The Commission on Capital Cases updates this information regularly. This information, however, is subject to change and may not reflect the latest status of an inmate’s case and should not be relied on for statistical or legal purposes.
THOMAS, William Gregory (W/M)
DC # 311509
Fourth Judicial Circuit, Duval County, Case #93-5394
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable David Wiggins
Attorney, Criminal Trial: Richard Nichols, Esq.
Attorneys, Direct Appeal: Nancy Daniels – Public Defender & Steven Seliger, Esq.
Attorney, Collateral Appeals: Mary Catherine Bonner – Federal; Vacant – State
Date of Offense: 09/12/91
Date of Sentence: 07/22/94
Circumstances of Offense:
William Thomas was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of his wife, Rachel Thomas.
To avoid paying his portion of their impending divorce settlement, William Thomas planned to kidnap and kill his wife. On 09/12/91, Thomas and his friend, Douglas Schraud, went to Rachel’s house in order to kidnap her. Thomas beat Rachel and then tied her up. Rachel attempted to flee by hopping outside, but Thomas dragged her back into the house by her hair. Thomas then put Rachel into the truck of her car and left the scene. Rachel Thomas was never seen again.
Thomas was eventually indicted for the murder of his wife in May, 1993. Thomas had made numerous inculpatory statements about Rachel Thomas’ disappearance; however, suspicion fell heavily upon Thomas after his mother was murdered. Authorities believed that Thomas killed his mother in order to prevent her from implicating him in the murder of Rachel Thomas.
William Thomas was also convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment (CC #93-5393) for the 05/04/93 murder of his mother, Elsie Thomas, who he killed in order to keep her from talking to the police about the death of Rachel Thomas. On 07/14/94, Thomas pled guilty to the murder of Elsie Thomas. In exchange for a recommendation of life in this case (CC #93-5393), Thomas waived his right to appeal any guilt phase issue arising out of the trial for the murder of his wife, Rachel Thomas (CC #93-5394).
Douglas Schraud was convicted of Kidnapping and, on 10/07/94, was sentenced to
12 years in prison. He was released 11/08/98 after serving only four years.
05/20/93 Thomas was indicted on the following:
Count I: First-Degree Murder
Count II: Burglary
Count III: Kidnapping
03/24/94 Thomas was found guilty on all counts charged in the indictment.
03/30/94 Upon advisory sentencing, the jury, by an 11 to 1 majority, voted for the death penalty.
07/22/94 The defendant was sentenced as followed:
Count I: First-Degree Murder – Death
Count II: Burglary – Life
Count III: Kidnapping – Life
Florida Supreme Court - Direct Appeal
693 So. 2d 951 (Fla. 1997)
08/25/94 Appeal filed.
03/20/97 FSC affirmed the convictions and sentence of death.
05/15/97 Rehearing denied.
06/18/97 Mandate issued.
United States Supreme Court - Petition for Writ of Certiorari
522 U.S. 985 (U.S. 1997)
09/18/97 Petition filed.
11/17/97 Petition denied.
State Circuit Court - 3.850 Motion
10/05/98 Motion filed.
04/26/01 Motion denied.
Florida Supreme Court - 3.850 Appeal
838 So.2d 535 (2003)
06/29/01 Appeal filed.
01/30/03 3.850 Denial Affirmed.
03/03/03 Mandate issued.
United States District Court, Middle District – Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus
03/22/04 Petition filed.
02/21/08 Evidentiary Hearing held.
07/02/09 Petition stayed; Case administratively closed due to pending Petition for Writ of Certiorari in United States Supreme Court
United States Supreme Court - Petition for Writ of Certiorari
130 S.Ct. 498
08/21/09 Petition filed.
11/02/09 Petition denied
On 08/25/94, Thomas filed a Direct Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court. In that appeal, he argued that the State failed to prove corpus delecti. The Florida Supreme Court noted:
In the present case, the State's evidence showed the following: Douglas Schraud was present when Thomas beat, bound and abducted Rachel in the trunk of her car. Later that day, Thomas met a friend at the Roosevelt Mall and the friend saw him park and abandon Rachel's car after wiping it down with a towel. Thomas's palm print was found on the hood of the car. Rachel has not been seen or heard from since. It was uncharacteristic of Rachel to miss appointments or to leave behind her family and son--she had never even stayed out all night before. She not only missed a planned evening with a friend, she left behind her gym bag, purse, driver's license, a photograph of her son, twenty dollars in cash she had obtained only an hour before she disappeared, all her clothes, and the $ 750 she had in her bank account. Moreover, she disappeared the day before payday. She had given coworkers no indication she was unhappy in her job, and had never expressed to her family any desire to leave or get away from it all. Although Rachel was a neat person and kept her home immaculate, after her disappearance her garage door was left standing wide open and the door into the house from the garage was left unlocked. There were signs of a struggle in the foyer, as well as blood on the baseboard and on the vent. Blankets were missing from the garage. Witnesses testified that Thomas wore tennis shoes the evening of the murder and there was a tennis shoe print on the floor of the garage. When asked by police, however, Thomas denied owning any tennis shoes, and the next day he collected all his tennis shoes and threw them away.
Based on the foregoing, we conclude that the State introduced sufficient evidence to prove the corpus delicti of the murder and to lay the predicate for admission of Thomas's inculpatory statements. We note that Thomas made many inculpatory statements and admissions. The State introduced sufficient evidence to show that Rachel is dead and Thomas killed her.
Thomas also argued that the court erred in failing to consider mitigating evidence in the sentencing order. The Florida Supreme Court affirmed the convictions and sentence of death on 03/20/97.
Thomas next filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court, which was denied on 11/17/97.
Next, Thomas filed a 3.850 Motion in the State Circuit Court, which was denied on 04/26/01. He then filed an appeal of that decision in the Florida Supreme Court on 06/29/01, in which the denial of Thomas’ 3.850 was affirmed. A mandate was issued 03/03/03.
Thomas filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in the United States District Court, Middle District on 03/22/04. An Evidentiary Hearing was held on 02/21/08. On 07/02/09, the United States District Court ordered this petition to be stayed and administratively closed this case due to a pending Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court.
On 08/21/09, a Petition for Writ of Certiorari was filed in the United States Supreme Court. This petition was denied on 11/02/09.
DATE DAYS VIOLATION LOCATION
-------- -------- ---------------------------- -------------------
04/30/96 10 POSS OF CONTRABAND FSP
05/28/96 60 REF. SUB. ABUSE TEST FSP
06/04/96 30 LYING TO STAFF FSP
10/21/96 0 REF. SUB. ABUSE TEST FSP
09/01/98 80 REF. SUB. ABUSE TEST CENTRAL
02/06/99 30 VISITING VIOLATIONS FSP
Report Date 06/10/02 EW
Approved 06/12/02 WS
Updated 04/29/10 EMJ
 Corpus delecti – proof, independent of a confession, that the crime charged was, in fact, committed.