- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 19, 2003

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Feb. 19 (UPI) — Ronny Zamora, convicted of murder in the first trial ever televised, will be paroled in 2005 — seven years early.

Zamora, 40, had been sentenced to serve time until 2012 after a 1977 Miami trial in which his defense was that he was intoxicated by watching too much television and didn't know right from wrong.

The Florida Parole Commission cut his sentence Wednesday and said they would re-evaluate his case at the end of this year.

Family members had hoped Zamora could be released this week, but they said they were happy with the reduction.

"We can finally see the light," said Manny Zamora of San Diego, Zamora's younger brother. "I'll tell you without any reservation, I'm thrilled."

"They (the family) may be pleased, but I'm very disappointed. I think he should have gotten out a long time ago," said Ellis Rubin, who was Zamora's defense attorney.

Parole commissioners have said they are impressed with the native Costa Rican's record as a prisoner, taking classes and teaching Spanish to other inmates.

Miami-Dade County prosecutor Jay Novick told the commission that the three grandchildren of Zamora's victim — 83-year-old Elinor Haggert — want him imprisoned for life.

The assistant state attorney who prosecuted the case told the commission two years ago that he favored Zamora's release.

Zamora was 15 when he was convicted of murder and robbing Haggert, and using the money for a trip to Walt Disney World.

It was the first time a criminal trial was televised. Zamora drew sympathy because of Rubin's television intoxication defense, which many people considered foolhardy.

The judge refused to let most of Rubin's expert witnesses testify.

During the trial, one of the people who interviewed Zamora was Costa Rican television commentator Abel Pacheco. He is now the president of the country.

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