Imagine your seventeen-year-old son comes to you and tell you that his pregnant 19-year-old ex-girlfriend and her 17-year-old brother have been murdered. He tells you that there has not been an arrest for their murders. Then he tells you that he may have some information that may help detectives with their investigation. Next, he tells you that he has a feeling that the police are following him. You then discuss the information that he has to tell detectives and why he believes the police are following him.
As a responsible parent, you take your seventeen-year-old son, who has no violent criminal history, to the local sheriff’s office (in this case the Leon County Sheriff’s Office in Tallahassee, FL) to speak with law enforcement officers about the murders. As a parent, you are well aware of your parental rights. However, you never anticipate that you’ll find yourself in the presence of a racist cocky detective, who crumbles up your parental rights and tosses them into the trash can—like what you say means nothing. (Yes, right there in front of your son.) And then, when you tell detectives that you want an attorney for your son, they completely ignore you—leaving you standing in the lobby in total disbelief. Disbelief that the rights that your ancestors and so many Black people died for has been completely demolished right before your eyes. And for what? If you were a grizzly bear—you would’ve swatted their heads off their bodies—isn’t that what grizzly bears do when they feel like their cubs are in danger? Now you know with detectives totally disrespecting you as a parent, then they can only have ill will for your son.
Soon enough, detectives charge your 17-year-old son with Cultivation of Marijuana, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Two Counts of 1st Degree Murder, and Possession of a Firearm by a Juvenile Delinquent. Your son then sits in jail for over 30 days without a court appointed attorney. Acting on a referral, you hire a local private attorney.
When you learn that the State Prosecutor assigned to your son’s case is the son of the local Sheriff (who has jurisdiction over the murder investigation), you know that you have to watch the case very close. You learn that the 1st lead detective just about concluded that there wasn’t enough probable cause to charge your son with the murders. Then you learn that it was the racist detective that you first encountered (who turns out to be a possible reserve deputy) replaces the 1st lead detective. You see where there’s a possibility that this 2nd lead detective forges legal documents that led to your son being charged and arrested. Before you can digest that information, you find out that this 2nd lead detective’s wife is the vice president of a popular bank—they’re longtime family friends of the sheriff’s.
Over the next sixteen months, your son’s private attorney is not passing the numerous “Smell Tests” that you’re placing in front of him. There are certain things that the State Prosecutor is doing/ not doing that just cannot be considered coincidental. Your son’s trial date has been rescheduled four times. Meanwhile, your son’s private attorney never discussing his plan of defense with you or your son; he never deposes the one witness that detectives claimed to have given an incriminating statement about your son; he never discusses the victims’ time of death or their autopsy reports and he never UnSeal’s your son’s cell phone records—all of these key things that will completely exonerate your son. After investing $29560 in your son’s private attorney, you and your son decide to fire him.
Simultaneous to firing your son’s private attorney, you receive a jailhouse phone call from your son. He tells you that he’s being charged with Solicitation to Commit Murder. He tells you that law enforcement officers are saying that he put a hit out on the one witness that supposedly gave an incriminating statement against him. As you’re on the phone with your son, the phone call abruptly disconnects.
When you go to the jailhouse to visit with your son, you learn that he’s in solitary confinement, where he cannot have visitors and he cannot make phone calls. You cannot immediately afford an attorney, so you write to your son and you tell him to go with a court appointed attorney until you can get your finances in order.
Four court appointed attorneys later—two and a half years later, your son—who’s now 19-years-old, remains in the county jail without a sworn incriminating statement against him; without any physical, material, or circumstantial evidence against him.
The State Prosecutor is refusing to allow the Medical Examiner’s Office to release the victims’ autopsy reports into public record. Both you and your son remain in the dark about the victims’ time of death. Your son’s current court appointed attorney refuses to file the necessary court documents to have the victims’ autopsy reports made public record, as well as seek the disclosure of other vital information that can help immediately exonerate your son.
You’ve already filed a complaint against your son’s former private attorney with The Florida Bar—who is an official arm of the Supreme Court, charged with administering a statewide disciplinary system to enforce Supreme Court professional rules of conduct—however, their response is that they didn’t find where the attorney violated any of the rules of professional conduct. You begin to think that maybe The Florida Bar is treating you like a stepchild because you’re not the actual client. You encourage your son to file a complaint with The Florida Bar—his complaint is mostly ignored.
Now you, as a parent, start to feel hopeless about the county judicial system. You don’t have another lump sum of money to invest in another attorney—especially when The Florida Bar turns a blind-eye to a lawyer’s obvious unethical behavior. The Florida Ethics Commission says that there’s no existence of “natural bias” where the State Prosecutor is the son of the Sheriff. Regardless as to how obvious it is that the State Prosecutor is trying to cover up the mess made by his dad’s detectives for failing to properly investigate the double murder case—and then hastily arresting your son. You ask yourself, “Where do you go? What do you do?” You begin to feel frustrated! Your son has been in solitary confinement now for almost 300 days. The only time you get to see him is when he has a court date. You haven’t talked to him since… Now, as a God fearing parent, you have to reach deep down into your soul and revitalize your Spirit, after all that’s why God filled you with it!
You decide to write to the governor (again). You can’t write to the judge because the judge is not passing the “Smell Test” either. In your letter to the governor, you tell him all that you’ve told him before—but this time you tell him that you feel as if the judge presiding over your son’s case is not protecting your son’s Constitutional Rights.
A month later, at your son’s next court date, unbeknowest to you, there’s a new judge assigned to your son’s case. In addition to the new judge on his case, for the first time in 2 ½ years there’s been legal documents filed to show that your son has a legal defense. You check your son’s case file and you see that there was a Defendant’s Witness List and three Motions in Limine filed on his behalf. One of the Motions in Limine filed (Motion in Limine (Someone Else Committed the Offense)) is in regards to the same information that your son had planned to tell detectives 2 ½ years earlier. It’s information that your son’s previous attorneys were aware of from the start. Information that you learned the victims’ mother and other family members had told detectives just a few hours after the victims’ bodies had been found in the family’s townhouse.
The information: Within 48 hours of the victims being found murdered, the best friend of the female victim had posted on Facebook that she had a hit out on her (the female victim). The two young women had been doing a lot of arguing back and forth because the female victim owed the best friend and her best friend’s mother money for rent. A month earlier, the female victim had moved in with her best friend and her best friend’s mother—the living arrangements didn’t work out. The female victim moved out and refused to pay the rent owed. (The female victim had only been back in her mother’s townhouse a couple of days before the murders.) Within 48 hours of the victims’ bodies being found, the female victim, along with other friends and family members, went over to the now ex-best friend’s house to fight over the numerous threats that had been exchanged over Facebook. Within 48 hours of the victims’ bodies being found, as they were all packed into a car headed to fight her once best friend, the female victim warned her family members and friends not to go up to the girl’s house because her mama has a gun.
According to detectives reports, on January 27, 2011 as detectives were still processing the crime scene, the once best friend—the young woman who’d recently had a highly charged confrontation with the female victim, showed up at the crime scene distraught. Detectives suggested that she go to the sheriff’s office and give a statement. (The location of the crime scene, the sheriff’s office and the best friend’s residence are all located within about a five mile radius.) At the sheriff’s office, the young woman did not deny making the threats or any of the other issues surrounding the facts that there were clearly issues between the three of them (her, her mother and the female victim) over money.
Despite having a number of witnesses who’d read the back and forth threats between the female victim and the best friend (including your son), detectives allowed the ex-best friend to retain her cell phone and leave the sheriff’s office. When detectives learned that there may have been at least 15 people total involved in the confrontation between the best friend and the female victim, instead of detectives seeking the best friend’s mother’s gun, using fabricated information, they obtain a court order for your son’s cell phone records and to have your son GPS tracked by his cell phone via his cell phone carrier. When your son’s cell phone records don’t give weight to detectives’ theory (whatever it may be), they obtain another court order to have your son’s cell phone records Sealed. And when detectives locate your son—they don’t approach him right away. They watch him get into the backseat of a vehicle with a young child and another male; getting in the front seat was a female and a male. Detectives follow the vehicle and then initiate a traffic stop. During the traffic stop they make everyone get out of the vehicle. They ask your son if he wants to come to the sheriff’s office to give a statement—when your son tells them no—they take photos of your son’s shoes and allows him to go on with the other occupants with exception of one. (One of the males had an outstanding warrant for non-payment of child support.) All of these events occur on the same day the victims’ bodies were found.
Unfortunately, for sheriff’s detectives, the two young victims were both in debt to others for more than $300. The sixteen-year-old brother tells detectives that his brother (male victim) had been given $400 in fake money by an adult male to purchase drugs. The plan the adult male had was for them to resell the drugs and split the money.
The male victim’s best friend (a thirteen-year-old male) tells detectives that within 48 hours of the victims being found murdered, he and the male victim were talking—he said that the male victim told him that he owed someone some money and he seemed to be very worried about it. The best friend also tells detectives that the male victim had been threatened by 20 or more other male youths—so much so—that his uncle (the best friend’s) had to keep the boys from fighting him (the male victim). Lastly, the best friend asks detectives if they’d found the male victim’s gun. When detectives ask what gun—that means that they had not found it. The best friend tells detectives that the male victim had in his possession a gun—a .38 caliber gun. When detectives ask him where the gun could be located, the best friend gave them several possible locations—one being the male victim’s residence and another being in his (the best friend’s) grandmother’s backyard where he himself lived. Instead of detectives going to speak with the best friend’s grandmother, they called her and ask her to look for the gun and to give them a call back. The grandmother never calls detectives back. When detectives call the grandmother back, she tells them that she had not found the gun. (Note: the male victim had a history of physically beating up this best friend. Why would a grandmother want to voluntarily turn a gun over to detectives that could possibly be involved in a double murder investigation of an older teenage boy who repeatedly beat up her grandson?)
A thirty-eight caliber gun…
Detectives told judges, possibly the grand jury, the media, and the community that it was your son’s 9 mm pistol that was responsible for murdering the two victims. But the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Firearms Section clearly states in its laboratory reports that the two projectiles pulled from each of the victim’s heads (they’d been shot in the head 2 times each) are from that of 38/357 class firearm. (The firearm that has not been recovered.)
Within a few hours after finding the victims, their mother and other family members tells detectives that their residence had been recently burglarized—more than once. The mother tells detectives that her son (male victim) identified the burglar as his 16-year-old male friend. The mother tells detectives that her son (male victim) told her that while he was asleep, the 16-year-old male friend some kind of way entered into their residence. When he awoke, the friend was standing over him. Detectives are told that the male friend and the male victim had also recently gotten into a physical fight. The victims’ mother provides detectives with the contact name and number for the 16-year-old male’s mother. Apparently, detectives never make contact with the male friend’s mother. A few months after the murders, the male friend (who’d turned 17-years-old) was arrested for assaulting someone with a gun. Despite this 17-year-old male’s extensive juvenile record, his assault with a gun charge is left in the juvenile court division—where the details about the assault—including what type of gun was used are confidential.
Now with a new judge on your son’s case, your curiosity level peaks—you need to know what, if anything, did the judge actually do or did not do—other than allow the sheriff’s son (state prosecutor) and your son’s former private attorney to allow shenanigans to go on in his courtroom. You immediately learn that you were right! The judge did fail to protect your son’s Constitutional Rights. You learn that not only did the judge fail to protect your son’s Constitutional Rights, but the judge actively participated in violating your son’s Constitutional Rights.
After thanking God for giving you the wisdom to see all of discrepancies in your son’s case—now what do you do? You still don’t trust criminal defense attorneys. You have spoken directly to the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement about your concerns of corruption involving those in authority. However, the FBI and the FDLE tells you that they can’t get involved until the legal case against your son is over.
No, it’s not your son–it’s my son. There’s a motion filed showing where someone else likely committed the murders, but the judge has scheduled to take up that motion almost two months out (mid-August 2013). Meanwhile, my son’s 20th birthday is coming up—it’ll be his 3rd birthday for him to have spent in jail. Because there’s no widespread community outpour—my news media contacts are falling flat. I know that I have a story to tell—but seemingly no one wants to be the first to break the news.
“Injustice anywhere, is a threat to justice everywhere.” —MLK Jr.