Fla. jury suggests death penalty for inmate who killed guard

By Susan Jacobson
Orlando Sentinel

A Volusia County jury has unanimously recommended the death penalty for prisoner Enoch Hall, who was convicted last week of murdering a state corrections officer.

The jury made its recommendation about 7:30 p.m. Thursday after 2 1/2 hours of deliberation, a spokesman for the State Attorney's Office said.

Hall -- who told officers shortly after the murder that he "freaked out" and "killed her" -- was convicted last week of first-degree murder. He stabbed Donna Fitzgerald 22 times on June 25, 2008.

Prosecutors said the death penalty is an appropriate punishment because of the severity of the crime. Hall, 40, was serving two life sentences for the sexual battery and kidnapping of a 66-year-old woman near Pensacola when he attacked Fitzgerald, 50, who was unarmed, with a shank made of sheet metal.

The killing happened at Tomoka Correctional Institution in Daytona Beach.

Fitzgerald was assigned to supervise inmates in the PRIDE program, where Hall renovated vehicles. After the workday ended about 6:20 p.m., Fitzgerald went looking for Hall, investigators wrote in a report.

She had not answered her radio or telephone an hour later, so officers began searching for her and caught Hall running out of the building, the report states. Fitzgerald's body was inside an office where Hall told them she could be found.

Because of the murder, three employees were demoted and a new warden was assigned to the prison. Inmates also no longer have unsupervised access to sheet metal and other potential dangers such as welding tools and chemicals.

Thursday's recommendation was the culmination of the penalty phase of Hall's trial that began Tuesday. A hearing is scheduled for Dec. 7. Sentencing is expected a few weeks later.

Although 7th Circuit Chief Judge J. David Walsh could give Hall life in prison, few Florida judges depart from jury recommendations, and they are required by law to give them "great weight."

Copyright 2009 Sentinel Communications Co.

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