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Eric L. SIMMONS

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Kidnapping - Rape
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: December 3, 2001
Date of birth: November 23, 1974
Victim profile: Deborah Tressler
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Lake County, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on December 11, 2003
 
 
 
 
 

Supreme Court of Florida

 

opinion SC04-19

 
 
 
 
 
 

DC#  461776
DOB:  11/23/74

Fifth Judicial Circuit, Lake County Case #0102577
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Michael T. Johnson
Attorney, Trial: Jeffery M Pfister Ė Public Defender
Attorney, Direct Appeal: Janice C. Orr Ė Private
Attorney, Collateral Appeals: David Hendry, David Bass, James Driscoll Ė CCRC-M

Date of Offense: 12/03/01

Date of Sentence: 12/11/03

Circumstances of Offense:

Eric Simmons was indicted and convicted of the kidnapping, sexual battery and murder of Deborah Tressler. 

On 12/03/01, Tresslerís body was discovered in a wooded area by a patrolling officer.  Crime Scene Technicians photographed the scene and took evidence such as beer cans, larvae off the exterior of the body, and casts of the tire tracks that had the greatest detail.  No fingerprints of value or bullet shells were found at the scene.  Many tire track prints near the body were destroyed in the dig looking for bullets.

The larvae collected from Tresslerís body were used to determine the date of death to be 12/01/03.

Since there was no blood or disturbance to the debris around the body, it was concluded that the murder had taken place elsewhere.  The victim had blunt trauma to the head and face, a cut on the neck and a stab wound five inches deep in the lower abdomen. 

She had injuries to her legs and knees along with defensive wounds to her hands and arms.  She also had bruising and lacerations to her anus which were determined to be caused by an object inconsistent with consensual anal intercourse.

Detectives investigated the laundromat where Tressler worked.  They found her purse there with a gift list for Eric Simmons and his family members. No blood was found at the laundromat.

Simmonsí car was confiscated for investigation.  Evidence of blood stains was found on the passengerís door, car floor and cushions.  The rear tires of Simmons car were a possible match to the tire tracks found at the scene. 

Jose Rodriguez testified that he saw Simmons and Tressler talking together in the laundromat on the evening of 12/01/03.  Rodriguez, however, incorrectly identified a photograph as Simmons.  It wasnít until later, when a single photograph of Simmons was shown to Rodriguez, that he accurately identified Simmons.

During trial, two witnesses testified that on 12/01/03, at the Circle K, a car drove by and a girl opened the door, screamed for help and attempted to escape. The first witness identified Simmons car as being similar to the car he saw on that night, but not identical. 

The second witness from the Circle K positively identified Simmonsí car, however, she testified that Tresslerís hair did not match the hair of the girl she saw attempting to escape from the car. 

During questioning, Simmons acknowledged spending time with Tressler on 12/01/03, but claimed that at the end of the evening he dropped her off at the laundromat. 

The next morning, Simmons went to Tresslerís home to pick her up for the day, but she was not there. Detectives then told Simmons they had found blood stains inside his car.  At this point, Simmons admitted to committing the murder. 

The larvae collected from Tresslerís body were used to determine the time of death.  Originally, 12/01/03 was the determined date of the murder; however, further examination by an expert revealed that the larvae could not provide evidence for a conclusive date.  Further examination of Simmonsí car also indicated the blood stains were insufficient to classify it as the place where the murder took place. 

Prior Incarceration History in the State of Florida:
 

Offense Date

Offense

Sentence Date

County

Case No.

Sentence Length

11/25/94

BURG/DWELL/ OCCUP.CONVEY

08/26/96

LAKE

9401613

2Y 4M 0D

11/25/94

GRAND THEFT,300 L/5,000

08/26/96

LAKE

9401613

2Y 4M 0D

11/26/94

CARRYING CONCEALING FIREARM

08/26/96

LAKE

9401613

2Y 4M 0D

11/26/94

INTROD. DRUG, WEAPON IN CO FACIL

08/26/96

LAKE

0941613

2Y 4M 0D

06/02/96

AGGRAVATED FLEEING LEO

08/26/96

LAKE

9600901

2Y 4M 0D

06/02/96

AGG. ASSLT/LEO/FIREFGT/EMS/ETC.

08/26/96

LAKE

9600901

2Y 4M 0D

 

Prior Community Supervision History:
 

Offense Date

Offense

Sentence Date

County

Case No.

Supervision Length

11/26/94

BURG/DWELL/OCCUP. CONVEY

03/13/95

LAKE

9401613

2Y 0M 0D

11/26/94

GRAND THEFT, 300 L/5,000

03/13/95

LAKE

9401613

2Y 0M 0D

11/26/94

CARRYING CONCEALED FIREARM

03/13/95

LAKE

9401613

2Y 0M 0D

11/26/94

INTRODUCE WEAPON/ FIREARM

03/13/95

LAKE

9401613

2Y 0M 0D

 

Trial Summary:

12/28/01          Indicted as follows:

Count I: Sexual Battery
Count II: First-Degree Murder

01/13/03          Indictment Amended as follows:

Count I: Kidnapping
Count II: Sexual Battery
Count III: First-Degree Murder   

09/17/03          Jury returned guilty verdicts on all counts of the indictment.

09/19/03          Jury recommended death by a vote of 12-0.

12/11/03          Sentenced as follows:

Count I: Kidnapping Ė Life
Count II: Sexual Battery Ė Life   
Count III: First-Degree Murder Ė Death

Case Information:

On 01/07/04, Simmons filed a direct appeal with the Florida Supreme Court.  Simmons contended the verdict was not supported by evidence, motions to suppress were improperly denied, law enforcement failed to investigate the case to provide any valuable evidence and the State mischaracterized and invented new evidence.  Simmons also contended the trial court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case, there was no possible cause for his arrest and DNA evidence was improperly submitted and argued. Simmons also argued that the lower court erred in excluding the defenseís eye witness expert, the state improperly classified one of its witnesses as an expert and in-court identification of Simmonsí car was improperly permitted.  Finally, Simmons argued the prosecutorís misconduct jeopardized a fair trial and that the death penalty was improperly imposed. 

On 05/11/06, the FSC affirmed the conviction and sentence.

Simmons filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court on 12/07/06 that was denied on 02/20/07.

Floridacapitalcases.state.fl.us

 
 


Eric Simmons

 

 

 
 
 
 
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