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Duck Key in the Florida Keys

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A shooting on Duck Key at Number 1 Seaview Drive

One of the first residential homes built on Duck Key was the home of Duck Key developer, Bryan Newkirk. This home has some unusual history attached to it.

See Duck Key Mecca

 

 

1978 SHOOTING ON DUCK KEY

In 1978, the Newkirk home located at Number 1 Seaview Drive was owned by Mr. and Mrs. George deConingh. The Miami Herald wrote that neighbors described the relationship of the recently married deConinghs as a "stormy union, beset with arguments."

On September 30, a Friday night in 1978 the deConingh's hosted a dinner party. At around 12:30 AM a couple staying at the deConingh home called the sheriff's department to report a shooting. The Monroe County Sheriff's Department found George deConingh's body lying in a pool of blood in Suzanne deConingh's bedroom. George deConingh was dead. He had been shot in the neck, head and right side with a .38 caliber Smith and Wesson revolver.

The guest couple reported that the deConinghs had argued earlier in the evening and an officer quoted Mrs. deConingh as saying several times , "I just want him to leave me alone .

Mrs. deConingh was taken to Fishermen's Hospital in Marathon and was reported to be under sedation.

At some point Suzanne deConingh gave a sheriff's deputy a narrative statement of what had happened. Prior to the narrative she signed an "advice of rights" form. She did this against the advice of her attorney.

News reports indicate that a "doctor had diagnosed Suzanne deConingh as having lost touch with reality and prescribed two powerful tranquilizers."

Suzanne DeConingh was accused of killing her husband.

At trial the court ruled that Mrs. deConingh was not properly advised of her Miranda rights. The Court found that Mrs. deConingh was upset, crying, disoriented and hysterical when she made the statements. Further the Court found that no effort had been made to assure that Mrs. deConingh understood her rights and that the statement was not voluntary.

The decision was appealed and the 3rd District Court of Appeal said Miranda did not apply and that the statement was voluntary anyway.

This decision was appealed by Suzanne deConingh.

 

FURTHER COURT RULINGS 1982 - 1983

Some five years later the Florida Supreme Court took issue with the District Court of Appeal and decided to throw out Suzanne deConingh's confession made to Monroe sheriff's deputies, ruling that because she was tranquilized and emotionally distraught, she could not have confessed voluntarily.

The Supreme Court 's 5-2 opinion mainly dealt with the circumstances of deConingh's confession, not the legal standard for evaluating it. The Court's majority opinion stated: "The standard for admissibility is establishing beyond all reasonable doubt that the confession was freely and voluntarily made." The Court ruled that DeConingh's confession was not admissable.

However, the Supreme Court did grant a motion by the state for a rehearing.

As a result of the rehearing the Florida Supreme Court in a 4-2 ruling, held again that the hospital statement made by Suzanne DeConingh could not be used against her in court. The Court ruled that the statements were not voluntarily made and reinstated a trial court decision to suppress the statements as evidence.

Of note, the Supreme Court opinion said "The circumstances of this case ... add up to more than the addition of a disinterested third party. The deputy here took impermissible advantage of the situation, resulting in psychological coercion."

The end result of the various Court hearings, appeals, and rulings was that Suzanne deConingh was not to be found guilty.

 

1984 to Present

The Newkirk/ deConingh home changed ownership several times over the years since the deConingh shooting .

 

For a time Number 1 Seaview Drive was owned by the Brown and Root Corporation out of Texas. Later it became a corporate retreat of Kellog Brown and Root (KBR). KBR became a subsidiary of Halliburton. Halliburton broke it ties with KBR in 2007. The home is now a Corporate Retreat for Halliburton.

 

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