Ronny Zamora, who said “television intoxication” caused him to kill his Miami Beach neighbor 27 years ago, was released from prison yesteray and will be deported to his native Costa Rica, reports the Miami Herald. He will be under supervision for the rest of his life. Zamora, 42, was 15 when he and an accomplice shot 83-year-old Elinor Haggart and fled to Walt Disney World with her money. Zamora’s trial, the first to be televised nationwide, became an international sensation when his lawyer, Ellis Rubin, claimed that television violence on shows like Kojak had driven him to kill Haggart as he robbed her home.
Rubin tried to present experts who had studied the effects of television on children. The judge allowed neither the testimony nor the novel defense, and Zamora, who admitted the crime to police, was convicted. Rubin said he was happy about Zamora’s release. Of his trial tactics, he said, “I would do it again and I would be more successful than I was then.” Zamora became eligible for parole in 2001. Initially sentenced to life in prison, his release date was set for 2012 and then moved to June 2005. Prosecutors said Zamora should remain in prison because the victim’s family wanted him to serve his full sentence. Prosecutor Jay Novick read the parole commission a letter from Haggart’s granddaughter calling Zamora a “punk.”