Circuit, Okaloosa County, Case #94-1283
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable
G. Robert Barron
Attorneys, Trial: Isaac Koran &
Elton Killam - Assistant Public Defenders
Attorney, Direct Appeal: David
A. Davis - Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, Collateral Appeals:
John Nall - Private
Date of Offense: 06/09/94
Date of Sentence:
Circumstances of Offense:
Edward Zakrzewski, II was convicted and sentenced to death for the
murders of his wife Sylvia and his two children, Edward and Anna.
Prior to the murders, Zakrzewski
and his wife were experiencing martial problems. Zakrzewski
reportedly commented to a neighbor that he would rather kill his family
than subject them to a divorce.
On the morning 06/09/94, Zakrzewski’s
seven-year-old son, Edward, called him at Eglin Air Force Base where he
worked for the Air Force and informed him that Sylvia was talking about
wanting a divorce.
After that conversation, Zakrzewski bought a machete
while on his lunch break. After making the purchase, he returned to
work and completed a full day. That night, Zakrzewski arrived home
ahead of the rest of his family and hid the machete in the bathroom.
After his wife and children
returned home, Zakrzewski attacked and disabled Sylvia, hitting her
twice over the head with a crowbar. He dragged her from the living room
to their bedroom, where he hit her again in the head with the crowbar.
He then strangled her with a piece of rope.
Next, Zakrzewski called his
son into the bathroom, supposedly to brush his teeth. Zakrzewski
attacked Edward with the machete he had hidden behind the door. Edward
attempted to block some of the blows as evidenced by defensive wounds on
his arms and wrists. Edward died of severe head, neck and back
Zakrzewski then called his daughter, Anna, into the bathroom
where he attacked and killed her with the machete. There is some
disparity as to whether Zakrzewski killed Anna immediately as she
entered the bathroom or he had her kneel over the bathtub, where her
brother’s body was lying, and killed her execution-style. There was
evidence of defensive wounds on Anna’s arms and hands.
dragged his wife’s body from their bedroom to the bathroom, where he
further assaulted her with the machete. Reports indicated that Sylvia
died from both blunt and sharp-force injuries.
After the murders, Zakrzewski
drove to Orlando, where he boarded a plane headed for Hawaii. In
Hawaii, Zakrzewski changed his name and took up residence with a family
who ran a religious commune. Zakrzewski turned himself in to Hawaiian
officials after the family he had been staying with saw his picture
televised on Unsolved Mysteries.
Prior to being sentenced for the murders of his wife and children,
Zakrzewski attempted an escape from custody on 08/13/95. He was
convicted and sentenced to one-and-a-half years incarceration for the
11/10/94 The defendant
was indicted on the following charges:
Count I: First-Degree
Murder (Sylvia Zakrzewski)
Count II: First-Degree Murder (Edward Zakrzewski)
Count III: First-Degree
Murder (Anna Zakrzewski)
03/19/96 The defendant
pled guilty to all counts charged in the indictment.
03/30/96 Upon advisory sentencing, the jury,
by a 7 to 5 majority, voted for the imposition of the death penalty for
the murders of Sylvia and Edward and life imprisonment for the murder of
04/19/96 The defendant
was sentenced as follows:
Count I: First-Degree Murder - Death
Count II: First-Degree
Murder - Death
Count III: First-Degree
Murder - Death
*The trial judge overrode the jury’s recommendation of life
07/01/96, Zakrzewski filed a Direct Appeal in the Florida Supreme
Court. In that appeal, he argued that the heinous, atrocious and cruel
(HAC) aggravating factor was erroneously applied to all three murders,
as it was never his intention to torture any of his victims. The
Florida Supreme Court noted that the HAC aggravating factor was
erroneously applied as to the murder of Sylvia; however, this error was
determined to be harmless in lieu of the other proven aggravating
circumstances. Zakrzewski also argued that it was error for the trial
judge to overrule the jury’s advisory sentence for the murder of Anna.
Other issues of contention included the presentation of prejudicial
photographs of the victims and the admission of testimony by the State’s
own mental health expert. The Florida Supreme Court affirmed the
convictions and sentences of death on 06/11/98.
12/07/98, Zakrzewski filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the
United States Supreme Court that was subsequently denied on 01/25/99.
01/24/01, Zakrzewski filed a 3.850 Motion in the State Circuit Court,
which was denied on 06/17/02. He filed an appeal of that decision in
the Florida Supreme Court on 08/5/02, which was denied on 11/13/03.
Zakrzewski filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus to the United
States District Court, Northern District on 02/23/04. Zakrzewski raised
claims that his Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments were violated.
He also claimed that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. He
argued that his attorney failed to object to inappropriate comments made
during the prosecutor’s closing argument and also failed to suppress
evidence discovered in his house during a warrantless search. The court
did not find sufficient merit in Zakrzewski’s claims and therefore
denied his petition on 09/30/04.
10/28/04, Zakrzewski filed a Habeas Appeal to the United States Court of
Appeals, 11th Circuit. The court affirmed the denial of
Zakrzewski’s Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus on 07/13/06.