In a bizarre case out of PInellas County, a Defendant is insisting on the death penalty. At the time of the crime, I was still working at the State Attorney’s Office in Pinellas, and this case clearly made some major waves.
Immediately after his advisory hearing, the Defendant went to his girlfriend’s house and murdered her. Our office had a large meeting about the circumstances surrounding the case and it was heavily talked about in the hallways.
Years later, this case is finally coming to fruition.
CLEARWATER — Craig Wall is insisting on his own execution but he isn’t making the penalty phase easy on the court.
Wall, 39, entered a no contest plea earlier this month in the 2010 deaths of his then-girlfriend Laura Taft and their infant son, Craig Wall, Jr. Wall has primarily been representing himself and is seeking the death penalty.
In court Monday, Wall said he wants to “captain his own ship” by putting on his own defense because he will be sitting in “Old Sparky” by himself, referring to the electric chair. Florida once used that method of execution but switched to lethal injection.
A representative from the Florida Capital Resource Center, a group that aims to provide aid to defendants facing the death penalty, filed a motion to delay proceedings so special counsel can be appointed to prepare mitigating factors in Wall’s case.
Wall dismissed the offer of help. He accused the representative and others who involve themselves in his case as being “foaming at the mouth, rabid-dog liberals” who have attempted to hijack the court and don’t think he can make his own decisions.
“This is my case. This is my life,” Wall said. “All choices are mine alone to make.”
Wall was arrested Feb. 14, 2010, for violating a domestic violence injunction filed by Taft. The arrest affidavit requested Wall be held without bail because he was a suspect in the death of the couple’s son. Instead, Wall was granted $1,000 bond and released. Three days later, authorities say, he stabbed Taft to death.
The infant had died as a result of aggravated child abuse while in Wall’s care, Assistant State Attorney Kendall Davidson said.
Taft’s death was cold, calculated and premeditated, and a stab wound through her heart means she would have been fully aware of her impending death at the time, Davidson said in court Monday.
Wall chose to use a knife in Taft’s killing because it was personal, Davidson said.
Members of Taft’s family were in the audience Monday, buttons pinned to their chests displaying a photo of Laura Taft and her son.
While Wall said repeatedly that he wants and deserves the death penalty, he questioned the truthfulness of several witnesses.
Circuit Judge Philip Federico forced Wall to drop his line of questioning with a state witness who spent some time with Wall after his arrest. Wall asked the man if he liked to tell lies, called him a criminal and said the man’s son was a heavy drug user.
“I’m not going to have that, I’m not doing it,” Federico said before dismissing the witness.
Federico told Wall he had been getting away with behavior that would not be tolerated by a lawyer, such as offering testimony while questioning witnesses, telling them their version of events were untrue, and interrupting prosecutors and witnesses out of turn.
The penalty phase of the proceedings is scheduled to resume Tuesday morning.
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