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George James TREPAL

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Poisoner
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: October 15, 1988
Date of arrest: April 1989
Date of birth: January 23, 1949
Victim profile: Peggy Carr (neighbor)
Method of murder: Poisoning (thallium)
Location: Polk County, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on March 6, 1991
 
 

 

Supreme Court of Florida

 

opinion 77667

opinion SC89710

 
 

 
 

DC#  121965
DOB:  01/23/49

10th Judicial Circuit, Polk County, Case #90-1569
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Dennis P. Maloney
Attorney, Trial: Jonathan Stidham – Private
Attorney, Direct Appeal: Ronald T. Toward – Private
Attorney, Collateral Appeals:  Todd Scher – CCRC-S

Date of Offense: 10/15/88

Date of Sentence: 03/06/91

Circumstances of Offense:

George Trepal was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Peggy Carr. 

George Trepal and his wife moved into their home in Alturas, Florida during the early 1980s. 

Parealyn and Peggy Carr married in 1988, and Peggy Carr moved into the Parealyn’s home, which was located next to Trepal’s home.  Travis Carr, Parealyn’s son, and Duane Dubberly, Peggy’s son, also resided at the Alturas residence. 

In 1988, Parealyn Carr renovated their garage into an apartment, where his daughters, Delena Shiver and Tammy Reed, and his granddaughter, Kasey Bell, resided.  Trepal and the Carrs were involved in a number of altercations, including one incident in which Trepal threatened to kill one of the Carr children.  The Carrs also received an unsigned letter threatening harm to their family if they did not leave Florida. 

In October of 1988, Peggy Carr began to suffer from a mysterious illness.  She was admitted to the hospital and remained there for several days before being discharged.  After discharge, Peggy’s condition worsened, and she was readmitted to the hospital.  Travis Carr and Duane Dubberly also exhibited similar symptoms and were transported to the hospital. 

Dr. Hostler suspected thallium poisoning based on the symptoms displayed.  Within one day, thallium poisoning was confirmed.  Peggy Carr’s condition worsened, and she fell into a coma.  She died when life support was disconnected in March of 1988. 

Travis Carr and Duane Dubberly remained in the hospital for treatment of thallium poisoning.  Further testing revealed the presence of thallium in other family members, including Gelena Shiver, Kasey Bell and Parealyn Carr.

In November of 1989, officials collected samples from the Carr household in an attempt to determine the origin of the thallium.  Tiller tested the residue in several empty Coca-Cola bottles retrieved during the collection of samples.  Thallium was detected in the Coca-Cola bottles.  The lot numbers of the cola bottles allowed police to trace when and where the bottles were produced. 

Officials determined that it was impossible for eight bottles containing thallium to end up being packaged together.  Coca-Cola officials claimed that they had not received any other reports of poisoning or threats related to tampering with their product.

In June of 1988, the Carrs received a letter threatening that they would all die if they did not leave Florida immediately.  The letter was unsigned. 

The prosecution linked Trepal to the threatening letter that the Carrs had received because of comments he made during a police interview.  When officials inquired into why Trepal thought someone would poison the Carrs, he told them to get them to move out. 

Trepal claimed to accompany his wife to the office every day.  However, the police determined that he either stayed at home or went to his own office each day.  Thus, Trepal had the opportunity to enter the Carrs’ residence because they did not always lock their doors upon leaving the residence. 

Also, Trepal had worked as a chemist in an amphetamine laboratory.  Thallium was a by-product of amphetamine production.  In 1975, Trepal was convicted of Conspiracy to Manufacture Methamphetamine. 

In order to further investigate Trepal, Special Agent Susan Goreck went undercover.  She attended a “Mensa Murder Weekend” that Trepal’s wife organized under the name of Sherry Guinn.  Trepal wrote a pamphlet for the weekend that described writing a threatening note and then poisoning the recipient of the note. 

During this weekend, Goreck had contact with Trepal and learned that he was selling his Alturas residence and was moving to Sebring, Florida or to Virginia.  Goreck arranged to rent Trepal’s home after he and his wife moved.  After paying the rent in money orders, Goreck and a search team went to the home. 

In the garage, the investigators found a bottle containing powdered thallium.  After the discovery of thallium, Trepal was charged with seven counts of poisoning.  A subsequent search of Trepal’s Sebring home in April of 1989 turned up chemistry books and equipment, including information about poisons. 

Officials also found the Agatha Christie novel Pale Horse, which described using thallium to poison people in a household.  Finally, the police found a bottle-capping machine that could be used to replace the bottle caps of Coca-Cola bottles after the cap was removed to introduce the poison into the drink.

*****

Trial Summary:

04/05/90          Trepal was indicted on the following counts:

Count I: First-Degree Murder (Peggy Carr)
Count II: Attempted First-Degree Murder (Arlie Duane Dubberly)
Count III: Attempted First-Degree Murder (Parealyn Travis Carr)
Count IV: Attempted First-Degree Murder (Parealyn Carr)
Count V: Attempted First-Degree Murder (Kasey Bell)
Count VI: Attempted First-Degree Murder (Gelena Bell)
Count VII: Attempted First-Degree Murder (Tammy Carr)
Count VIII: Poisoning Food or Water (Peggy Carr)
Count IX: Poisoning Food or Water (Arlie Duane Dubberly
Count X: Poisoning Food or Water (Parealyn Travis Carr)
Count XI: Poisoning Food or Water (Parealyn Carr)
Count XII: Poisoning Food or Water (Kasey Bell)
Count XIII: Poisoning Food or Water (Gelena Bell
Count XIV: Poisoning Food or Water (Tammy Carr)
Count XV: Tampering with a Consumer Product

02/05/91          Trepal was found guilty on each count of the indictment.

02/07/91          Upon advisory sentencing, the jury, by a 9 to 3 majority, voted for the death penalty.

03/06/91          Trepal was sentenced as follows:

Count I: First-Degree Murder (Peggy Carr) – Death
Count II: Attempted First-Degree Murder (Arlie Duane Dubberly) – 30 years
Count III: Attempted First-Degree Murder (Parealyn Travis Carr) – 30 years
Count IV: Attempted First-Degree Murder (Parealyn Carr) – 30 years
Count V: Attempted First-Degree Murder (Kasey Bell) – 30 years
Count VI: Attempted First-Degree Murder (Gelena Bell) – 30 years
Count VII: Attempted First-Degree Murder (Tammy Carr) – 30 years
Count VIII: Poisoning Food or Water (Peggy Carr) – 30 years
Count IX: Poisoning Food or Water (Arlie Duane Dubberly) – 30 years
Count X: Poisoning Food or Water (Parealyn Travis Carr) – 30 years
Count XI: Poisoning Food or Water (Parealyn Carr) – 30 years
Count XII: Poisoning Food or Water (Kasey Bell) – 30 years
Count XIII: Poisoning Food or Water (Gelena Bell) – 30 years
Count XIV: Poisoning Food or Water (Tammy Carr) – 30 years
Count XV: Tampering with a Consumer Product – 30 years

*****

Case Information:

Trepal filed his Direct Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court on 04/02/91.  The issues addressed included that the trial court wrongly admitted evidence, that defense counsel was ineffective, that the evidence was insufficient for a First-Degree Murder conviction and that the death penalty was not appropriate. 

The Florida Supreme Court did not find errors that warranted reversing the conviction or sentence and affirmed the conviction and sentence on 06/10/93.  Rehearing was denied on 08/23/93.  A mandate was issued on 09/22/93.

On 11/22/93, Trepal filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court.  The petition was denied on 01/18/94.

Trepal filed a 3.850 Motion in the Circuit Court on 06/16/95.  The motion was denied on 11/06/96. 

On 01/15/97, Trepal filed a 3.850 Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court.  The issues addressed included that there was not adversarial testing during the guilt or penalty phase by the defense, his attorney had conflicts of interest, and that juror misconduct occurred. 

The case was remanded to the trial court for an evidentiary hearing, which was held on 02/11/99.  The evidentiary hearing was reconvened on 07/06/00.  The Florida Supreme Court affirmed the appeal on 03/06/03.  Rehearing was denied on 05/15/03. A mandate was issued on 06/16/03.

Trepal filed a 3.850 Motion in the Circuit Court on 10/10/97.  The motion was denied on 11/17/98.

On 10/15/01, Trepal filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in the Florida Supreme Court.  The issues addressed included that the trial court erred in allowing testimony based on hearsay.  Trepal furthered argued that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. The petition was denied on 03/06/03.  The rehearing was denied on 05/15/03. A mandate was issued on 06/16/03.

Trepal filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in the Florida Supreme Court on 06/23/03.  The petition was denied on 11/14/03.  The rehearing was denied on 05/04/04.

Trepal filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court on 08/13/03.  The petition was denied 10/14/03.

On 10/20/04, Trepal filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in the Florida Supreme Court.  On 12/06/04, the petition was denied. 

On 08/17/05, Trepal filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in the United States District Court, Middle District.  The appeal is currently pending.

FloridaCapitalCases.state.fl.us



George James Trepal

 

 

 
 
 
 
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