Surveillance Tape Released in Murder Case

Some shocking surveillance video was released in a Tallahassee murder case, video that appears to show a man loading a body into a car in broad daylight. It’s the tape the defense didn't want you to see, a tape that took us nine months and a court order to get.

Surveillance cameras at a Tallahassee apartment complex captured it all on tape at 9:30 in the morning, June 17, 2005. You can clearly see a man carrying a blue bundle in his arms and laying it down next to the car.

Police say the man is Dwight Smith and the bundle is the body of his roommate, 20-year-old Willie Davis. A protective order kept this video tape under wraps for months.

Police say it shows Smith opening the Isuzu Rodeo's back hatch, loading Davis' body into the back and closing the door. That body would float to the surface of a southside holding pond a week later.

Former prosecutor and FSU law professor Chuck Ehrhardt stopped short of calling surveillance tapes like this "smoking guns," but says they can sure be powerful witnesses.

Chuck Ehrhardt, FSU law professor, said, "Obviously, if you have a record, a taped record of what happened, it is very persuasive with a jury. The absence of a tape obviously doesn't mean the prosecution is going to lose, but the prosecution would much rather have a tape."

Perhaps the most shocking elements on tape is that this happened in broad daylight at about 9:30 in the morning. An unoccupied Tallahassee police car belonging to a neighbor is parked just a few yards away and folks driving by are completely unaware that the blue bundle on the ground was the body of Willie Davis.

Smith's attorneys argued that releasing this tape could make it difficult to find impartial jurors in his upcoming trial. Right now that is slated for September 18. None of the attorneys, defense or prosecution, would comment on the tape's release.


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