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Last NameFirst NamePictureDC NumberAgencyCase Summary
GoldenAndrew 365791 Case Summary

Last Action

DateCourtCase NumberLast Action
11/10/1993  Released

Current Attorney


Last Updated

2008-01-09 11:43:13.0

Case Summary
Direct Links

Golden, Andrew

GOLDEN, Andrew, (W/M)

DC# 365791

DOB: 06/14/44  


Tenth Judicial Circuit, Polk County, Case # 90-1778

Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Robert E. Pyle

Trial Attorney: Allen R. Smith Esq.

Attorney, Direct Appeal: Gwendolyn Spivey, Esq.


Date of Offense:         09/13/89

Date of Sentence:       11/15/91


Circumstance of Offense:


On 9/13/89, at 3:30 a.m., a police officer found the body ofArdelle Golden floating in Lake Hartridge, which is located in Winter Haven , Florida. Golden’s rented car was submerged in the lake. On 4/5/90, her husband, Andrew Golden, was indicted for her murder.


At trial, Andrew Golden testified that he and his wife hadbeen at Lake Hartridge on the evening of 09/12/89 and had returned home at approximately 11:00 p.m. He claimed that upon returning home, his wife couldnot find her cigarette case and went out to go look for it and to purchase morecigarettes. Mr. Golden claimed that he stayed home and went to sleep. When Mr.Golden awoke the next morning, he asked his eldest son where his mother was.His son did not know where his mother was and left the home shortly after 6:00 a.m. to look for her. He was, however, unable to find her and returned home and thenleft again shortly thereafter to report to his school that he would be late.Golden called the police to report that his wife was missing. Two detectivescame to the Golden home and, while they were there gathering information, theyreceived a radio call informing them that the drowning victim was identified asAndrew Golden’s wife. Mr. Golden was subsequently arrested a month after hiswife’s drowning for First-Degree Murder.


The State presented evidence at trial that the cigarettecase that Mr. Golden claimed his wife “was going crazy looking for” wasdiscovered floating in the lake near Mrs. Golden’s body and an unopened packageof cigarettes was found inside of her purse. The State claimed thatinvestigators went to every convenience store in close proximity to the Goldenhome, and there were no clerks who could identify Mrs. Golden as being acustomer that evening. Mrs. Golden’s body was found floating in the lakewithout her glasses, which were discovered inside of her purse. Mrs. Golden’svision was 400/20, and an expert testified that Mrs. Golden was extremelynearsighted and would not have been able to see more than 10 inches awaywithout her glasses; therefore, she would not have been able to drive the carto the lake prior to driving the vehicle into the water.


The State introduced evidence that, although Goldeninitially denied that he had any insurance, the family had more than $300,000in life insurance policies. It was determined that Golden forged his wife’ssignature on life insurance applications, most of which were purchased withinthe five months prior to Ardelle Golden’s death. Additionally, the rented cardiscovered in the lake was rented by Mr. Golden, who used his American Expresscard. American Express automatically provided $200,000.00 in accidental deathinsurance. The State pointed out that the Goldens owned two cars; therefore,renting an additional car would have been an unnecessary expense.


The State proved that Golden had not been gainfully employedfor approximately two years and was over $200,000.00 in debt. Golden filed forbankruptcy after his wife’s death and never related to his bankruptcy attorneythat he anticipated receiving an insurance settlement. In closing arguments,the State argued that Golden drowned his wife and drove the car into the lake.The State contended that Golden forged his wife’s signature on severalinsurance applications and then murdered her to collect on the policies.


Mr. Golden’s attorney argued that Golden was not aware ofthe existence of the policies because they were offered by their credit cardcompanies. The defense claimed that Golden was contacted by the credit cardcompanies after his wife’s death and that he did not pursue them for payment.


The jury convicted Golden and recommended that he besentenced to death. The trial court agreed with the jury recommendation andsentenced Golden to death on 11/15/91.


Trial Summary:


04/05/90          Defendant was indicted for one count ofFirst-Degree Murder.

10/28/91          Defendant was found Guilty by the trialjury.

10/28/91          Thejury, upon advisory recommendation, recommended death by a vote of 8 to 4.

11/15/91          Defendant sentenced:

                                    Count I: First-DegreeMurder – Death


Appeal Summary:


Florida Supreme Court, Direct Appeal

FSC# 78,982

629 So. 2d 109(Fla. 1993)


11/25/91          Appeal filed

11/10/93          FSC vacated Golden’s conviction and sentence and directed that he bereleased from custody.

11/17/93          Motion for rehearing filed (State filed)

01/05/94          Rehearing denied

01/05/94          Mandate issued

Case History:


On 11/25/91, Golden filed a Direct Appeal in the FloridaSupreme Court. The main issue, on appeal, was that there was insufficientevidence to prove that his wife’s death resulted from the criminal agency ofanother person.


The Supreme Court stated that “. . . the finger of suspicionpoints heavily at Golden. A reasonable juror could conclude that he more thanlikely caused his wife’s death.” The Court concluded, however, that the State’scircumstantial evidence was insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubtthat Mr. Golden’s wife’s drowning was not an accident. The Court subsequently vacatedthe conviction and sentence and ordered that Golden be released.



Prosecution/ Law Enforcement Statements:


John Aguero, Director, Special Prosecution, State Attorney’sOffice - Tenth Judicial Circuit, wrote:


I received your memo and list ofthe “21 innocent” defendants convicted and sentenced to death. I write only tocomment on one, Andrew Golden. This abominable opinion by the Florida SupremeCourt was an insult to the memory of Ardelle Golden and to the jurors and thejudge who heard the case. The Supreme Court just decided to be 13thjuror and disagree with everyone else. They overturned this conviction andsentence saying that “The finger of suspicion points heavily at Golden. Areasonable juror could conclude that he more likely than not caused his wife’sdeath.” They also said “There were no wounds or other signs of violence on thebody.” This last quote shows that they completely misapprehended the manner inwhich Mr. Golden killed his wife. They paid absolutely no attention to theFACTS. If they had, Mr. Golden would still be on death row where he belongs.The reason the above quote is of particular significance is that Mr. Goldenclaimed his wife drove her car into the lake. I proved she would have to havebeen going over 35 miles per hour to get the car as far out in the lake as itwas found. According to the testimony of the medical examiner and the accidentreconstruction expert, either the woman should have had seat belt injuries (shealways wore a seat belt) or, in an unexpected crash like thedefense theorized, she would have hit the windshield. Thus it was precisely theLACK OF INJURIES that helped prove the case. Of course there was a multitude ofother evidence, but this complete lack of understanding in deciding a deathpenalty case is what misleads people like those who think there were 21innocent people on death row. I got calls from three of the jurors after Mr.Golden was released. Each asked me essentially, who the hell does the SupremeCourt

think they are? They didn’t sit throughthis trial. I challenge anyone who thinks Mr. Golden is innocent to sit downand talk to me. They won’t think he’s innocent when they leave.”


A request for comment was made to Deputy Chief DarrellKirkland of the Winter Haven Police Department. A response has not beenreceived to date.


Defense Attorney Statements:


Gwendolyn Spivey, Golden’s attorney on Direct Appeal statedthat any information relative to this case may be found in her Direct Appealinitial brief. She stated, “The Florida Supreme Court did an excellent jobregarding this case.”


Current Status:


Andrew Golden is presently serving a fifteen-year prisonsentence in Texas for three separate cases of Indecency with a Child.  Hisprojected release date is 03/16/07.



Report Date:   03/25/02          WHS

Updated:         10/05/06          JFL