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Last NameFirst NamePictureDC NumberAgencyCase Summary
HayesRobert 710372 Case Summary

Last Action

DateCourtCase NumberLast Action
7/16/1997  Released

Current Attorney


Last Updated

2008-01-09 11:43:13.0

Case Summary
Direct Links

admissibility question which should be governed by the standardsannounced by the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeal

HAYES, Robert (B/M)

DC # 710372

DOB:  12/12/63


Seventeenth Judicial Circuit, Broward County, Case #90-3993-CF10

Sentencing Judge:  The Honorable Stanton S. Kaplan

Attorney, Criminal Trial:  Barbara Ann Heyer – SpecialPublic Defender

Attorney, Direct Appeal:  Richard B. Greene – AssistantPublic Defender

Attorney, Retrial:  Barbara Ann Heyer – Special PublicDefender    


Date of Offense:         02/20/90    

Date of Sentence:       06/05/92   


Circumstances of Offense:


Robert Hayes was convicted and sentenced to death for thestrangulation of Pamela Albertson, a co-worker at the Pompano Harness Track.


When Pamela Albertson did not show up for work on themorning of 02/20/90, the security officials of the Pompano Harness Track wentto her dormitory room in search of her.  When security officials arrived at thedormitory where Albertson and the other female grooms[1]lived, they found her strangled body lying on the floor in blue jeans and a t-shirt.   


Investigation into the murder quickly led to the questioningand, eventually, the arrest of Robert Hayes.  Witness testimony and DNAevidence placed Hayes at the murder scene; however, there was also evidencethat someone else could have possibly perpetrated the crime.  Pamela Albertsonwas found with several strands of Caucasian hair clutched in her hand.   Thehairs were inconsistent with Hayes’ hair, as he was African-American. 


At trial, the State intended to prove Hayes’ guilt throughDNA evidence, witness testimony, testimony of a jailhouse informant and evidenceof a strikingly similar collateral attack.  Further examination of the DNAevidence revealed semen on a tank top and in the vagina of Pamela Albertson. Tests confirmed a three-band match on the tank top and a seven-band match onthe vaginal swab for compatibility with Hayes.  Additionally, employees of thePompano Harness Track stated that they saw a man fitting Hayes’ description atAlbertson’s dormitory on the night of her murder.  Several people testifiedthat Albertson had expressed fear of being alone with the defendant, althoughno formal complaint had ever been filed.  The State also introduced evidencethat Hayes had attacked another co-worker at a horse track in New Jersey. Debbie Lesko filed a complaint against Hayes in 1988, stating he pinned her onthe floor and began choking her.  When Hayes let Lesko go, she promptly calledpolice and Hayes was arrested for simple assault.  Those charges were laterdropped.  Finally, Ronald Morrison, Hayes’ cellmate in Broward County Jail,testified that Hayes, in essence, confessed to being in Albertson’s room thatnight, choking her, and fleeing through the window.  The State relied on suchevidence to obtain a conviction of First-Degree Murder on 10/29/91.


Additional Information:


On 06/26/89, prior to his murder conviction, Hayes wasarrested on charges of robbery and burglary in Wilmington, Delaware.  Thevictim, Lillian Shephard, reported that Hayes had sexually harassed her on manyoccasions, and on the date of the referenced offense, Hayes broke into herapartment and choked her until she lost consciousness.  She awoke to see Hayesleaving her apartment.  Hayes pled guilty to these charges and received twoyears probation.


Trial Summary:


03/22/90          Defendant indicted on:

                                    Count I:  First-DegreeMurder

10/29/91          Thejury found the defendant guilty of First-Degree Murder, as charged in theindictment.

11/14/91          Uponadvisory sentencing, the jury, by a 10 to 2 majority, voted for the deathpenalty.

06/05/92          Thedefendant was sentenced as followed:

                                    CountI:  First-Degree Murder – Death

06/02/95          FSCvacated Hayes’ death sentence and remanded for a retrial.

07/16/97          RobertHayes was acquitted of the murder of Pamela Albertson.


Appeal Summary:


Florida Supreme Court, Direct Appeal

FSC # 79,997

660 So. 2d 257


06/11/92          Appeal filed.

06/02/95          FSCreversed the conviction, vacated the death sentence and remanded for a newtrial.

09/13/95          Rehearingdenied.

10/13/95          Mandateissued.


Case Information:


On 06/11/92, Hayes filed a Direct Appeal in the Florida SupremeCourt.  In this appeal, he argued that the DNA results were fallacious due tothe unreliable means by which they were tested.  Holding DNA testing, or anynew scientific principle, up to the highest standards of credibility, theFlorida Supreme Court insisted that the evidence or expert testimony inquestion must assist the jury in determining the fact in an issue, must passthe dictates of the Frye test established in Frye v. United States[2],and must be presented by a qualified expert on the subject.  In examining theissues of the Hayes’ case, the unreliable technique of “band-shifting” was usedto explain the DNA test results in terms of the probability that Hayes left thesemen found on the tank top.  The Florida Supreme Court ruled that the “band-shifting”method employed in the Hayes case was inadmissible as a matter of law, and, assuch, the tank top was erroneously admitted as evidence.  The high court did,however, rule that the semen found in Albertson’s vagina was properly testedand could be presented as credible evidence in Hayes’ retrial. Hayes alsoraised the issue of collateral crime evidence in his appeal.  The prosecutionpresented evidence that Hayes attacked another female co-worker at a track in New Jersey.  The prosecution sought to show the similarities between that attack and themurder of Pamela Albertson; however, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that therewere “insufficient points of similarity to the instant offense to warrantadmitting evidence of the previous attack.”  As such, the high court deemed theadmittance of collateral crime evidence as error. In addition, Hayes objectedat trial and argued on appeal the admittance of hearsay evidence regarding thevictim’s supposed fear of him.  The Florida Supreme Court agreed, and foundthat the trial court erred in allowing the hearsay testimony. The fourth matterbrought up in appeal was the prosecution’s elicitation of testimony concerningthe defense’s failure to request various tests of evidence.  The FloridaSupreme Court found error as allowing such testimony insinuated that the burdenof proof lied with the defense.

On 06/02/95, the Florida Supreme Court reversed Hayes’conviction, vacated his death sentence and remanded for retrial.  


Upon retrial, the jury acquitted Hayes of the murder ofPamela Albertson.


Law Enforcement/ Prosecution Statements:


A letter requesting comment was sent to the Broward CountySheriff’s Department on 05/01/02.  No response has been received to date.


Carolyn V. McCann of the State Attorney’s Office for theSeventeenth Circuit issued the following statement concerning Hayes’ case:


The [Florida Supreme Court] ruledthat as a matter of first impression that the “band-shifting” technique of DNAtesting would be inadmissible as a matter of law regarding Hayes’ DNA found onthe victim’s shirt.  The Court did not make the same ruling as to Hayes’DNA found in the victim’s vagina.  On retrial, the State presented evidence ofHayes’ DNA found in the victim’s vagina.  However, the defense challenged thisevidence with other evidence that hairs inconsistent with Hayes’ were foundclutched in the victim’s hand and expert DNA testimony that many thought wasquestionable.  In the end, the jury disregarded the fact that Hayes’ DNA wasfound in the victim’s vagina and acquitted him of murder.


Defense Statements:


Defense Attorney Barbara Ann Heyer commented:


            TheFlorida Supreme Court’s decision in the Hayes Case was beneficial in a numberof ways.  First, it clarified the use of DNA evidence and second, it clarifiedquestions surrounding the Williams rule.  I believe the court made the rightdecision in finding Hayes not guilty because he was innocent.


Current Status:


Robert Hayes is currently serving a 15-45 year sentence in New York for manslaughter, burglary, and attempted arson.  He is eligible for parole on08/06/18.



Report Date:   03/07/02          ew

Approved:       03/11/02          ws

Updated:         10/13/06          jfl

[1]Female groom – a woman employed to take care of horses or a stable.

[2]Frye v. United States - Supreme Court case that established theguidelines for considering novel scientific techniques or methods in verifyingevidence or testimony.  The Frye test asks whether expert testimony is based ona scientific principle that is "sufficientlyestablished to have gained general acceptance in the particular field in whichit belongs."