Jupiter resident Donna Horwitz on Thursday won a new trial for the 2011 murder of her ex-husband when the Florida Supreme Court ruled that a Palm Beach County jury shouldn’t have been told she refused to talk to investigators.
In upholding a decision by the 4th District Court of Appeal, the high court ruled that prosecutors improperly used Horwitz’s constitutional right to remain silent against her.
» RELATED: Read the Florida Supreme Court’s decision
“The state repeatedly emphasized Horwitz’s silence and repeatedly argued that her silence was ‘evidence of consciousness of guilt,'” Justice Barbara Pariente wrote in the court’s unanimous decision. “This use of Horwitz’s silence violated her state constitutional privilege against self-incrimination.”
The case that involved such a basic constitutional principle as the right against self-incrimination landed at the high court because the West Palm Beach-based appeals court decision that overturned her conviction was not unanimous.
Appeals Court Judge Mark Klingensmith disagreed with the other judges, citing a U.S. Supreme Court case he believed made testimony about Horwitz’s silence admissible. The appellate judges referred the matter to Florida’s Supreme Court for a more definitive ruling.
Horwitz, 69, is serving a life sentence. She was convicted by a Palm Beach County jury in 2013 of shooting her former husband Lanny Horwitz, 66, in the multi-million-dollar home they shared in the Admiral’s Cove community along the Intracoastal Waterway.
The two lived together even though they were divorced. The couple had been married for 30 years, divorced, remarried and divorced again.
During Horwitz’s trial, her attorneys argued that the couple’s son, Radley Horwitz, or a hit man hired by him could have been the killer.
Lanny Horwitz’s sister, Marcia Van Creveld, told The Post last year that Donna Horwitz’s conviction had given them closure, and they were shocked that she could possibly win a new trial.
“I just want justice for my brother Lanny,” she said.