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Man convicted again in 1995 murder plot

By Times staff writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 24, 2000

TAMPA -- Walter Ruiz is headed back to prison, and perhaps death row, after a jury found him guilty of first-degree murder in the 1995 murder-for-hire plot that left Rolando Landrian dead.

Ruiz was convicted of the same murder, armed robbery and kidnapping charges four years ago and sentenced to die. But last year, the Florida Supreme Court granted Ruiz a new trial on the grounds prosecutors had been guilty of "egregious and inexcusable prosecutorial misconduct."

A 12-member jury will now decide whether to recommend Ruiz be sent back to death row or get life in prison. The judge will make the final decision.

Ruiz, 41, was one of four people charged in the murder of Landrian in April 1995. Lotia Romanes and her husband, Delio, were convicted of hiring Ruiz to kill Landrian, who was Mrs. Romanes' former common-law husband.

Ruiz claimed at both trials that he was shopping with his mother in Orlando at the time of the shooting.

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