Are Prior Sex Crimes Admissible In a Murder Case ?

The court held in Drake, 400 So. 2d at 1219, Peek v. State, 488 So. 2d 52 (Fla. 1986), and Thompson v. State, 494 So. 2d 203 (Fla. 1986), that prior sexual crimes of the defendants in those cases were inadmissible in their murder prosecutions because the collateral crimes were insufficiently similar. See Chandler v. State, 702 So. 2d 186, 192 (Fla. 1997). However, the only similarity between the crimes in Drake was that both victims' hands had been tied behind their backs and both victims had left a bar with the defendant. Drake, 400 So. 2d at 1219. In Peek, the principal similarities were that the crimes occurred within two months of each other in the same town, both women were white females, and both women were raped. See Peek, 488 So. 2d at 55. In Thompson v. State, 494 So. 2d 203 (Fla. 1986), the primary similarities were that both victims were approximately the same age and build, both crimes occurred near a particular church parking lot, and the defendant was having domestic problems on both occasions. See Thompson, 494 So. 2d at 204. In each of these cases, the court disallowed Williams rule evidence based on the few similarities and the many significant dissimilarities.