Murderer to be Kept Behind Bars

Assistant State Attorney Hamid Hunter of our Homicide Unit along with members of the victim’s family appeared before the full panel of the Florida Commission on Offender Review in Tallahassee this week to speak in opposition to the parole of inmate Clay Leonard Ennis. He was due to be paroled this month but as a result of this hearing, his Presumptive Parole Release Date has been pushed back for another three years and he will remain incarcerated until 2021. 

Ennis was sentenced to life in prison for the First Degree Murder of Thomas Coleman, the store owner of a family owned market in Lee County. He was also sentenced to serve a consecutive 5 years for Criminal Conspiracy. 

The crime occurred in May 1977 when Ennis and his two co-defendants conspired to rob Coleman’s family owned food market in Fort Myers. The co-defendants dropped Ennis off near the business and went to a local tavern to wait and pick him up. Ennis entered the store and demanded money from the store clerk at gunpoint. He then ordered the clerk to lie down before
ordering him into the bathroom. 

At this time, the clerk’s father, mother, and sister arrived in the parking lot. The father saw what was happening and entered the store while his wife and daughter called the police. The father struggled with Ennis for the gun and was shot and killed. The clerk emerged from the bathroom and was able to wrestle the gun from Ennis, holding him at gunpoint until the police arrived. 

In June 1985 while incarcerated for these charges, Ennis escaped from the Hendry County Correctional Institution by hiding in a laundry cart. The laundry cart with Ennis inside was loaded on to a truck. Ennis then jumped from the truck and fled on foot. Deputies ordered Ennis to stop but lost sight of him. Ennis was captured in Immokalee two days later. He was sentenced to an additional 6 months in prison to run consecutive to the sentence he was already serving.

Samantha Syoen
Communications Director
State Attorney’s Office