June 4, 1977
Miami Beach, Florida
Two teens kill an elderly neighbor after she finds them burglarizing her home
The boys, Ronney Zamora (15) and Darrell Agrella (14), had entered the home of Elinor Haggart (82) to steal money. When she discovered them, they tied her up and talked with her for an hour and a half. During this time, they talked about her late husband and her children. She also asked for a glass of whiskey which Zamora brought. The boys believed they had convinced Haggart not to report the incident to police, but she stated she still planned to. Zamora used a gun he had found in Haggart’s home earlier to shoot her. The boys then stole her car along with a little over $400 in cash, then went to Disney World with some friends. Haggart’s body was found 4 days later.
At trial, Zamora’s defense attorney attempted a plea of insanity, blaming the teen’s excessive exposure (6 hours a day) to television for the murder. The attorney called television “(Zamora’s) instructor, his brain-washer, his hypnotizer.” The jury deliberated for two hours, finding Zamora guilty; he was sentenced to life in prison. His attorney, unaffected by the loss of the criminal case, attempted to bring civil suits against ABC, CBS, and NBC for their supposed roles in the murder. This was also unsuccessful.
Agrella, Zamora’s accomplice, was tried separately. I could not find any information regarding his trial, only an appeal he entered which was denied. Though he was convicted, I am unsure which charges he was found guilty of or his sentence.
Clipping: the Tallahassee Democrat (Tallahassee, FL) June 10, 1977