On September 13, 1989, police found the body of Ardelle Golden floating in a lake in Winter Haven, Florida. Her car was found nearby, submerged. Seven months later, in April 1990, police arrested Golden’s husband, Andrew Golden, and charged him with her murder. Golden denied any involvement in his wife’s death and filed two motions to dismiss, but both were denied.
At Golden’s trial in October 1991, the prosecution offered evidence that Andrew Golden was heavily in debt, and argued that he had pushed his wife in the lake, knowing she could not swim, in order to collect her life insurance. Golden had taken out a life insurance policy on his wife in April 1989, and then lied to investigators about doing so. Golden admitted that he had lied about the life insurance, but said he was doing so to protect his teenage sons. Police and medical examiners agreed that there was no evidence that the death was a homicide, but the defense failed to produce available evidence of suicide: Mrs. Golden was depressed over the recent death of her father, several notices of her father’s death were found in the car, a coffee mug was wedged near the brake, and the water in the lake was not above the victim’s head. The jury found Golden guilty, and he was sentenced to death on November 15, 1991.
On appeal, the Florida Supreme Court found insufficient evidence that the victim had been murdered. The Court vacated the conviction in November 1993, and Golden was released on January 6, 1994.
– Alexandra Gross