Donald William Dufour


Donald William Dufour

Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Robberies
Number of victims: 5 +
Date of murders: July-October 1982
Date of arrest: October 14, 1982
Date of birth: March 22, 1956
Victims profile: Edward Wise, 47, and his live-in lover, John Stinson, 44 / Zack Miller / Danny King, 32, and Earl Peeples, 34 (gay men)
Method of murder: Shooting / Stabbing with knife
Location: Mississippi/Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to death in Mississippi in March 1983. Sentenced to death in Florida on July 3, 1983

A postman's working days in middle-class Orlando, Florida, are normally as uneventful as a man could hope for.

There is seldom any major deviation from routine. A snapping dog, perhaps, but nothing that a can of Mace won't cure. Except, that is, for murder.

On the afternoon of July 15, 1982, the postman working Henry Balch Drive noted that deliveries of mail at Edward Wise's home had not been taken in for several days. The circumstance was curious, but not disturbing. Not until the carrier became aware of rancid odors emanating from the house itself. Police were summoned, and they forced the door. Inside, patrolmen found Ed Wise, age 47, and his live-in lover, 44-year-old John Stinson, shot and stabbed to death.

The medical examiner declared they had been dead at least a week, perhaps ten days. Though gay, the men had not been known as "cruisers," and police did not initially suspect them of inviting home "rough trade." September 6. A young man riding his motorcycle through an Orlando citrus grove was startled to discover a corpse, partially covered by an orange blanket, Iying beside the dirt road.

The victim, a male, had been shot twice -- in the head and back -- with a .25-caliber pistol. A gasoline receipt, recovered from his pocket, identified him as Zack Miller, of Boston, Georgia, reported missing by his family two days earlier. Discovery of Miller's car, September 7, gave detectives in Orlando hope the killer might still be within their jurisdiction.

On October 10, three gunmen tried to rob a local fast food restaurant, and one of them was captured near the scene. The clumsy stick-up artist named the "brains" behind the job as Don Dufowr, a cocky thief who boasted of a recent murder in an orange grove, with the victim robbed of jewelry. In fact, the would-be robber told detectives, Don had bragged of killing something like a dozen people, altogether. Homicide investigators searching for Dufour were startled by the news of his arrest, in Jackson, Mississippi, four days after the attempted robbery.

He had been charged with double murder in the stabbing deaths of Danny King, age 32, and 34-year-old Earl Peeples. Both men had been slain in the apartment occupied by Peeples and, again, there were persuasive indications that the victims might be gay. Forensic evidence proved more persuasive to a Jackson jury than the suspect's feeble plea of innocence.

Convicted of the Peeples homicide on March 31, 1983, Dufour was sentenced to die in Mississippi's electric chair. Unmoved by published interviews suggesting that their prisoner was "scared to death of electricity," prosecutors expressed their intention to try him again, for Danny King's murder. Meanwhile, in Florida, first-degree murder indictments were returned against Dufour in January 1983, on Wise and Stinson, and in September, for the Miller homicide.

Michael Newton - An Encyclopedia of Modern Serial Killers - Hunting Humans

DUFOUR, Donald (W/M)

DC# 061222
DOB: 03/22/56

Ninth Judicial Circuit, Orange County Case # 82-5467
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Michael F. Cycmanick
Attorney, Trial: Jay P. Cohen – Private
Attorney, Direct Appeal: Brynn Newton – Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, Collateral Appeals: Mark Gruber – CCRC-M

Date of Offense: 09/04/82

Date of Sentence: 07/03/84

Circumstances of Offense:

Donald Dufour’s former girlfriend, Stacey Sigler, testified that on the evening of 09/04/82, Dufour told her that he planned to find a homosexual man, and then rob and kill him. Dufour requested that Sigler drop him off at a bar and await his call. About one hour later, he called Sigler to have her pick him up at his brother’s house. When she arrived, Dufour was searching the trunk of a car that Sigler did not recognize and was wearing new jewelry – both the car and jewelry belonged to the victim, later determined to be Zack Miller.

An associate of Dufour, Robert Taylor, testified that Dufour told him that he (Dufour) had used a .25 caliber pistol to shoot Zack Miller in an orange grove and then take his car. Taylor purchased a piece of the stolen jewelry from Dufour and helped him disassemble the pistol and discard the pieces in a junkyard.

Another associate of Dufour, Raymond Ryan, testified that Dufour told him of the killing and admitted to stealing the jewelry. Ryan also saw Dufour and Taylor disassemble the pistol.

A prison acquaintance of Dufour, Henry Miller, testified that Dufour also told him the details of the murder.

Zack Miller was found in an orange grove, with two gunshot wounds to his back and head.

Trial Summary:

01/20/83 Information presented by the State, charging one count of First-Degree Murder

05/31/84 Jury returned a guilty verdic

05/31/84 Jury recommended a death sentence by a vote of 12-0

07/03/84 Sentenced to death

Additional Information:

On 03/06/86, Dufour pled no contest and was sentenced to Life Imprisonment for the First-Degree Murder of Edward Wise (Case# 83-319), committed on 07/04/82. In return for the plea, the State agreed to drop another murder charge against Dufour for the murder of John Stinson, who was killed at the same time as Wise.

Dufour was convicted and sentenced to death for the 10/14/82 murder of Earl Peeples in Mississippi. Robert Taylor, who testified against Dufour as to the murder of the Florida man, was a codefendant of Dufour and was convicted and sentenced to death for another murder committed at the same time as Dufour’s murder of Peeples.

Case Information:

Dufour filed a Direct Appeal with the Florida Supreme Court on 08/06/84, citing the following errors: denial of motion to suppress evidence; admission of evidence from Miller that violated his 6th Amendment right to counsel; denial of several motions for mistrial (inappropriate prosecutorial evidence during opening statements); inappropriately limiting the cross-examination of Taylor; allowing a witness to read into evidence a statement made by Taylor; failure to issue a mistrial for prosecutorial comments during closing arguments that drew attention to Dufour’s failure to take the stand during the trial; conducting pretrial motion hearings in Dufour’s absence; denial of Dufour’s motions for continuance; declining to impose sanctions for prosecutorial misconduct regarding discovery; forcing Dufour to wear leg shackles during trial led to jury prejudice; denial of Dufour’s motion for mistrial due to failure to dismiss a juror that had received a “strange” phone call; denial of proposed special jury instructions during the penalty phase of trial; admission of evidence of another murder in Mississippi; denial of a motion to strike death as a possible penalty due to failure to list all aggravating circumstances that might apply in the case; failure to establish two aggravating circumstances (avoiding a lawful arrest and cold, calculated, and premeditated murder); and unconstitutionality of Florida’s death penalty statute.

The FSC affirmed the conviction and sentence on 09/04/86.

Dufour filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court on 12/27/86 that was denied on 02/23/87.

Dufour filed a 3.850 Motion with the Circuit Court on 09/21/92 and amended the Motion on 10/16/01. On 05/30/03, the Circuit Court denied the Motion.

Dufour filed a 3.850 Motion Appeal with the Florida Supreme Court on 07/30/03, primarily citing allegations of ineffective assistance of counsel. On 04/14/05, the FSC affirmed the denial of the Motion.

Dufour filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus with the Florida Supreme Court on 02/19/04, citing allegations of ineffective assistance of counsel. On 04/14/05, the FSC denied the Petition.

Dufour filed a 3.203 Motion with the Circuit Court on 11/24/04 and amended the motion on 8/9/05. The motion is pending.

479 U.S. 891

107 S.Ct. 292
93 L.Ed.2d 266

Donald William DUFOUR

No. 85-6889

Supreme Court of the United States

October 14, 1986

On petition for writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of Mississippi.

The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied.

Justice BRENNAN, dissenting.

Adhering to my view that the death penalty is in all circumstances cruel and unusual punishment prohibited by the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153, 227, 96 S.Ct. 2909, 2950, 49 L.Ed.2d 859 (1976), I would grant certiorari and vacate the death sentence in this case.

Justice MARSHALL, dissenting from denial of certiorari.

Adhering to my view that the death penalty is under all circumstances cruel and unusual punishment forbidden by the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, I would vacate the judgment of the Supreme Court of Mississippi insofar as it left undisturbed the death sentence imposed in this case. Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153, 231, 96 S.Ct. 2909, 2973, 49 L.Ed.2d 859 (1976) (MARSHALL, J., dissenting). However, even if I believed that the death penalty could be imposed constitutionally under certain circumstances, I nevertheless would grant certiorari because this petition presents an important issue concerning the application of this Court's decision in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d 674 (1984).

Petitioner Donald Dufour was convicted of capital murder occurring in the course of a robbery. His appointed counsel presented no evidence in mitigation of sentence at the penalty phase of his trial. The jury found that the State had established two aggravating circumstances and recommended a sentence of death. The State Supreme Court affirmed petitioner's conviction and death sentence. Dufour v. State, 453 So.2d 337 (Miss.1984). This Court denied certiorari. Dufour v. Mississippi, --- U.S. ----, 105 S.Ct. 1231, 84 L.Ed.2d 172 (1985). Petitioner then instituted a post-conviction proceeding to vacate judgment and sentence in the State trial court, contending that he had received ineffective assistance of counsel in that his appointed trial counsel had failed to request appointment of a psychiatrist to assist the defense in developing psychological evidence to be submitted to the jury in mitigation of sentence. The trial court summarily denied this and petitioner's other claims, and the State Supreme Court affirmed. Dufour v. State, 483 So.2d 307 (Miss.1985).

It appears that in his post-conviction application, petitioner again requested appointment of a psychiatrist to assist counsel in showing that petitioner's defense at the penalty phase of his trial was prejudiced by the absence of psychological evidence. He submitted the affidavit of Dr. Stanley, the court-appointed psychiatrist who had previously examined him for the purpose of determining his competency to stand trial. Dr. Stanley stated that the limited examination he had conducted for purposes of determining competency bore no relation to the more extensive and qualitatively different investigation required to present useful assistance to trial counsel on the subject of mitigation. Pet. for Cert. 7. Both the trial court and State Supreme Court denied relief without ruling on petitioner's renewed request for the appointment of a psychiatrist; no evidentiary hearing was held on petitioner's claim of ineffective assistance. The State Supreme Court affirmed the denial of relief, stating that:

"Petitioner claims that defense counsel failed to make application to the trial court for funds to conduct a psychological evaluation of petitioner for the purpose of determining whether mitigating circumstances existed. Further, that he had no expert assistance because counsel did not request it. However, petitioner was examined pursuant to a court order. The professionals were not people selected by the State, but by the trial court. Petitioner has failed to present facts which show there existed mitigating circumstances of a psychological nature, which could have been presented by Dr. Stanley. It is not shown that such an examination would have produced the claimed results, nor has prejudice been shown." Dufour v. State, supra, at 308.


In Strickland, supra, this Court established a two-part standard for evaluating claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. "First, the defendant must show that counsel's performance was deficient. This requires showing that counsel made errors so serious that counsel was not functioning as the 'counsel' guaranteed the defendant by the Sixth Amendment. Second, the defendant must show that the deficient performance prejudiced the defense. This requires showing that counsel's errors were so serious as to deprive the defendant of a fair trial, a trial whose result is reliable." 466 U.S., at 687, 104 S.Ct., at 2064. For the reasons I then stated in dissent, I continue to believe that "a showing that the performance of a defendant's lawyer departed from constitutionally prescribed standards requires a new trial regardless of whether the defendant suffered demonstrable prejudice thereby." Id., at 712, 104 S.Ct., at 2073 (MARSHALL, J., dissenting). The present case provides a graphic demonstration of the untenable nature of the prejudice standard announced in Strickland.

The State Supreme Court, in affirming the denial of post-conviction relief on this claim, relied entirely upon the prejudice portion of the Strickland standard. Dufour v. State, supra, at 308. Petitioner's claim was denied because he did not proffer the psychiatric evidence which he contended should have been introduced at trial. He did not do so precisely because, as an indigent, he could not afford to retain a psychiatrist to make an examination either in preparation for trial or upon his application for post-conviction relief. In short, the prejudice standard in such a circumstance is insurmountable; prejudice cannot be shown because the alleged error of counsel was in failing to seek the appointment of an expert without whose assistance the evidence which would show prejudice cannot be brought to light. On a claim of this kind petitioner cannot submit affidavits of witnesses who were not investigated or who were not called, or in some other manner raise an inference as to prejudice. The essence of psychiatric evidence rests in the expert qualifications of the objective examiner; if the examiner will not volunteer his services, petitioner must content himself with only so much justice as he can pay for.

In Ake v. Oklahoma, 470 U.S. 68, 105 S.Ct. 1087, 84 L.Ed.2d 53 (1985), this Court recognized that under some circumstances "the assistance of a psychiatrist may well be crucial to the defendant's ability to marshal his defense," and that in these conditions the accused is entitled to the appointment of psychiatric assistance at public expense. That the failure to seek such appointment to assist counsel in the development of evidence in mitigation of sentence may in some cases rise to the level of constitutionally ineffective assistance I do not doubt.1 "[C]ounsel's general duty to investigate . . . takes on supreme importance to a defendant in the context of developing mitigating evidence to present to a judge or jury considering the sentence of death; claims of ineffective assistance in the performance of that duty should therefore be considered with commensurate care." Strickland, supra, 466 U.S., at 706, 104 S.Ct., at 2073 (BRENNAN, J., concurring in part and dissenting in part).2 The prejudice prong of Strickland, supra, as it was applied below, will have the effect of depriving all such defendants of their constitutional rights solely as a result of their indigence. Because I believe that such application of the Strickland standard is incompatible with the requirements of the Constitution, I would grant the petition for certiorari.


I would not reach the question of whether counsel's failure in this case to move for the appointment of a psychiatrist was constitutionally deficient representation under the first part of the test established by Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d 674 (1984). The correctness of the State Supreme Court's determination on the question of prejudice is the sole issue posed by the petition.


I note that petitioner's trial counsel failed to present any evidence at all in mitigation of sentence. As I have previously stated, I believe that in all but the most extraordinary cases, such failure is, without more, a denial of effective assistance of counsel. See Berry v. King, --- U.S. ----, 106 S.Ct. 2290, 90 L.Ed.2d 731 (1986) (MARSHALL, J., dissenting from denial of certiorari).