Free Lionel Tate

New evidence in the notorious bad boy's latest crime

During an October 11, 2005 sworn deposition, Thompkins claimed Tate wasn't there. When the pizza man entered the apartment, Corouthers was standing by the front door with a gun tucked under his waistband. "I saw him take it out," Thompkins stated. "And that's when I ran in [my mom's] room, and that's when I heard a scream." Asked by Tate's defense attorney why he didn't identify Corouthers from the beginning, Thompkins replied, "Because I was scared, and he said he was going to kill me."

Then there's the story told by Zawalski Edwards, a convicted felon who called Tate's defense team from jail. The two private eyes say Edwards was in Corouthers's apartment the night of the robbery; he claimed he saw Corouthers wearing the maroon shorts and then putting them "on top of the cabinet ... where the cops found it," Carrillo says.

Edwards has nothing to gain by implicating Corouthers, Whiting adds. "We are not law enforcement, so it's not like we can offer him anything," he says. "There was absolutely no benefit for him."

Lionel Tate and his attorney, Ellis Rubin, in 2006
Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel/KRT
Lionel Tate and his attorney, Ellis Rubin, in 2006

And this past February 9, a forensic case report by Virginia-based Bode Technology Group turned up significant traces of Corouthers's DNA on the black bandanna police say was used in the armed robbery.

Based on the new DNA evidence, Judge Lazarus agreed to delay the trial, which had been set for April. The next hearing will be held in September.

It's time for prosecutors to drop the case against Tate, the private eyes say. They have told Assistant Broward State Attorney Charles Morton about the exculpatory evidence, but "he doesn't want to hear anything that would exonerate Lionel."

Morton didn't return calls seeking comment. But Broward Sheriff's spokesman Elliot Cohen dismisses the private eyes' charges. "I'd expect nothing less from two people who are working for the person they are trying to exonerate," Cohen says. "The court record is extensive and pretty clear."

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