The Fatal Flaw According to Phillip Finch
Three policemen were first on the scene after Zeigler called the Winter Garden police chief, Don Ficke. They were Chief Ficke, Chief Robert Thompson of the Oakland police, and Winter Garden patrolman Jimmie Yawn. All three men knew Zeigler. Ficke was a friend who was supposed to go to a Christmas eve party with the Zeiglers, Thompson had been invited to the same party by Zeigler, and Yawn had been an acquaintance of Zeigler's since childhood.
Ficke and Thompson were at the party when Zeigler called Ficke and told him he had been shot and needed help. Ficke and Thompson left immediately and Thompson notified his dispatcher. Yawn was at the Winter Garden Inn (where Felton Thomas had run to escape from Zeigler, remember? INMU.) when he heard the call from Thompson. The time of the call was recorded as 9:21 PM.
Yawn raced out of the Winter Garden Inn, turned onto Dillard Street in front of the furniture store and almost broadsided the car of J.D. and Madelyn Nolan who were just driving by. They decided to stop and watch the action.
The Nolans testified that they watched the three police officers enter the store, carry out the wounded Zeigler, put him in Thompson's police car and take him to the hospital. They then went over to the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant because they saw J. D. Nolan's brother inside, apparently waiting for an order. The resturant was closed. While the Nolan's were standing outside the resturant door, a black man fitting Williams description came to the door and asked to call the police. He was admitted inside,used the store phone, and left saying he got a wrong number. He left the store and drove off with two acquaintances.
All of this occurred after Thompson called his dispatcher at 9:21. Williams testified that he had gone immediately from the Winter Garden Inn to the restuarant after he ran away from Zeigler and that the restuarant was open when he went in.
As Phillip Finch points out on page 317 of his book, if Williams is telling the truth "Zeigler was ...healthy when Williams jumped the fence .... His trip across the street, via the motel, could have consumed no more than a minute. In that time... Zeigler would have had to move Williams truck and wipe off his finger prints, bend the fork of the gate,go into the store and speak with Ted Van Deventer and Don Ficke, shoot himself, wait for the police to show up, be carried into the back of the squad car...and be driven to the hospital."
If Williams was lying, Zeigler is an innocent man on death row for thirty years.