Second-Oldest Inmate on Florida’s Death Row Dies

This is a developing story. More information will be added as it becomes available. 

Florida’s second-oldest inmate has died, according to the Florida Department of Corrections website. Peter Ventura, who would have turned 78 in July, is listed as deceased on the DOC roster as of January 24, 2013. At this time, no details have been released regarding a cause of death.

Ventura was the second-oldest Florida death row inmate behind 82-year-old John Vining. Ventura was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1981 murder of Robert Clemente. He had been on death row since 1988.

Here’s the case summary from the Florida Commission on Capital Cases:

Jerry Wright had taken out a key-man life insurance policy on Robert Clemente, his employee. Wright had borrowed money from Jack McDonald and needed to repay the debt. He asked McDonald to find someone to kill Clemente, and then, Wright and McDonald would share the money from the insurance policy in repayment of Wright’s debt to McDonald. McDonald arranged a meeting between Wright and Ventura, an acquaintance of McDonald’s, in Chicago. Ventura agreed to kill Clemente for Wright and went to Volusia County in 1981 to complete the job.

On 04/15/81, Ventura, pretending to be a potential customer, contacted Clemente and arranged to meet him at the Barnett Bank in Deland. He and Clemente drove to the site that Ventura had previously chosen to murder the victim, and McDonald followed. After shooting Clemente, Ventura ran to where McDonald waited, and they drove to Daytona Beach. Ventura then received partial payment for his work and headed to Atlanta. When he received more money, Ventura flew to California.

Chicago postal authorities notified officials in Volusia County about a contract murder involving McDonald, Wright, and Ventura. McDonald was arrested when he went to meet Wright.  McDonald acted as the state’s key witness during Ventura’s trial. On 06/25/81, Ventura was arrested in Chicago and indicted on 06/30/81 for First-Degree Murder and Using a Firearm during the Commission of a Felony. He was bonded out of jail prior to extradition and did not appear for the extradition hearing on 08/18/81. Ventura eventually was arrested in Austin, Texas, because a coworker reported that Ventura had bragged to him about performing a contract murder in Florida.

Ventura was at Union Correctional Institution, one of two death row facilities housing Florida’s death row inmates. His death is the second at UCI in January. Another inmate, Jesus Delgado, reportedly committed suicide there on January 7.

Editor’s note: If you have any information about Ventura’s death, feel free to leave it in the comments below or to get in touch using the contact form. 

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