Thomas Lafoe Hearing November 2, 2011 Update

There’s something totally different about attending a court hearing in person as opposed to watching it on television. Take today, for example. We barely made it to the courthouse on time and I left my purse in the car to get through security only to find that the escalator was down. Using a combination of elevator and stairs, I made it in time even beating Judge Ley into the courtroom while SB was parking the car.

The courtroom was unusually crowded and the front row was full. I had to sit in the very back row next to a defendant and his wife. For some unknown reason, Judge Ley didn’t appear in the courtoom until 8:35 am.

Once the new defense attorney and the prosecutor got started, the people in front of me were talking and the lady across the aisle was having a conference with her attorney crouched next to her. All of this was going on at my ear level so I stood up so I could hear. I’m sure the bailiff thought I was nuts, perhaps even threatening. But I got what I came for.

The defendant was not there, having refused to exercise his constitutional right to be present. Judge Ley stated that she wants him to appear at next hearing. Mr White, the new attorney, stated he hadn’t met his client yet but had plans to so later today. Lafoe is aware that he has a new attorney, according to what White told the judge.

Mr White has a reputation of being expedient and has done two readings of the case file, the second being more in-depth. He was unable to read the handwritten notes and is in contact with Lafoe’s previous attorney to decipher them. Most of the depositions have been done but some have not. Others have been conducted but not transcribed. He’s working on getting them all done.

The next hearing is scheduled for December 14, 2011 but Judge Ley advised both attorneys that she will reschedule if they find it necessary to do so. She also reiterated her policy of having hearings for first degree murder at 8:30 am sharp.

Today’s hearing was short but concise with an air of professionalism. The defense attorney and the prosecutor have a good working relationship and have worked together many times before.

As usual, the prosecutor met with those gathered for the hearing in the hallway afterwards. Also present was Jeanette, the Victim’s Advocate.

There is a good possibility that  a trial date will be set at the next hearing. Judge Ley has a backlog of cases so it wouldn’t be any earlier than May or June of 2012.

At what point do criminals have more rights than victims?

Does anyone know? Because I sure don’t anymore.

My friend is dead. His lawnmower guy, the murderer, is enjoying life in the Pinellas County Jail and putting on weight. He gets a new lawyer so the whole trial process is starting all over again. Who’s being punished here? Yes I believe in the Bill of Rights but maybe we need to add the Bill of Rights for Victims too.

After all, we’ve been sentenced to a life-changing future influenced by this crime. Christmas, Thanksgiving and Birthdays will be forever changed in our life’s view. Relatives and friends are suffering due to this  #*$%#!’s action. We no longer live is the cozy world of friends. Unknown people are to be eyed with suspicion. Does anyone involved look at their lawnmover guy the same way?

Damn you Thomas Lafoe. Why did you have to move to Florida? What crime-ridden ways are you hiding? Have you done this before? Why not take a plea deal? You already confessed. If the Casey Anthony trial bolstered your hopes for an acquittal, think again. There can’t be that many stupid jurors in Pinellas county and I hope you get the smart ones.

Hopefully you already rue the day you killed my friend. If not, you’re going to have a long time to think about it as a guest of the State of Florida. See you at the trial.

Lafoe Has a New Attorney

The new regional counsel appointed for Thomas J Lafoe (aka Tom, Tommy, Butch) was posted on the Case Progress Docket late yesterday. The new attorney is  JOHN THOR WHITE of St Petersburg, Fl.

Admitted to the bar in 1973, he caused waves in Florida when he  petitioned the Florida Supreme Court in 1988 protesting the fees he was paid. He graduated from the University of Tampa with a BA and Stetson with a JD.

A web search shows that White has defended capital cases that are quite heinous including violent sexual assault followed by murder* and murder of a police officer**.  You have to wonder how he can sleep at night.

That doesn’t mean he gets them off. He tries to find cause for double jeopardy and other technicalities. It looks like we’re in for the long haul.

“Be present – it is the only moment that matters.” Peaceful Warrior

*Robert Waterhouse is on Florida’s Death Row

** Joshua Altersberger is on Florida’s Death Row

Lafoe’s Hearing 10/6/2011

Today is not a good day for Jeff’s friends and family. Thomas (aka Butch, Tom or Tommy) Lafoe’s hearing was today. He didn’t just get a new lawyer. He got a “regional” lawyer appointed. (Insert your own string of three capital letters here.) So I did my little web search and see that four years ago Florida established Conflict Regional Counsel Offices to represent conflict matters — those cases where the Public Defender’s Office withdraws due to an ethical conflict.

It appears that felony cases handled by one of the five regional offices take an average of two years to resolve. Conflict cases tend to be more complicated and due to the policies of the Justice Administrative Commission, may have attorneys who live any part of the state and travel to the district for hearings. The attorneys certainly aren’t taking these cases to get rich. Private attorney compensation is limited to  $15,000 for capital murder cases and $2,500 for  felony cases with possible life prison sentences. They take these cases for the experience and networking opportunities.

Judge Ley told us that we wouldn’t find a resolution for our loss through the court system. That may be true. But rest assured, Thomas (aka Butch, Tom or Tommy) Lafoe, Jeff’s friends won’t forget and they will dog your steps as you wind your way through the criminal justice system on your way to meet your destiny. You may not see them but they will be there. Because that’s what friends do.

The next hearing is scheduled for November 2, 2011. More to come on that later.

Open Letter to Thomas J. Lafoe’s Family

Thomas J. Lafoe must have a lot of family that are following his case from afar. How do I know this? Mostly because I can see who’s looking for what in the admin part of my blog. In fact, today (today is an exception) there have been more searches for Lafoe than for Jeff Norton. I know about how many people look for Jeff’s information, so I have a pretty good idea of how many folks are looking for Lafoe’s updates. I know how to use the internet too, and I know that most of you live in the northeast. A few of you have made comments various places on the web apologizing for his actions, disparaging his reputation or trying to redeem your family reputation.

I know some of you call him “Butch”and others “Tommy” or “Tom” but to me he is simply Thomas J. Lafoe, Case # CRC1015736CFANO in the Pinellas County jail. I cannot envision him as anyone else. He ripped an ugly wound in my life with his actions. Put yourself in my place as, once again, I have to explain to my employer that I need a day off to go to court because my friend was murdered. In my world, nice people don’t have friends who are murdered.

I realize we may have a lot in common, outside of our relationship with him, so I am sending you this open letter:

Dear Lafoe Family and Friends,

I’m sure that the last 14 months have been hard on you and that you’ve been in shock since learning that your son/brother/uncle/friend/cousin/co-worker/neighbor/former employer/Army buddy/etcetera is a murderer.

I don’t know if you’ve had nightmares or lost sleep thinking about what may have happened the night he murdered Jeff Norton. I  have.

I don’t know if you’ve experienced the sheer terror of knowing exactly what he did. No one but the prosecutor and the defense can see anything except the “sanitized” file but I have a pretty good idea of what pictures and reports it contains.

I don’t know if you now wonder if a loved one is in harm’s way when phone calls are unanswered for more than a few hours as I do.

For years I’ve supported the ideals of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s work to help the wrongly accused. And I still do. I understand the constitutional protections of the accused. But I also understand the anguish of the friends who found Jeff’s body and those who are witnesses in one way or another. And I understand the visceral stillness of my body’s organs when another horrible detail comes my way. Time stops and my world is simply this horrific event.

So I am asking you to encourage your son/brother/uncle/friend/cousin/co-worker/neighbor/former employer/Army buddy/etcetera to take a plea deal the next time one is offered.

As you know, the whole judicial process, excepting the depositions, will start again with a new attorney in a couple of weeks. All of you have or had mothers and hopefully you loved them and they got to or will enjoy their last years.

Well, Jeff’s mother just turned ninety years old. Will you deny her peace at her age?

I won’t post anything that will interfere with Lafoe’s right to a fair trial but there is evidence that points directly at him. He will not be walking into free life again with or without a trial. No attorney can convince a jury otherwise. The evidence is too strong. And this trial will not be of the dragged out Casey Anthony variety.

It will last no more than one week and Judge Ley doesn’t fool around. She isn’t going to let any defense attorney make the mistakes that Jose Baez made. This case will have only one outcome and that outcome is “guilty.” Along the way, your family name will be dragged through the mud. Is this what you want?

So I ask you to do the right thing and convince your son/brother/uncle/friend/cousin/co-worker/neighbor/former employer/Army buddy/etcetera to take a plea deal if for no other reason than to give a grieving mother some closure. He knows he’s guilty and the police have his confession and other evidence on digital media.

All comments on this blog are private until they are approved. If you wish to make a comment for my eyes only as a way of sharing information, your request to do so will be honored.

I wish there was no need for this post and that we’d met in happier circumstances.


Jeff’s friend.


Distribution of surname "Lafoe" in United States

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