
Law enforcement quickly arrived on the scene, including
Tampa Police Department (“TPD”) Detective Phillip Saladino
(“Saladino”), who would become lead detective on the case.
B.G. was covered in blood and had visible bruises on her
knees, ankles, and wrists as though made by fingers and
thumbs grasping her tightly. Torn turf and knee imprints also
surrounded her body, evidencing a violent struggle. This
evidence, combined with the fact that B.G. was nearly naked
and on her back, indicated to the officers that she had been
sexually assaulted before she was killed. Saladino also
observed that B.G. had sustained several blows to the head,
delivered with such force that her head was indented four
inches into the dirt.
Page 2
Law enforcement collected evidence from the scene, including
a woman’s purse, shorts, and underwear; a pack of cigarettes;
three pieces of 2x4 boards on which they found blood and hair;
and latent fingerprints. The officers inferred from the evidence
that at least one of the 2x4 boards was the murder weapon.
Saladino also noted a pale band of skin on one of B.G.’s
fingers, suggesting she frequently wore a ring. A witness would
later confirm that B.G. wore a silver Avon ring set with an opal
flanked by two smaller stones, but no ring was found at the
scene and it is unclear whether B.G. was wearing the ring on
the night of her murder as witnesses gave conflicting testimony.
During the ensuing investigation, Saladino determined that
B.G. left her workplace, a Hot Potato restaurant, at around 9:30
p.m. on August 18, 1983, and began walking home. Two
witnesses reported seeing B.G. walking south in the direction of
her home sometime around 9:30 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. that night
and offering her a ride, but B.G. declined. However, B.G.’s
body was found north of where the witnesses saw her walking,
leading the State to theorize that B.G. turned around at some
point and headed north, perhaps to buy the pack of cigarettes
found at the scene. Another witness believed he saw B.G.
sometime between 9:30 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. at the Eastern
Gas Station, located one block from where her body was found,
but a second witness who was the gas station on the night of
B.G.’s murder did not see her there.
An autopsy performed by Dr. Lee Miller (“Miller”) with the
Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s Office (“MEO”)
determined B.G.’s cause of death to be blunt force trauma to
the head, in the manner of homicide, with her time of death
approximately 11:30 p.m. In preparation for the autopsy, Miller
collected photographs, hair samples, and a rape kit, including
vaginal, rectal, and oral swabs. Miller also discovered what he
believed was a bitemark on B.G.’s left cheek. He then
photographed the mark and, despite having no experience in
bitemark preservation, excised it away from B.G.’s face,
attempting to preserve it in a formaldehyde solution. According
to Dr. Adam Freeman (“Freeman”), a forensic odontology
expert and the former president of the American Board of
Forensic Odontologists (“ABFO”), who later reviewed this case,
the mark likely shrunk by at least ten percent as a result of
Miller’s actions, which did not comply with the scientific
standards for bitemark preservation in place at the time.
To assist with the bitemark investigation, law enforcement
brought in Dr. Richard Powell (“Powell”), a dentist and MEO
consultant, and Dr. Richard Souviron (“Souviron”), a certified
forensic odontologist. While Powell had never testified as an
expert in a criminal trial nor looked at a human bitemark on a
body, Souviron was, at that time, considered a bitemark expert
and had testified in several criminal trials involving bitemark
evidence, including that of Ted Bundy.
Page 3
As part of his analysis, Souviron asked Saladino and the
recently-assigned TPD detective K.E. Burke (“Burke”) to obtain
beeswax dental impressions from persons of interest in B.G.’s
murder. In the course of their investigation, Saladino and Burke
obtained over 100 such impressions, out of which Powell made
stone casts for comparison to the alleged bitemark. However,
according to Freeman, beeswax is so soft and malleable that is
likely that the heat of the poured stone would have softened the
beeswax impression, distorting any stone cast made from it.
Claimant’s Identification and Arrest
According to Saladino’s testimony, the TPD initially identified
two suspects in B.G.’s murder. Both suspects had a known
connection to B.G. and were placed in the area of the crime on
the night of her murder. Further, both suspects gave conflicting
testimony about their whereabouts on that night.
However, the investigation soon shifted to the then-18-year old
Claimant and two other males, the Claimant’s brother Victor
DuBoise (“V.D.”) and their friend Raymond Garcia (“Garcia”),
after an Eastern Gas Station clerk stated that "Robert," "Ray,"
and "Bo" would hang around the store and cause trouble. The
clerk pointed the officers in the direction of where she believed
these individuals lived, and at one of the homes in that area,
Saladino found mail addressed to persons with the surname
“DuBoise” and connected them to the Claimant. At this point,
the Claimant, who had no known connection to B.G., became a
suspect in her murder.
On September 25, 1983, the Claimant volunteered to be
interviewed at Saladino’s request. During this interview, the
Claimant denied any involvement in B.G.’s murder, indicating
that he would prove he "wasn’t the guy that bit that girl" and
that he had "nothing to hide." Saladino and Burke also
interviewed the Claimant’s parents, who stated that the
Claimant had been out on the night of the murder looking for
his missing sister with V.D. and Garcia but had returned home
by about 10:30 p.m. that night. Indeed, a missing persons’
report for the Claimant’s sister was filed on August 16, 1983,
two days before B.G.’s murder.
During this initial investigation, the Claimant voluntarily allowed
Saladino and Burke to make a beeswax dental impression of
his teeth. On October 13, 1983, this dental impression was sent
along with several other impressions to Souviron for
comparison to the alleged bitemark. Souviron ultimately
determined that the Claimant’s dental impression was similar to
the alleged bitemark, and based on this alone, the Claimant
was arrested on October 23, 1983. Saladino later testified that,
at the time of his arrest, the Claimant continued to volunteer his
dental impression for comparison to the bitemark in the hopes
that it would clear him.
Page 4
After the Claimant’s arrest, Saladino obtained a warrant for new
dental impressions of the Claimant’s teeth and Powell made
three such impressions. The Claimant remained cooperative
during the nearly five hours of impression-making, indicating
that they should "go ahead and do it" because he "didn’t have
anything to do with [B.G.’s murder]." These impressions were
then sent to Souviron, who stated that, after comparing the
impressions to the alleged bitemark, he was positive that the
Claimant was its source.
No other physical evidence linked the Claimant to the murder.
In fact, the Claimant was excluded from latent fingerprints and
hairs recovered from the scene and body, and the blood type of
the contributor of the semen found in B.G.’s vaginal sample
was indeterminate. Further, blood samples recovered from the
scene either could not be typed or were Type O, a blood type
shared by the Claimant and the battered B.G., making it
possible that the blood belonged to B.G. herself.
Charges and Conviction
Based on Souviron’s certainty regarding the alleged bitemark’s
source, the claimant was charged with First-Degree Felony
Murder and Attempted Sexual Battery. At trial, the state
presented Souviron’s testimony, in which he concluded that the
mark on B.G.’s left cheek was a human bitemark that could be
linked to the Claimant with a "reasonable degree of dental
certainty." In return, the defense presented the testimony of Dr.
Norman Sperber (“Sperber”), a forensic odontologist and
chairman of the Bitemark Guidance Committee. Sperber
testified that the Claimant’s dental impression did not match the
mark on B.G.’s cheek and that the number of inconsistencies
between the claimant’s dental impression and that mark
actually excluded the Claimant as its source. The defense also
tried to expose Souviron’s potential prosecution bias by
successfully getting Souviron to admit that, when speaking at a
November 1984 conference of the International Association of
the Chiefs of Police, he said, "If you tell me that is the guy that
did it, I will go into court and say that is the guy that did it."
To bolster its case, which would otherwise rest solely on the
bitemark evidence, the state presented the testimony of Claude
Butler (“Butler”), a jailhouse informant facing multiple life
sentences for crimes including Kidnapping, Robbery with a
Firearm, Grand Theft, Grand Theft Auto, Dealing in Stolen
Property, and Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer. Butler had
a working relationship with TPD detective John Counsman
(“Counsman”), for whom he had served as a confidential
informant in the past; it was Counsman who allegedly put Butler
in touch with Saladino. Curiously, Saladino testified that he did
not know of Butler before Butler’s involvement in the Claimant’s
case, but the record shows that Saladino was part of a sting
operation that led to Butler’s arrest for Grand Theft in 1982.
Page 5
Before testifying, Butler was allegedly given a polygraph
examination, the results of which were never disclosed to the
defense or included in the State’s files. Butler also met with
Saladino and Counsman several times to discuss his
testimony. However, Saladino only memorialized one such
meeting, during which Butler said that the Claimant, with whom
he was confined in the Hillsborough County Jail, confessed to
him that he, Garcia, and V.D. attempted to steal B.G.’s purse,
beating her up after she tried to escape.
However, by the time Butler gave a statement to Manuel Lopez
(“Lopez”), the prosecutor initially assigned to try the Claimant’s
case, his story had evolved. This time, Butler alleged that the
Claimant confessed to him that he had been getting high with
V.D. and Garcia when they ran out of money and decided to
steal B.G.’s purse. According to Butler, the Claimant said B.G.
struggled over the purse and Garcia came to help, pulling her
into the car after she recognized him, after which the men
drove B.G. to the "business district" and raped her before
hitting her with a "stick."1
Relying heavily on Butler’s testimony, the State argued that the
claimant murdered B.G. with the help of V.D. and Garcia.
However, no other evidence tied V.D. and Garcia to B.G.’s
murder, and neither were arrested in connection with the crime.
At trial, the defense focused on Butler’s credibility by presenting
the testimony of John Parkhill (“Parkhill”), the Claimant’s first
defense counsel. Parkhill testified that he interviewed Butler
about his statement and that Butler told him the statement was
untrue and given only because he was afraid of Saladino due
to tactics the detective used in the Claimant’s case. Parkhill