Page 7 of Detective

Sergeant Malcolm Ainslie had been among those attending a pretrial strategy meeting at which Ms. Montesino said, "With the Tempone case we'll have a cast-iron prosecution."

She used her fingers to tick off crucial points. "Doil was arrested at the scene with both victims' blood on him. We have the knife found in Doil's possession, identified by the medical examiner as the murder weapon, and also with both victims' blood. And we have a strong eyewitness to the murders, whom the jury will sympathize with. No twelve people in the world would let Doil off on this one."

The witness to whom she referred was the Tempones' twelve-year-old grandson, Ivan. The boy had been visiting his grandparents and was the only other person in the house when Doil broke in and attacked the elderly couple.

Young Ivan was in the next room, where he remained transfixed, watching with silent horror through a partially open door while his grandparents were continually cut and stabbed. Though terrified, knowing he would be killed if discovered, the boy had the sense and courage to go silently to a phone and call 911.

Although police arrived too late to save Kingsley and Nellie Tempone, they were in time to catch Elroy Doil, who was still on the victims' property, his gloved hands and clothing covered in their blood. Ivan, after being treated for shock, described the attack with such clarity and composure that Adele Montesino knew he would be convincing on the witness stand.

"But if we prosecute those other cases as well," the state attorney continued, "we do not, in any one, have the same positive, incontestable proof. Yes, there's circumstantial evidence. We can prove opportunity, and that Doil was close by when the killings happened, and that he has no alibis. From the first serial killing there's a partial palm print that is almost certainly Doil's, though our fingerprint technicians caution there are only seven matching points, instead of the nine or ten needed for a positive ID. Also, Dr. Sanchez said a bowie knife, which killed the Tempones, is not the same knife used on other victims. Oh, I know he could have had several knives, and probably did, but the police haven't found another.

"So you can be sure any defense lawyer would make the most of those weaknesses. And if the defense infused enough doubt into those other murders, a jury could begin wondering if our one airtight, certain case the Tempones is also questionable.

"Look, we're going to get a guilty verdict for the Tempones, which will send Doil to the chair. We can only kill the man once. Right?"

Despite the protests, the state attorney declined to alter her tactic. In the end, though, what Montesino had not foreseen was that her failure to charge Doil with at least one other double murder out of a presumed total of twelve serial killings would create a post-trial impression especially among anti-capital-punishment crusaders that some doubt existed overall, even extending to the one case where Doil was found guilty and sentenced to death.

Doil's eventual trial for the Tempone killings as Malcolm Ainslie remembered abounded with confrontations, stormy polemics, and even violence.

Since the defendant had no financial resources, the presiding judge, Rudy Olivadotti, appointed an experienced criminal trial attorney, Willard Steltzer, to represent Doil.

Steltzer was well known in Miami's legal community, in part for brilliance in court, but also for his eccentric appearance and manner. At forty he still refused to conform to the traditional lawyer's dress code, opting for antique suits and ties, generally from the fifties and bought at specialty shops. He also wore his long, coal-black hair in a braid.

True to form, Steltzer's first action as Doil's attorney rankled both the prosecution and Judge Olivadotti. Arguing that it would be impossible to find an impartial jury in Dade County, owing to widespread publicity, Steltzer filed a motion for a change of venue.

The judge, despite his irritation, ruled in favor of the motion and the trial was moved to Jacksonville, Florida nearly four hundred miles north of Miami.

As another defense ploy, Steltzer sought to have his client declared insane. He cited Doil's fits of rage, the fact that he had been abused as a child, a ferocious violence demonstrated in prison, and his habitual lying, underscored by Doil's insistence that he was never anywhere near the Tempone home, despite evidence that even defense counsel admitted was conclusive.

They were all valid reasons for possible insanity, Steltzer believed, and again Judge Olivadotti reluctantly agreed. He ordered Doil to be examined by three statecertified psychiatrists, whose study lasted four months.

At the end, the psychiatrists concluded that, yes, all of the assessments of Elroy Doil's nature and habits submitted by his defense attorney were true. However, these did not make Doil insane. The crucial issue was that he knew the difference between right and wrong. The judge thereupon declared Doil to be mentally competent and ordered him to stand trial for first-degree murder.

Doil's presence at his trial was unlikely to be forgotten by anyone who attended it. He was an enormous man, standing six feet four and weighing two hundred and ninety pounds. His facial features were large, his chest broad and muscular, his hands immense. Everything about Elroy Doil was oversized, including his ego. Each day he moved into the courtroom with a superior, menacing swagger and a sneer. The combination made him seem indifferent, at times, to events around him an attitude that persisted throughout his trial and beyond. One reporter wrote in a summation, "Elroy Doil might just as well have asked for his own conviction."

What might have helped him, as it had on past occasions, would have been the presence of his mother, who was wise in the ways of crime and the law. But Beulah Doil had died several years earlier of AIDS.

As it was, Doil remained abusive and hostile. Even during jury selection he blurted out such remarks to his counsel as, "Get that fucking grease monkey out of here!" speaking of a garage mechanic whom Willard Steltzer had been on the verge of approving as a juror. Because a defendant's wishes count, Steltzer was forced to reverse himself, then use a precious peremptory challenge for dismissal.

Again, when a dignified black woman showed some empathy toward Doil, he shouted, "That dumb nigger couldn't see the truth if it ran over her." The woman was excused.

At that point the judge, who until now had refrained from comment, cautioned the accused, "Mr. Doil, you had better settle down and be quiet."

There was a pause while Willard Steltzer, visibly disturbed and clenching his client's arm, spoke seriously into Doil's ear. After that the interruptions ceased during jury selection, but resumed when the main trial proceedings began.

A Dade County medical examiner, Dr. Sandra Sanchez, was on the witness stand. She had testified that a bowie knife, bearing the victims' blood and found in Elroy Doil's possession, was the actual weapon that killed Kingsley and Nellie Tempone.

At that point Doil, his face twisted with rage, rose from the defense table and shouted, "You fucking bitch, why you tell them lies? All lies! It ain't my knife. I wasn't even there."

Judge Olivadotti, a martinet with lawyers but known for giving a defendant all the latitude he could, now warned sternly, "Mr. Doil, if you do not remain silent, I am going to have to take extreme measures to keep you quiet. This is a serious warning."

To which Doil responded, "Screw you, Judge. I'm tired of sitting here, listening to all this bullshit. This ain't no court of justice. You already made up your minds, so execute me, goddammit! Get it over with!"

Flushed with anger, the judge addressed Willard Steltzer: "Counsel, I order you to talk some sense into your client. This is my final warning. Court is adjourned for fifteen minutes."

After the adjournment, Doil was fidgety but silent while two crime-scene specialists testified. Then, when Ainslie took the stand and described the arrest at the Tempone murder scene, Doil exploded. Leaping from his seat, he raced across the court and hurled himself at Ainslie, screaming obscenities. "Crooked conniving cop . . . I wasn't even there . . . fucking priest, disgraced. God hates you! . . . Bastard, liar. . ."

As Doil pounded with his fists, Ainslie barely protected himself, raising one arm as a shield, and did not strike back. In seconds, two bailiffs and a prison officer threw themselves on Doil. Pulling him clear, they locked his arms behind him, wrestled handcuffs into place, then slammed him face forward to the ground.

Once more, Judge Olivadotti adjourned the trial.

When it resumed, Elroy Doil was tightly gagged, and handcuffed to a heavy chair. The judge addressed him sternly.

"Never before, Mr. Doil, at any court proceeding, have I ordered a defendant restrained as you are now, and I regret this action greatly. But your disorderly behavior and abusive language leave me no choice. However, if your counsel comes to me tomorrow, before this trial resumes, with your solemn promise of good behavior for however long these proceedings take, I will consider having the restraints removed. But I caution that if your promise is broken, there will be no second chance; the restraints will be reinstated for the remainder of this trial."

The next day, Steltzer did make the promise on behalf of his client, and Doil's gag was removed, though the handcuffs remained. Before the day's proceedings were an hour old, Doil leaped up in his chair and screamed at the judge, "Go fuck your mother, you asshole!" after which the gag was reinstated and remained in place for the duration of the trial.

On both occasions when the restraints were ordered, the judge cautioned the jury, "The restrictions I have placed upon the defendant must have no effect on your verdict. You are concerned here solely with the evidence presented."

Ainslie remembered thinking how impossible it was for the jurors to ignore the image of Doil's courtroom histrionics. But whether that influenced a decision or not, at the conclusion of a six-day trial, and after five hours of deliberation, the jury returned with a unanimous verdict: "Guilty of murder in the first degree."

A sentence of death inevitably followed. Subsequently, while still insisting on his innocence, Doil refused to cooperate in any appeal process and stubbornly denied others the right to appeal on his behalf. Even so, substantial paperwork was needed before the legal machinery ground out an execution date. The law's tedious process between sentencing and execution took a year and seven months.

But now, inexorably, the day had come, and with it the tantalizing question: What did Doil want to say to Ainslie in the closing moments of his life?

If they made it in time. . .

* * *

Jorge was still speeding north on Highway 441 in the mist and rain.

Ainslie checked the time: 5:48.

He reached for his notepad and the cellular phone, then tapped out the number. There was a curt answer on the first ring.

"State Prison."

"Lieutenant Hambrick, please."

"This is Hambrick. Is this Sergeant Ainslie?"

"Yes, sir. I'm about twenty minutes away."

"Well, you've cut it fine, but we'll do our best when you get here. You understand, though nothing can be delayed?"

"I understand that."

"Do you have your escort yet?"

"No . . . Wait! I see a traffic light ahead."

Jorge nodded vigorously as two green lights came into view.

"Turn right at the light," Hambrick instructed. "Your escort is around the corner. We're alerting Trooper Sequiera now. He'll be rolling when you get there."