Today a requested change in parole date was denied for a man convicted of murdering a Lee County Sheriff’s Deputy. Corporal Ronnie Fewell was shot and killed by Dale Lee Connolly in 1984. Assistant State Attorney Hamid Hunter of our Homicide Unit attended a hearing today before the Florida Commission on Offender Review in Tallahassee to represent and speak on behalf of the State Attorney’s Office in opposition of making the parole date sooner.
Connolly was convicted of First Degree Murder of a Law Enforcement Officer and three counts of Attempted First Degree Murder after being prosecuted by our office.
In March of 1983, Lee County Sheriff deputies responded to a domestic disturbance at his home. He first shot his wife in the abdomen and she survived. Connolly then laid in wait with his shotgun and opened fire on responding deputies. He mortally wounded Corporal Fewell by shooting him below his bullet proof vest. When Deputy Joseph Caiazza attempted to render aid to Fewell he was shot at and his radio was struck and shattered by bullets. He was injured by shrapnel. Deputy Mark Vutsinas was shot at but luckily the bullets hit his car and he was uninjured. Connolly then unsuccessfully tried to kill himself by shooting himself in the face with the shotgun but survived his injury.
Following trial, Connolly was sentenced to life in prison. At that time the law in Florida allowed parole. In 2011 he was given a presumptive parole release date in 2070. The purpose of today’s hearing was to review that date and determine whether it should be delayed further or moved up.
Along with ASA Hunter, Lieutenant Donnie Fewell, the twin brother of the slain deputy, Deputy Caiazza and Captain William Murphy from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office were there to speak.
The commission was also presented with letters from Fewell’s wife and daughter, who was an infant at the time her father was killed.
Connolly is 74 years old. His release date will be reviewed in seven years.
State Attorney’s Office