Fla. supreme court overturns man's death sentence

Published: Friday, January 30, 2009 at 10:44 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 30, 2009 at 10:44 p.m.

BARTOW, Fla. The Florida Supreme Court on Friday overturned the conviction and sentence of a former male model accused of fatally stabbing a friend and office worker in 2003.

In an 80-page opinion, the court said a taped confession from Thomas Rigterink could not be included in his retrial.

Rigterink received two death sentences in 2005 for the slayings of Allison Sousa, 23, and Jeremy Jarvis, 24 after a jury convicted him of two counts of first-degree murder.

Rigterink originally confessed, but told jurors he cracked after hours of aggressive interrogation and wasn't guilty.

"Despite the fact that there is circumstantial evidence demonstrating that he committed these murders, we cannot say that the erroneously admitted videotape did not 'contribute to' his convictions," the court said in the ruling.

Prosecutors said Rigterink wanted to steal Jarvis' marijuana because he was broke. Jarvis put up a fight and ended up being stabbed, they said. Sousa was killed when she tried to help.

Chip Thullbery, a spokesman with the State Attorney's Office in Bartow, told The Ledger they did intend to put Rigterink on trial again.

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