Donna Horwitz has been con­victed twice of fatal shoot­ing in 2011.

The Palm Beach Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Jane Mus­grave Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

WEST PALM BEACH — Min­utes af­ter a Palm Beach County cir­cuit judge Thurs­day sen­tenced his 71-year-old mother to 32 years in prison for fa­tally shoot­ing his fa­ther in a jeal­ous rage, Radley Horwitz won­dered aloud whether his six-year nightmare was over.

“I hate to think that every five years we’re go­ing to be back here over and over again,” said the 43-year-old who played a cru­cial — and un­en­vi­able — role in the tri­als of his mother, Donna Horwitz. She was twice con­victed of fa­tally shoot­ing her 66-yearold ex-hus­band, Lanny, in their Jupiter home and has pledged to ap­peal once more.

To save her­self, Donna Horwitz blamed the mur­der on Radley, her only child. Dur­ing her ini­tial trial in 2013 and a sec­ond that was held in June af­ter her first con­vic­tion was thrown out by the Florida Supreme Court, Radley Horwitz tes­ti­fied against his mother.

He told both ju­ries about the may­hem that erupted be­fore dawn on Sept. 30, 2011, when he said he was jolted out of bed by his mother’s scream­ing to find his fa­ther’s naked, life­less body ly­ing in a pool of blood in a bath­room of the home the un­con­ven­tional fam­ily shared in the ex­clu­sive Ad­mi­rals Cove com­mu­nity.

“Ev­ery­one knows I didn’t do it. The gun­shot residue test proved it,” Radley, who now lives in Costa Rica, said of the un­sub­stan­ti­ated charge that has hung over him. “I sleep as good as I can un­der the cir­cum­stances.”

Both ju­ries agreed Donna Horwitz emp­tied two re­volvers into her ex-hus­band as he show­ered, get­ting ready to take a trip with an­other woman. But they didn’t agree on what prompted the mur­der.

While the first jury con­victed her of first-de­gree mur­der, find­ing that it was pre­med­i­tated, the jury in June dis­agreed. It con­victed her of sec­ond-de­gree mur­der, al­though at least one ju­ror said later he didn’t think she acted alone.

Say­ing she re­spected the jury sys­tem, Cir­cuit Judge Krista Marx said she couldn’t again sen­tence Horwitz to life in prison since the jury had found her guilty of the lesser charge. “It wouldn’t be ap­pro­pri­ate for me to ig­nore that,” she said.

Still, she said, the mur­der was in­ex­pli­ca­ble. “This was a dys­func­tional fam­ily, but there’s no ex­pla­na­tion for why you took a gun and shot him so many times in the shower,” she told Horwitz, who looked wan and frail but showed no re­ac­tion to Marx’s


Lanny Horwitz’s sis­ter, Mar­cia VanCrev­eld, pushed for a life term for the woman she calls “Prima Donna.” Radley Horwitz said the 32-year sen­tence, even with six years shaved off for the time she has al­ready spent be­hind bars, was likely tan­ta­mount to life term given his mother’s age. Fur­ther, he said, he had no choice but to ac­cept it.

“That’s just how it goes, you know,” he said. “It’s how the le­gal sys­tem works.”

Horwitz’s case ul­ti­mately es­tab­lished new rights for peo­ple ac­cused of crimes. In toss­ing out her con­vic- tion, the state’s high court ruled that prose­cu­tors vi­o­lated Horwitz’s con­sti­tu­tional right to re­main silent by tell- ing ju­rors that she re­fused to talk to Jupiter po­lice who were try­ing to de­ter­mine who killed her ex-hus­band, a lawyer she mar­ried and di­vorced twice and who dab- bled in var­i­ous busi­ness ven­tures.

Her de­fense at­tor­neys, Joseph Walsh and Grey Tesh, sought a 25-year sen­tence — the min­i­mum al­lowed by law. Psy­chol­o­gist Michael Bran­non tes­ti­fied that Horwitz is se­verely de­pressed and is a pos­si­ble sui­cide risk. Her at­tor­neys showed Marx three let­ters writ­ten by her friends, who de­scribed Hor- witz as a dot­ing daugh­ter, mother and grand­mother to Radley Horwitz’s daugh­ter.

As­sis­tant State At­tor­ney Aleathea McRoberts dis­puted that de­scrip­tion, point­ing out that Horwitz tried to pin the mur­der on her only child. “Re­mem­ber that this woman de­lib­er­ately took two fire- arms and shot this man in the shower,” she said. Then, she said, Horwitz hid one of the guns in a dresser in hopes of evad­ing de­tec­tion.

“In six years there has been two jury tri­als where the com­mu­nity has spo­ken twice that this de­fen­dant shot her hus­band in cold blood,” McRoberts said, push­ing for a life sen­tence.

Af­ter­ward, in an­swer to Radley’s fears that there could be yet a third trial, McRoberts voiced con­fi­dence that the con­vic­tion would stick.

Al­ready, Walsh and Tesh have tried to get Horwitz’s con­vic­tion thrown out due to claims by one ju­ror that an­other mem­ber of the panel vi­o­lated court rules by con­duct­ing in­de­pen­dent re­search into the case dur­ing the trial. Marx re­jected the al­le­ga­tions of jury mis­con­duct. They will likely make ad­di­tional claims in the loom- ing ap­peal.

So, Radley Horwitz said, he will wait. He said he broke off ties with his mother two years ago when she ridiculed him for seek­ing psy­cho­log­i­cal help. He doesn’t an­tic­i­pate a re­union.

“Even af­ter six years,” he said, “it’s still hard to get my head around.”


Donna Horwitz and de­fense at­tor­ney Grey Tesh stand Thurs­day in a West Palm Beach court­room as Cir­cuit Judge Krista Marx en­ters the room for Horwitz’s sen­tenc­ing.

Radley Horwitz sits in the gallery Thurs­day for the sen­tenc­ing of his mother, Donna, in the 2011 killing of his fa­ther and her ex-hus­band, Lanny. Donna Horwitz blamed the mur­der on Radley, but two ju­ries de­ter­mined Donna had shot Lanny at their Jupiter...

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