Sometime before the 7:00 p.m. closing time on Sunday evening, February 16, 1975, a man entered the
Pantry Pride store on Gandy Blvd. in Tampa, Florida and hid inside. Several hours later, masked and armed with a handgun, the
man approached Albert McKinley, the janitor, who was alone and cleaning the store. The masked gunman ordered Albert McKinley
to assist him in breaking into the locked pharmacy inside the store, and to fill a plastic garbage can with prescription drugs.
Shortly before 12:50 a.m. Monday, February 17, 1975, a twenty-year old security guard named Steve Bluffstone was guarding a bank
construction site adjacent to the Pantry Pride store and heard the sound of breaking glass coming from the direction of the store.
Steve Bluffstone drew his gun, ran to the store and intercepted the masked gunman and Albert McKinley as they came out through
the broken glass of the front door.
The security guard ordered the masked gunman to raise his hands and at that time the gunman and Bluffstone both simultaneously
fired several rounds at each other at close range. Bluffstone was shot twice, and fell to the ground. The gunman then took the
janitor, Albert McKinley’s car keys, picked up Bluffstone’s pistol and fled the scene in McKinley’s station wagon, which had been
parked in front of the store. Bluffstone died at Tampa General Hospital the next morning.
On April 5th, 1978 Charles Norman was falsely arrested for the murder of Steven Bluffstone. In February of 1980, Charles Norman
came to trial in Tampa Florida. The murder weapon was never produced. Albert McKinley, the victim of the robbery, did
not identify Charles Norman despite spending nearly an hour with the perpetrator, but gave a physical description of the
perpetrator as close to 5’8”, 150 lbs. compared to Norman’s 5’11”+, 200lbs. There was NO physical evidence of any kind produced
linking Charles Norman to the murder.
Four witnesses (FOR THE PROSECUTOR) testified that Charles Norman confided to them at various times after the murder, that he
had shot Steven Bluffstone during the robbery at the Pantry Pride store. All four witnesses RECEIVED IMMUNITY from prosecution!
TWO for FIRST DEGREE MURDER, two were released from prison in return for TESTIMONY, and one of the four witnesses had pending
drug charges DISMISSED after he testified at trial against Charlie. ONE WITNESS, RUDOLPH HARRIS, RECANTED HIS TESTIMONY!!
Only the guilty are given immunity -- the innocent don't need it.
CHARLES NORMAN HAS MAINTAINED HIS INNOCENCE TO THIS DAY. A
REQUIREMENT FOR PAROLE IS TO SHOW REMORSE TO THE PAROLE BOARD FOR
THE CRIME YOU COMMITTED. CAN YOU IMAGINE HOW HOPELESS CHARLIE MUST
FEEL TO KNOW THAT, EVEN AFTER 38 YEARS, THE ONLY WAY OUT IS TO ADMIT
SOMETHING YOU DID NOT DO? MOST GUILTY PEOPLE WOULD HAVE ADMITTED THE
CRIME LONG AGO JUST TO GET OUT...
Excerpted from "The Innocence Project" the following facts represent just one method
regularly used by unscrupulous prosecutors:
In more than 15% of cases of wrongful conviction overturned by DNA testing, an informant or jail house snitch
testified against the defendant. Often, statements from people with incentives to testify – particularly incentives that are not disclosed to
the jury – are the central evidence in convicting an innocent person.
People have been wrongfully convicted in cases in which snitches:
•Have been paid to testify (truthful OR NOT)...
•Have testified in exchange for their release from prison...
•Have testified in multiple distinct cases that they have evidence of guilt, through overhearing a confession or
witnessing the crime.
DNA exonerations have shown that snitches lie on the stand. To many, this news isn’t a surprise. Testifying falsely in
exchange for an incentive – either money or a sentence reduction – is often the last resort for a desperate inmate. For someone who is
not in prison already, but who wants to avoid being charged with a crime, providing snitch testimony may be the only option.
In some cases, snitches or informants come forward voluntarily, often seeking deals or special treatment. But in MANY cases law
enforcement officials seek out snitches and give them extensive background on cases needing 'HELP' -
essentially feeding them the information they need to provide appropriate false testimony.
Snitches continue to testify in courtrooms around the country today. In some cases without biological
evidence, the snitch testimony is the only evidence of guilt.
Vital reforms are needed to ensure that these unreliable/questionable witnesses are not given undue weight
In 2005, the Center on Wrongful Convictions in Chicago issued a report, "The Snitch System: How Incentivized (incentive-based)
Witnesses Put 38 Innocent Americans on Death Row." The study provides a comprehensive look at the problem of snitch testimony, and
describes in detail how the use of snitch testimony contributed to the conviction of specific innocent defendants.
Two Canadian cases led officials to conduct studies of the use of in-custody informants:
- The Kaufman Commission (Guy Paul Morin case) – Ontario
- The Inquiry Regarding Thomas Sophonow – Manitoba"
The use of informants was the primary method utilized by police and prosecutors to
wrongfully convict Charles Norman.
HOW FOUR DANGEROUS CRIMINALS BECAME INFORMANTS
AND GOT AWAY WITH MURDER (Abridged):
Larry Rae Wingate and Keith Michael Chee-A-Tow were two violent drug dealers well-known to police, convicted felons, partners, who
admitted their knowledge and involvement in the drug store robbery and shooting of security guard Steve Bluffstone in the early morning
hours of February 17, 1975.
Wingate and Chee-A-Tow were given "immunity from prosecution for first degree murder" in exchange for
their false testimony that Charlie Norman told them he had shot someone.
Larry Wingate closely matched the eyewitness description of a white male, 5 feet, 8 inches tall, 150 pounds, blond
hair and mustache, wearing a white meat-cutter's coat, with a white apron wrapped around the lower part of his face. Less than 30
minutes after fleeing the scene in a stolen car, a panicked Wingate tried to give a pistol wrapped in a white apron to Debbie Wadsworth
in front of a north Tampa bar. She refused to take it. Later on, Wingate bragged that his wealthy father had paid off officials to keep him
from being charged with the crime. Wingate's testimony changed several times in the five years between 1975 and 1980, when he
testified at Charlie Norman's trial, contradicting several previous sworn statements. He never spent a day in jail for causing the death of
Keith Chee-A-Tow planned the drugstore robbery that resulted in the death of Steve Bluffstone. A Guyana native
of Chinese extraction, holding a British passport, he used his student visa as a cover for selling drugs at the University of South Florida.
His girlfriend, Carol Soriano, worked as a cocktail waitress at "The Pad Lounge," owned by infamous Tampa gangster, Pat Matassini. The
Pad Lounge is situated not fifty yards from the front door of the Pantry Pride drugstore/grocery where Steve Bluffstone was shot, and
shares a parking lot. Carol Soriano told investigators that she had seen Larry Wingate in the bar sometime around 5:30 or 6:00 PM,
Sunday, February 16, 1975, shortly before the Pantry Pride closing time. Wingate left The Pad Lounge, walked over to the drug
store/grocery, concealed himself somewhere in the rear meat department, and waited until the store closed. Hours later he accosted the
store janitor, Albert McKinley.
Keith Chee-A-Tow waited for Wingate at The Pad Lounge. He tried to use Carol Soriano as an alibi, saying she had the
night off, and they went to the movies, going so far as convincing detectives, after viewing movie listings in the Tampa Tribune's
newspaper archives, that they'd seen "Pardon My Blooper." Soriano contradicted his alibi, admitting she'd worked until midnight.
Testifying under oath at Charlie's trial, Chee-A-Tow finally admitted that entire story was fabricated, and he had perjured himself. He was
never charged with perjury. Prosecutors did not call Soriano to testify, protecting Chee-A-Tow.
Chee-A-Tow used Carol Soriano and several other young women to obtain fraudulent prescriptions for powerful drugs which he sold.
Soriano had become addicted to painkillers after an accident, and Chee-A-Tow was her drug supplier.
Chee-A-Tow was arrested by Hillsborough County Sheriff's deputies not long after the Bluffstone murder, and
pleaded guilty to a drug-related burglary of a pimp's apartment, during which he fired shots at several pimps who were pursuing him and
an unidentified white male accomplice. He was later deported to the Bahamas as an undesirable alien. Over the objections of the U.S.
State Department, the Hillsborough state attorney's office made a deal with Chee-A-Tow in which he was given legal U.S. residency and
immunity for all crimes he'd committed in exchange for his admittedly false, contradictory court testimony.
Rudolph Harris, Jr, son of a respected black Tampa civil rights activist, drug dealer, pimp, thief and notorious convicted rapist, along with
his partner, career criminal and professional informant/perjurer James Grayes, were two more convicted felons groomed to testify
against Charlie Norman by corrupt police and prosecutors. HARRIS RECANTED HIS TRIAL TESTIMONY YEARS LATER IN
A SIGNED AFFIDAVIT AND ON TAPE!
Police and prosecutors struck deals with Harris and Grayes in 1977, while they were in prison for other crimes, to
obtain their releases from prison in exchange for their perjured testimony against Charlie Norman. Officials from Tampa convinced the
Florida Parole Commission to release both Harris and Grayes because their testimony was needed in a homicide case.
After his trial testimony, Rudolph Harris, Jr. embarked on a new career as a serial rapist. He was convicted
in 1981 of eight brutal sexual assaults in Tampa, and remains in prison to this day. HARRIS RECANTED
HIS TRIAL TESTIMONY IN A SIGNED AFFIDAVIT AND ON TAPE!
Hillsborough County State Attorney MARK OBER refuses to accept any responsibility for the eight innocent
women traumatized by his pet witness' crimes. Had Mark Ober NOT obtained Harris' early parole from prison, putting him back into
an unsuspecting society, those eight victims would never had suffered horrendous rapes at the hands of Rudolph Harris. At the time of
Harris' trial, Mark Ober's role in releasing him from prison was kept secret. He quickly disavowed his previous promise to help Harris
later on if he ever got in trouble, telling him, "I can't touch this with a ten-foot pole."
After returning to prison, Harris made sworn depositions/affidavit recanting his testimony against
Charlie Norman, admitting that he and James Grayes had fabricated their entire testimonies, that Mark Ober had coerced him
to lie, threatening to send him back to prison, telling him, "You're on parole. You're on parole." Harris admitted that
Grayes told him that Wingate and Chee-A-Tow had committed the crime, that Charlie
had nothing to do with it...
There is MUCH more information about this unique case that will be added soon. Please
check this site frequently for updates...
|LINK TO 5 MINUTE YouTube VIDEO OF STAR PROSECUTION WITNESS RUDOLPH HARRIS RECANTING HIS TRIAL
TESTIMONY AGAINST CHARLIE!
|LINK TO FLORIDA DOC INMATE DATABASE. ENTER THE NAME OF RUDOLPH HARRIS
OR JAMES GRAYES FOR THEIR DOC PROFILES