Robber guilty in shooting of woman
By WILLIAM R. LEVESQUE, Times Staff Writer
LARGO -- Lee Anthony Hall wrote a letter to the woman police say he nearly killed in an armed robbery at her home. In it, Hall said he had no choice but to shoot her.
"If I didn't shoot you," his letter explained, "I know you would've called the police and have sent me to prison for 30 years."
The woman did call police after the shooting, undoubtedly saving her own life. And now Hall is going to prison, possibly for far longer than the 30 years he feared.
A Pinellas jury deliberated for just over four hours on Thursday before convicting Hall of attempted second-degree murder, armed robbery and armed burglary for the April 10, 2000, shooting of Kimberly Palmore.
Hall, 24, held his hands clasped behind his back and displayed no emotion as the verdict was read by a court clerk, concluding a four-day trial.
Each of the three charges is punishable by 25 years to life in prison. When he is sentenced, probably within the next month, Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Richard Luce can sentence Hall to a maximum of three consecutive life terms.
Palmore, 49, who was shot in the head, neck and hand by Hall and left deaf in one ear and her face partly paralyzed, said afterward, "I'm just relieved it's over. That's the only comment I have."
Jurors, who declined to comment after the verdict, rejected a charge of attempted first-degree murder and instead found Hall guilty of a lesser charge, attempted second-degree murder.
But state law calls for a minimum sentence of 25 years to life on felonies involving the discharge of a firearm that causes serious harm. So in reality, the conviction on the lesser charge doesn't change the potential sentence Hall faces.
Palmore, who was the director of the Wellness Center at Morton Plant Mease in Clearwater before the shooting, was getting ready for work about 7:30 a.m. at her High Point home when her two dogs began barking in the back yard.
When she went outside, a man dressed in dark clothes, gloves and a mask accosted her with a handgun, demanding her purse and cash. The man led her into the house at gunpoint.
Finding just $40 or so in the purse, the man demanded that Palmore give him her ATM code. Palmore didn't even have an ATM card. She testified that he told her he would count to three before shooting and killing her unless she gave him the ATM code.
Palmore said he didn't wait to count before shooting her as she lay face down on the floor. Palmore was barely conscious as she crawled to a phone and called 911.
Sheriff's investigators had no suspect in the shooting until two months later when a letter arrived in Palmore's mailbox. In it, investigators said, her attacker apologized in a taunting fashion for the shooting.
"You should understand that I have a conscience," the letter said. "Plus a real criminal don't write their victims."
Though the letter was not signed, investigators were able to lift two fingerprints that matched Hall, who has a previous record for lewd and lascivious behavior and auto theft. DNA from where he licked the envelope also matched Hall.
Hall had been told the day before the shooting that he was going back to jail unless he came up with $1,600 in court financial obligations owed from his previous auto theft case, prosecutors say.
Hall's attorney, John Trevena, admitted to jurors that Hall mailed the letter. But he said the letter was a hoax. Hall, the lawyer said, simply was toying with police because he was angry at them over his previous criminal cases.
Trevena said prosecutors had little evidence other than the letter that Hall shot Palmore. And he said witness statements were inconsistent.
Indeed, the bedrock of the prosecutor's case was the letter in which Hall admitted to the shooting.
"He put it in writing," prosecutor Glenn Martin told jurors in his closing argument. "We know exactly what was in his mind. He wrote it down for us."
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