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Conviction Upheld in Illegally Recorded Murder

Times Staff Writer

It was one of the most unusual murder cases in Florida history, one in which the victim tape-recorded his own death and the killer demanded to go free because the taped evidence violated his privacy.

But, on Thursday, the Florida Supreme Court agreed unanimously that, although the state does have a law against tape-recording conversations without the consent of all parties, a murderer has “no reasonable expectation of privacy.”

Serving Life Term

Anthony Inciarrano, 45, a tough-talking bingo hall proprietor, will now complete a life sentence for his crime. He has remained in prison while the courts sifted through the narrow points of law that decided his fate.

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In 1982, Inciarrano murdered Earvin Herman Trimble, a one-time Riverside, Calif., real estate agent who had fled to the Fort Lauderdale area after being charged with grand theft. Trimble assumed the name Dr. Michael Phillips and, posing as a psychologist, built up a successful practice.

To make extra cash, Trimble joined with Inciarrano in a plan to open a bingo parlor. The two later quarreled about their plans, and, when Inciarrano confronted Trimble in his office, the “psychologist” surreptitiously flipped on a hidden tape recorder.

On the tape, Inciarrano is heard shouting, “We have a deal, yes or no?” Then shots are heard. The tape ends with the moaning Trimble dying on the office floor.

In a pretrial hearing, a circuit judge ruled that “common sense” must prevail. He ruled that the tape recording was admissible evidence. Inciarrano later pleaded no contest to a charge of first-degree murder.

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Decision Reversed

But a three-judge panel later ruled that such an illegally taped conversation could not be used in a criminal prosecution.

If the state’s high court had not reversed that decision Thursday, Inciarrano would have gone free.

“He’d be out for sure,” said Joy B. Shearer, the assistant attorney general who argued the case. “The tape was all the evidence we had.”

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