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 upon for statistical or legal purposes.
LARZELERE, Virginia Gail (W/F)
Volusia County, Seventh Judicial Circuit, Case# 91-2561CFAES
Sentencing Judge, Trial: The Honorable John W. Watson, III
Attorney, Trial: John Wilkins – Private
Attorney, Direct Appeal: Christopher S. Quarles – Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, Collateral Appeals: David D. Hendry – CCRC-M
Date of Offense: 03/08/91
Date of Sentence: 05/11/93
Date of Resentence: 08/01/08
Circumstances of Offense:
Virginia Larzelere was married to the victim, Norman Larzelere, who was a dentist. Virginia was the office manager for Norman’s practice. During the afternoon of 03/08/91, a masked gunman entered the dental office. The gunman chased Norman down and shot him with a shotgun and then fled. Norman died shortly after being shot. A patient, a dental assistant, and Virginia were all present in the office at the time of the shooting.
Virginia and her son, Jason, were charged with the murder. The State theorized that Virginia and Jason conspired to kill Norman in order to cash in a $2 million life insurance policy and $1 million in assets.
The following evidence was presented by the state at trial. Two different men presented testimony stating that they had engaged in affairs with Virginia and that she had asked them to assist her in killing her husband. Two additional witnesses, Steven Heidle and Kristen Palmieri, received immunity and testified to various incriminating statements and actions made by Jason and Virginia concerning the murder. Heidle and Palmieri testified that the night before the murder, Virginia sent Jason to pick up documents from a storage unit. Those documents included Norman’s life insurance policies and will. They also said that Virgina said to Jason after the murder, “Don’t worry, you’ll get your $200,000 for taking care of business.” Heidle and Palmieri said that Virginia told both of them that Jason screwed up by showing up at Norman’s practice half an hour late. If Jason had arrived on time, it would have been 12:30 p.m. and the dental assistant, as well as the patient, would not have been present. The two witnesses said that Virginia told them to get rid of a .45 handgun and a shotgun by encasing them in concrete and disposing of them in a creek. In the days after the murder, the two witnesses said that Virginia and Jason reenacted the murder, with Virginia playing the role of the victim and Jason playing the role of the gunman. The shotgun was recovered from the creek, but no conclusive determination was made as to whether it was the weapon used in the murder.
Virginia gave several different versions of the murder in her testimony to the police. Both the descriptions of the gunman and the getaway car changed. The patient who witnessed the murder heard the victim say just after he was shot, “Jason, is that you?”
Over the six years before the murder, Virginia took out seven different life insurance policies on the victim. In the six months before the murder, she doubled the amount payable from $1 million to $2 million. The victim helped to obtain these policies, but Virginia was dominant in pursuing the policies. Virginia also gave false statements and information in order to get the policies. Additionally, Virginia filed a fraudulent will designating her as the sole heir to the estate shortly after the murder. The will was submitted on the same day that one of the biggest insurance policies went into effect.
Jason Larzelere was 18-years-old at the time of the slaying by the masked gunmen. He was acquitted of the first-degree murder charge and accepted a $75,000 insurance settlement in 1994.
05/24/91 Indicted as follows:
Count I: First-Degree Murder
08/17/92 Jury returned guilty verdicts on all counts of the indictment and recommended death by a vote of 7-5
05/14/93 Sentenced as follows:
Count I: First-Degree Murder – Death
02/28/08 FSC vacated the sentence of death and remanded for a new sentencing proceeding
08/01/08 Resentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole in 25 years.
Florida Supreme Court – Direct Appeal
676 So. 2d 394
05/21/93 Appeal filed
03/28/96 FSC affirmed conviction and sentence
07/11/96 Rehearing denied
08/12/96 Mandate issued
United States Supreme Court – Petition for Writ of Certiorari
519 U.S. 1043; 117 S. Ct. 615; 136 L. Ed. 2d 539
10/09/96 Petition filed
12/16/96 Petition denied
State Circuit Court – 3.850 Motion
11/25/97 Motion filed
08/31/00 Amended motion filed
01/14/03 Second amended motion filed
03/24/05 Death sentence overturned and remanded for resentencing
Florida Supreme Court – 3.850 Appeal
04/11/05 Appeal filed by the State of Florida
02/28/08 Trial Court’s decision affirmed; FSC remands for new sentencing hearing
04/21/08 Mandate issued
Florida Supreme Court – Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus
01/30/06 Petition filed
02/28/08 Petition denied
03/14/08 Motion for Rehearing filed
04/03/08 Motion for Rehearing denied
04/21/08 Mandate issued
Factors Contributing to the Delay in Imposition of Sentence:
The 3.850 Motion was pending in the Circuit Court for over seven years.
The Direct Appeal was filed to the Florida Supreme Court on 05/21/93. Issues that were raised included whether the trial judge improperly limited the defense’s impeachment of a witness and whether the trial judge erred in admitted selected portions of taped statements and in refusing the request to introduce the complete statements. The Florida Supreme Court found all of the issues either harmless or without merit. The Court affirmed the conviction and death sentence on 03/28/96.
Larzelere filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the United States Supreme Court on 10/09/96, which was denied on 12/16/96.
A 3.850 Motion was filed to the Circuit Court on 11/25/97. The motion was amended twice on 08/31/00 and 01/14/03. On 03/24/05, Larzelere’s death sentence was overturned and ordered for resentencing by Judge Watson, who claimed that Larzelere’s lawyers did not present important evidence during the original penalty phase. Judge Watson concluded that Larzelere’s attorneys did not spend enough time preparing for the penalty phase and noted her jury did not hear evidence about her mental health issues and sexual abuse as a child.
On 04/11/05, the State of Florida filed a 3.850 Appeal of the trial court’s decision to vacate Larzelere’s death sentence in the Florida Supreme Court. On 02/28/08, the Florida Supreme Court released its opinion affirming the trial court’s order insofar that it vacates Larzelere’s death sentence and remands for a new sentencing proceeding before a jury. The Florida Supreme Court issued a mandate in this case on 04/21/08.
On 01/30/06, Larzelere filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus to the Florida Supreme Court. This Habeas petition was denied on 02/28/08. Larzelere filed a Motion for Rehearing on 03/14/08 which was denied on 04/03/08. The Florida Supreme Court issued a mandate in this case on 04/21/08.
On 08/01/08, the Circuit Court resentenced Larzelere to life in prison with the possibility of parole in 25 years.
DATE DAYS VIOLATION LOCATION
-------- ---- ----------------- -------------------
09/23/04 0 LYING TO STAFF LOWELL ANNEX
Report Date: 12/03/02 CC
Approved: 12/15/02 WS
Updated: 08/07/08 AEH