May 6, 2013
Governor Rick Scott
400 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32301
Dear Govenor Scott:
Must my son become mentally insane or die before my cries are heard? This is my third request asking and begging you to appoint a special prosecutor to my son’s case. Listen, please, my son, DeShon Rashard Thomas, is not a MURDERER!
On January 27, 2011, Leon County Sheriff’s detectives failed to properly investigate the murders of my son’s 20-year-old pregnant ex-girlfriend, Laqecia Herring and her bipolar 17-year-old brother, Sterling Conner Jr. The two victims were discovered deceased in their mother’s townhome by their mother, 16-year old brother and their mother’s girlfriend (significant other).
My son was charged with the murders on February 7, 2011. Since his arrest, he has had several attorneys on his case—one private attorney, Greg Cummings, to whom I paid $29560. And the others have all been court appointed attorneys either out of the Public Defender’s Office or the Criminal Conflict and Regional Counsel’s Office.
In August 2012, I advised my son to fire Cummings for basically failing to present a defense. From there my son’s case was sent to the Public Defender’s Office. The Public Defender’s Office immediately filed a motion to withdraw from the case. At first, Judge Hankinson denied their motion. Judge Hankinson then granted them relief and assigned his case to CCRCO. The CCRCO attorney assigned to the case in September 2012 was Samuel Olmstead. (Note: I often went to the courthouse to look in my son’s file—in doing so, I came across a signed court order where on March 8, 2011 Samuel Olmstead was relieved of all further representation of my son. However, Samuel Olmstead’s name does not appear on my son’s Court Docket for Case Process.) Finding this information that was unknown to my son and me, I attempted to make contact with Mr. Olmstead to question him as to why did Judge Hankinson re-assign him the case. My son and I never got the opportunity to ask that of Mr. Olmstead. After four months of absolutely nothing being communicated to my son about his case, as well as nothing being filed, investigated, etc., my son filed for Pro Se.
On February 19, 2013, my son, who is now 19-years-old, was standing in front of Judge Hankinson asking the court to allow him to represent himself (Pro Se). My son mailed requests to Mr. Olmstead and Cummings asking to send him a copy of his file. Both requests went completely ignored. Although Mr. Olmstead was supposed to appear in court with my son during the hearing to address his Pro Se filing, he was not there. Court was delayed. When a stand in attorney showed up, the stand in attorney announced that Mr. Olmstead was resigning from the CCRCO, effective March 1, 2013. At that time, my son learned that he would be assigned a new CCRCO attorney. My son had a scheduled trial date for April 22, 2013, so my son was looking forward to meeting with his new attorney with the hopes that his new attorney would either file Habeas Corpus on his behalf, file to have all charge dismissed or be prepared for his upcoming trial. At the conclusion of the hearing, my son chose to withdraw his Pro Se filing. Therefore, showing that even after not being shown one shred of evidence and not having read one sworn statement incriminating him—something to show cause as to his 24 months of incarceration, my son had hope that his new CCRCO attorney will work in his favor.
On or about March 3, 2013, my son cited supportive facts in a Petition for Habeas Corpus and asked the CCRCO to file it on his behalf. The Habeas Corpus Petition was not discussed with him or filed for him by his new CCRCO attorney, Daren Shippy, who is one of the supervisors at the CCRCO.
On March 20, 2013, CCRCO Attorney Daren Shippy, filed a motion asking Judge Hankinson to relieve his office from the case. Mr. Shippy’s motion was denied.
Despite evidence immediately available to exonerate my son of the murders, as well as the other charges, there’s no attorney willing to be ethical and do their due diligence by my son and present the evidence in open court. State Prosecutor Jack Campbell refuses to allow the Medical Examiner’s Office to release the victims’ autopsy reports—citing “on-going investigation.” However, there are no public announcements indicating that the Leon County Sheriff’s Office is looking for an accomplice.
Although Det. Don Odham reported that my son’s co-worker/ roommate, Trentin Ross stated that he drove my son to the victims’ residence and basically witnessed the murders from a distance—there is no indication that Mr. Ross is a potential suspect, accessory to the murders or anything to the contrary. Furthermore, Det. Odham was the 2nd lead detective on the case. When Det. Odham became lead detective on the case, other detectives had already concluded their investigations without weight to give cause as to my son being the murderer. The 1st lead detective, Det. McBride, has contradicting reports to that of Det. Odham. Det. McBride’s report basically states that Det. Odham is a LIAR! It has been said that Det. Odham was a Reserve Deputy who was not qualified to be a lead detective over any case, let alone a double homicide investigation. It was brought to my attention that it was Det. Odham’s wife, who is vice-president at BB&T Bank, as to why Det. Odham was assigned to be lead detective over Det. McBride. Det. McBride has been with Leon County Sheriff’s Office for about 17 years, they said she is clearly more qualified for the job. My son and I were not informed about Det. Odham’s firing (being relieved) from the Leon County Sheriff’s Office. Turns out, a few months after my son’s arrest, Det. Odham was involved in criminal activity in Alabama, where he tried to elude the police.
I have been constantly providing proof that the judicial system is taking advantage of my son’s lack of knowledge of his rights. My son has been in solitary confinement for about 9 months. He cannot make phone calls nor have visitors. I’m sure when jail officials imposed this punishment on my son they were hoping to prevent me from informing my son of his rights, but that didn’t happen. Judge Hankinson is not protecting my son’s Constitutional Rights. As a matter of fact, before I took my life’s savings and gave it to Defense Attorney Greg Cummings, a private attorney who is also registered with the CCRCO, my son and I had been constantly calling the Leon County Clerk of Court and the CCRCO’s office to get the name of my son’s court appointed attorney. Every time we called, both offices told us that my son had not been assigned an attorney. What I later learned, was that several of Judge Hankinson’s signed court orders assigning my son court appointed attorneys had been withheld from the Clerk of Court–therefore, being withheld from my son. Had my son and I had access to a court appointed attorney before retaining Cummings, we may have never retained Cummings.
I strongly believed that withholding the orders from the Clerk of Court was an intentional internal act of deception. I strongly believe this because on or about February 15, 2011, during the initial meeting with Cummings, I concluded the meeting by telling him that I was going to wait to speak with my son’s court appointed attorney before retaining a private attorney. Now that I know that Cummings has had unethical communications with State Prosecutor Jack Campbell, the Leon County jail staff, Judge Hankinson and his direct connection to the CCRCO—yes, I strongly believe that shielding my son from finding out about his court appointed attorney, was all an inside sinister act. If you go back and read the first letter that I mailed to your office, I clearly state that my son was in jail for over a month without an attorney— the reason why I say that is because the Clerk of Court, my son and I did not know that the name of his court appointed attorney.
On March 12, 2011, with pen in hand—right before I signed a contract for service with Cummings, I asked to get my son’s cell phone records Unsealed, provide us (my son) with the autopsy report (specifically time of death) and get a sworn deposition from my son’s co-worker/ roommate 21-year-old Trentin Ross. Trentin Ross’ sworn deposition was crucial because within the days leading up to my son being charged with the murders, while my son and I was at Mr. Ross’ apartment retrieving what was left by Leon County Sheriff’s detectives of my son’s belongings, there were about six Leon County Sheriff’s detectives present. They were pressuring and aggressively harassing Mr. Ross to say something incriminating about my son. So really when I learned that statements supposedly made by Mr. Ross was what gave weight for Det. Odham to prepare probable cause to have my son charged with the murders, my son and I were not surprised. Also, since we had already had a bad encounter with Det. Odham, who immediately proved to my son and I to be racist, my son and I discredited any and everything out of his mouth. I stressed to Cummings the importance to get those pieces of evidence—they could definitely exonerate my son.
According to Cummings, he attempted to take Mr. Ross’ deposition at least 3 or 4 times. Every time Mr. Ross made himself Unavailable. Cummings emailed me basically stating that Mr. Ross, who had moved back to his hometown of Daytona Beach in October 2011 and did not want to come to Tallahassee to give a deposition because he did not have transportation to get there. Even after Cummings offered to reimburse his travel expenses, pay for him a Greyhound bus ticket, etc. Mr. Ross still refused to come. In an email dated July 18, 2012, Cummings states that Mr. Ross’ attorney, Paul Srygley, who lives in Tallahassee, refused to travel to Daytona Beach for a deposition because it would take an entire day and he will not get paid for the trip. Cummings also states that State Prosecutor Jack Campbell was going to go to Daytona Beach to get Mr. Ross’ parents to convince Mr. Ross to come to Tallahassee. Meanwhile, my son, who is innocent, just sits in jail until Mr. Ross is available to give a deposition. That makes absolutely no sense at all!
Cummings was fired because of severe lack of communication and failure to comply with his contract. Cummings promised to provide my son with all information in regards to his case, as well as to get my son’s cell phone records Unsealed—he did not do any of that. As you read this letter, do you, yourself not find it odd that after over two years of my son being in jail that my son and I do not know for sure if 2nd lead Det. Odham, was a Reserve Deputy or a full-time deputy. Det. Odham was the detective who got State Prosecutor Jack Campbell to sign the probable cause for the murders. Det. Odham is a wealthy friend of the Campbell Family; and by all accounts is a huge liar. In my son’s case, creditability matters—while State Prosecutor Jack Campbell and Leon County Sheriff’s detectives have plenty of reasons to lie, my son has no reason to lie.
Simultaneous to firing Cummings from my son’s case, Leon County Sheriff’s detectives charged my son with solicitation to commit murder—with the target being none other than the witness whose own attorney doesn’t want to travel to participate in the deposition of–my son’s former co-worker/ roommate and State Prosecutor Jack Campbell’s supposed “key witness,” Trentin Ross. Judge Hankinson signed off on the probable cause for solicitation to commit murder the same day Cummings filed his motion to withdraw from my son’s case. Therefore, my son believes that Judge Hankinson has predetermined that he is guilty—which is not surprising considering the fact that Judge Hankinson has not been protecting his rights in all of this time. Judge Hankinson has to know that by denying CCRCO relief from my son’s case, automatically puts my son in a position to be granted a new trial citing ineffective counsel, if for whatever reason he were to be found guilty—which I highly doubt it goes to trial.
In January 2013, Leon County issued a warrant for Trentin Ross’ arrest for failing to appear at his case management hearing for cultivation of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. Up until my son fired Cummings, the court showed Mr. Ross high favor. On the same day that Det. Odham states that Mr. Ross voluntarily gave incriminating statements that led to my son’s arrest (2/4/11), there was an Oral Motion filed in court relieving Mr. Ross of all Pre-trial costs, including the cost of Urine Analysis.
This case process has become such a disgrace to justice. As I type this letter, my son does not have a trial date on the books. I don’t have much money, but every attorney that I’ve spoken with has told me that due to the fact that my son’s case is “old” and “nothing” has been done, their fee to take his case will be significantly higher than they would have been had I come to them back in 2011.
My son and I have filed complaints with The Florida Bar as to how Cummings mishandled his case. Despite Cummings having violated numerous codes within the Code of Professional Misconduct, The Florida Bar found no violations. Yet, when I discussed my son’s case with staff at the FDLE and the executive and other staff members at the Florida Innocence Project, they have stated their surprise by The Florida Bar’s response.
When does it end? I have significant information that will show fabrication of evidence and prosecutorial misconduct, but where can I go if no one will take the timeout to do their job—represent my son ethically. Thus far, my son and I have nowhere to turn to get his day in court. One of my close confidants told me that my son’s case reminds him of the short story, ‘A Man Without A Country.’ In my son’s case, ‘A Teenager Without A Lawyer’ (not an ethical one). No local lawyer wants to be the one to reveal the disgraceful actions of State Prosecutor Jack Campbell, Sheriff Larry Campbell and Judge Hankinson.
Take a brief moment, if you will—and think about it: State Prosecutor Jack Campbell has the daunting task to turn a huge pack of Leon County Sheriff’s detectives’ lies into truths (impossible)—to keep his dad, Sheriff Larry Campbell, and his dad’s employees from being exposed as liars and bringing their incompetence to the surface. This has to be a heavy burden for Prosecutor Jack Campbell to shoulder but it is what it is. A media source reported that Sheriff Larry Campbell was at the crime scene with his detectives shortly after they began processing the crime scene. Normally, an experienced law enforcement officer can look at a victim’s gunshot wound and be able to identify what caliber firearm was used to shoot the victim with. In this case, both victims were shot two times in the head. The Leon County Sheriff’s detectives reported the victims as having been murdered with a 9 mm. Despite having FDLE firearms laboratory reports on hand for a couple of weeks, on the same day State Attorney Georgia Cappleman obtained a grand jury indictment—she told a reporter with the Tallahassee Democrat, in short, “the bullets used in Thomas’ 9mm pistol were consistent with the victims’ wounds.” The likelihood of her having told the grand jury the same information is significantly high. On the other hand, FDLE firearms laboratory report states that the victims were murdered with a .38 caliber firearm and that the projectiles removed from the victims’ heads are consistent with class 38 projectiles. How can this discrepancy be explained to a jury of 12? It can’t be—there’s no excuse.
So what does State Prosecutor Jack Campbell do when the investigation and his own witnesses are crooked and he can’t prove to a jury that the defendant is the murderer of two of his friends and his possible unborn child–he attempts to make the defendant a party to a plot to murder and uses the defendant’s attorney to help intimidate the defendant’s family members. With the firing of Cummings, their “wingman”, Leon County Sheriff’s detectives had to prematurely end their investigation regarding the solicitation to commit murder. The probable cause used to support that charge is just as ridiculous as the probable cause for the murders.
My son, my family, friends and respective citizens of the community strongly believe that if a special prosecutor is assigned to my son’s case, it will relieve the tension of the court appointed attorney and allow him to proceed in my son’s best interest. It’s been over 26 months since my son was arrested. My son should not have to sit in jail while State Prosecutor Jack Campbell and Leon County Sheriff’s detectives try to figure a way to get out of this MESS that they created! Last year, every time my son’s case was to go to trial, State Prosecutor Jack Campbell asked and was granted a motion to have his case continued. One of the reasons for a continuance was because fired, 2nd lead Det. Don Odham was going on a family vacation.
All that I have stated above is just a small fraction as to why an outside party—special prosecutor—needs to intervene on my son’s case.
On July 18, 2012, you apologized to William Dillon for the 27 years of his wrongful incarceration. I can only hope and pray that you felt the deepest sympathy for him. Now ask yourself—10, 20—27 years from today is that something that you would want the Governor of Florida to be doing to my son? Apologizing for his wrongful incarceration because his mother’s cries feel on deaf ears? Please, I beg of you, to assign a special prosecutor to my son’s case. In doing so you will being doing the citizens of Tallahassee and abroad a great service.
I thank you in advance for your immediate response in regards to this matter.
Ms. Carissa Chambers