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Date of Issue: December 28, 2006

Zeigler murder trial delayed

A judge pushed back until at least February 2007 the trial of a 53-year-old Bradenton Beach woman accused of killing her boyfriend.

Frank Ray Reposh, 41, died at his home, a duplex at 7818 40th Ave. Drive W., sometime in September or October 2005, but his body was not discovered until June 7, 2006. The remains were found in a shallow grave near Reposh's home in a wooded area on Palma Sola Boulevard.

Merle Zeigler was arrested in connection with the killing. Her address at the time was on Third Street South in Bradenton Beach. She has remained in the Manatee County jail without bond since then.

Zeigler is charged with second-degree murder with a firearm, a capital felony charge that with a conviction could bring life in prison.

Zeigler's attorney, Jeffrey Haynes, declined to comment on the open case.

The state prosecutor, Eduardo Brodsky, could not be reached for comment.

Zeigler's trial had been scheduled to begin the week of Dec. 18 at the Manatee County Courthouse before Judge Edward Nicholas.

But because more time is needed to prepare for the trial, the case was continued until February 2007.

Zeigler's son, Joshua Phillip, also is charged with second-degree murder with a firearm in connection with Reposh's death. The 26-year-old is scheduled to go to trial the week of Feb. 12.

A probable cause affidavit in the case against Merle Zeigler states that she said Reposh had gotten high on drugs and angered her so she stabbed him in the ribs with a kitchen knife and then bound his hands and feet. She said she took $600 from him, which she used to buy drugs and rent a handgun. Then she returned to the duplex she was sharing with Reposh, got high, shot the man twice, wrapped him in a shower curtain and borrowed a van to take the body to the burial site.

Court papers filed in the case against Joshua Zeigler allege that Merle Zeigler fired a shot that wounded Reposh and that her son fired the fatal shot. The papers, based on jail conversations involving Joshua Zeigler, also allege that the son stabbed Reposh, not the mother.