Let’s talk blood.
Pictured here on the website you see the t-shirt Tommy wore underneath a red dress shirt, the night he was shot and, was supposed to die. On the front of the t-shirt you see a big blood stain underneath the left armpit, right? And on the back of the t-shirt, you see the blood underneath the left arm pit again and on the bottom right, the blood coming from the exit wound where he was shot in the abdomen.
Let’s talk about the left arm pit stain. The State’s case against Zeigler was based on the contention that Zeigler killed his father-in-law, Perry Edwards and, therefore, the blood under Zeigler’s left arm (and on the front of Zeigler’s t-shirt) is from the bleeding head of Perry Edwards as Zeigler administered the fatal beating. One of the key pieces of evidence against Tommy was, that the blood stain revealed blood type A. Both his wife Eunice and her father, Perry Edwards had blood type A…as well as Charlie Mays!
During the original investigation, decisions were made that nowadays would make any cop scream. With multiple victims of whom some were blood related, it would only make sense to not just blood type the evidence but also, to test for DNA. Really, how many people on earth have blood type O positive? One in 3 people! Check the blood book, if you want to know more about that.
Let’s go back to the stains.
The chief contention on which the jury convicted Zeigler was that since Zeigler had his father-in-law’s blood type on his t-shirt underneath the left armpit, it followed that Zeigler had held Perry Edwards in a headlock, beat and later also shot him! And, if he did that to his father-in-law, he certainly was responsible for the shooting deaths of the others. The problem here is of course, that with blood typing, only a part of the story was told. Yes, Tommy had been fighting with someone. Only, that person was Charlie Mays and not his very own father-in-law. But alas, as stated above, both men had blood type A.
Decades later, Laboratory Corporation of America (LabCorp) in North Carolina performed DNA testing on the t-shirt and other items. Blood Samples of six persons were forwarded to LabCorp: Perry Edwards, Virginia Edwards, Eunice Zeigler, Charlie Mays, Felton Thomas, and Tommy Zeigler.
The key DNA test results were that the tested blood on Zeigler’s t-shirt (under the left arm), on the front pocket of his outer shirt, and on his pants (back, left pocket and left knee) is not the blood of Perry Edwards. It is the blood of Charlie Mays. Zeigler did not have any of Perry Edwards’ blood on him! The other blood on the t-shirt was Zeigler’s own.
Zeigler never denied that he fought with Mays and now we have proof of the battle between these two men. We now have one key piece of evidence that actually exonerates Zeigler. But, this constant connection of the Type A blood of Perry Edwards with the heavy bloodstain under Zeigler’s left arm laid the foundation for Eagan’s closing argument on this point: “You will have the opportunity to examine Mr. Zeigler’s clothing…You will see a soaked area of blood under the left armpit of those shirts. That could have gotten there only by his having someone in his arm who was Type A blood. He didn’t get that crawling around on the floor. Who was bleeding Type A blood!”
It set the stage for Zeigler’s conviction. It took the jury exactly 25 minutes…
To be continued…Actual Innocence, Autopsy, Ballistics, Capital Punishment, Crime Labs, Crime Scene, DNA, Evidence, Expert Testimony, Faulty Evidence, Forensics, Identification, Miscarriage of Justice, Prosecutorial Misconduct, Unsolved Homicide, Victim, William Thomas Zeigler, Witnesses, Wrongful Convictions