Tallahassee, FL: In February 2012, seventeen year-old DeShon Thomas was charged with the January 27, 2011 discovery of two of his deceased friends. The victims in the case was DeShon’s pregnant ex-girlfriend, 20-year-old Laqecia Herring and her 17-year-old brother, Sterling Conner Jr. The victims were found murdered in their mother’s SW Tallahassee townhouse. When Leon County Sheriff’s detectives arrived on the scene, the victims’ mother told detectives that Laqecia Herring was approximately 5 months pregnant. She later told detectives that her son, Sterling Conner Jr., was diagnosed as being bipolar. After the victims’ mother gave detectives a laundry list of possible suspects (to which both victims had recently defaulted on two different monetary incidents–the victims’ 16-year-old brother told detectives that Sterling Conner Jr. had recently been given fake money to purchase drugs; the victims’ family members told detectives that Laqecia Herring had owed a female friend and her mother about $350 for rent–Laqecia Herring had lived with the female friend and her mother for less than a month before she abruptly moved out without paying them, in which Laqecia Herring had made it clear to the two women that she had no intentions on paying them the money. Laqecia Herring’s decision to not pay the victims resulted in several heated Facebook posts to include one by the female friend in reference to Laqecia Herring that stated, “I got a hit out on this bitch.” A day before all outgoing cell phone usage from Laqecia Herring’s phone came to an abrupt end, Laqecia Herring and a posse went to the female friend and her mother’s house. On the way to the house, it was reported that Laqecia Herring warned her posse that the female friend’s mother had a gun. When the posse arrived at the female friend and her mother’s house, they were met by the female friend’s posse. Laqecia Herring’s posse got out of the car–Laqecia Herring did not. Instead, she locked all of the doors and remained in the car. However, that didn’t stop the female friend from aggressively trying to get to her–demanding that she get out of the car. Witin 48 hours of this confrontation, during the mid-morning hours on January 27, 2011 Laqecia Herring and her brother, Sterling Conner Jr. were found murdered by their mother, their mother’s girlfriend (significant other), and their 16-year-old brother. Also in the townhouse was Laqecia Herring’s toddler daughter–she was unharmed.
Laqecia Herring did not own a car. It was reported that within 48 hours before she and her brother were found murdered, she got a ride to her mother’s girlfriend’s house where she was given $5 by her mother’s girlfriend to pay the car owner gas that was used to take her to the female friend and her mother’s house to confront her about the threatening Facebook posts(the late night/ early morning hours of January 25). The distance of Laqecia Herring’s mother’s significant other’s house, the best friend and her mother’s house where the confrontation took place and the crime scene is less than five miles.
Leon County Sheriff’s detectives chose not to investigate the incident between Laqecia Herring and the recent confrontation with her friend and her best friend’s mother. Leon County Sheriff’s detectives chose not thoroughly investigate the lead that Sterling Conner Jr. had been given fake money by an adult neighbor of his mother’s girlfriend. Neither did Leon County Sheriff’s detectives investigate the other leads given to them by the victims’ family members. DeShon Thomas was not a lead given to detectives. Nobody named DeShon Thomas as a possible murder suspect. Instead, Leon County Sheriff’s detectives chose to focus on two year old, non-violent juvenile charges and acted on a hunch–not evidence–and immediately obtained a court order for DeShon’s cell phone records, as well as having his cell phone placed under GPS monitoring. The probable cause for this action was frivolous. Detectives immediately set up surveillance on DeShon. An hour or so after, when they approached DeShon, they asked him if he wanted to go to the sheriff’s office–he declined. Detectives then had another deputy take pictures of DeShon’s shoes. DeShon was not taken into custody.
The next even, when DeShon’s mother arrived in Tallahassee from being out of town, DeShon told her about the murders, the Facebook arguing that concerned DeShon since there was a possibility that Laqecia Herring was pregnant with his child and the detectives’ actions. DeShon’s mother took him to the Leon County Sheriff’s Office. There she and DeShon were met by Detective Don Odham who used racist vulgar towards them. DeShon’s mother was not allowed to accompany him while he gave a statement. When DeShon’s mother told detectives that she wanted an attorney to accompany her son–her request was ignored. From there more frivolous search warrants were approved by Assistant State Attorney Jack Campbell and signed by Judge Ronald Flurry.
Although DeShon was not charged with the murders that night, detectives were acting like vultures waiting for a human to die. Their actions were cold and calculating. They absolutely wanted DeShon to be the murderer–nothing was going to stop them from charging DeShon with the murders–not the lack of evidence–not the fact that the mother told them about one of Sterling Conner Jr.’s 16-year-old male friends who’d recently lived at the residence with Sterling during the brief time when Laqecia had moved out. Then when things didn’t go well between Sterling and the teenage boy–the boy repeatedly burglarized the victims’ residence. During one burglary, Sterling was asleep in his bed and woke up to find the teenage boy standing over him. This 16-year-old boy had a more recent juvenile record than DeShon. This 16-year-old boy had a homicidal profile. This 16-year-old boy was never questioned by Leon County Sheriff’s detectives. And a few months after DeShon was charged with the murders of Herring and Conner Jr.–this now 17-year-old teenage boy was charged with assaulting someone with a gun. This 17-year-old teenage boy–whose name was given to Leon County Sheriff’s detectives early on in a murder investigation–was sent to a juvenile facility versus being charged as an adult. As for DeShon, he was charged as an adult on a bogus charge of cultivation of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.
After DeShon was in the Leon County Jail where juvenile inmates are housed, he was not provided with information as to who his court appointed attorney was–neither was the Clerk of Courts or the Criminal Conflict Office. Yet, Gregory Cummings, whom was told by DeShon’s mother that she was not going to hire an attorney until she and DeShon had an opportunity to speak with his court appointed attorney–continued to aggressively solicit her to hire him to represent his son. Gregory Cummings had previously met with DeShon’s mother and DeShon (separately). Gregory Cummings told DeShon’s mother that her son was polite–looked him in his eyes when he questioned him about his involvement–overall, Gregory Cummings stated that with his numerous years of experience of being a criminal defense attorney–he believed that DeShon was being truthful about not having any involvement with the murders. Despite Gregory Cummings evaluation of DeShon, DeShon’s mother still wanted to speak with DeShon’s court appointed attorney. However, that would never happen. A month had passed, additional charges were being filed against DeShon–and Gregory Cummings pressure for DeShon’s mother (not DeShon)to hire him–forced DeShon’s mother to take all of her savings to retain Gregory Cummings. Whereas other attorneys who DeShon’s mother had spoken with talked about how important it was to immediately hire an investigator to question witnesses–at the time of signing the contract Gregory Cummings told Deshon’s mother that the hiring of an investigator was not needed.
Gregory Cummings, a sole proprietor who works out of the comfort of his home–also is registered with the Criminal Conflict and Regional Counsel’s Office. DeShon and his mother would eventually learn that Gregory Cummings’ loyalty to Circuit Court Judge James Hankinson, Assistant State Prosecutor Jack Campbell and Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell trumped just aboout ALL rules laid out by the Supreme Court for governing attorney-client relationships. Gregory Cummings was DeShon’s attorney for well over a year. When DeShon’s mother acted on her belief that something was not right with Greg Cummings, she advised her son to fire him (for she was only financially obligated and had stopped making payments to him). When her son fired Gregory Cummings, the Leon County Sheriff’s Office, Assistant State Prosecutor Jack Campbell and Circuit Court Judge James Hankinson retailiated by charging DeShon with solicitation to commit murder and put DeShon in solitary confinement; blocked DeShon from being able to make any phone calls or have any visitors. DeShon has been in solitary confinement for over a year and he is still not able to make any phone calls or have visitors. Because of Gregory Cummings corrupt actions, the cost of DeShon’s representation has fallen to the taxpayers. DeShon has had several court appointed attorneys since firing Gregory Cummings. Circuit Court Judge James Hankinson is no longer presiding over DeShon’s case.
The excert below is from an email sent from Gregory Cummings to DeShon’s mother. You will read where Gregory Cummings was either allowed to listen in on a jailhouse conversation between DeShon and his mother or was told about a jailhouse conversation between DeShon and his mother by a jailhouse employee. Which raises the question as to if Gregory Cummings was acting in an ethical manner, why would he need to listen in or be told about conversations between his juvenile client and his client’s mother (who signed a contract making her financially responsible)?
You do not need retain another attorney. I told Deshon you cannot fire me. That would be up to him and we talked for a while yesterday and I do not believe he wants that. I did not speak to him about you in any negative way and told him I was disappointed at the fact that you and he had an argument and one of you hung up on the other.
Deshon asked what would happen if you did not pay me any more. I told him not to worry that I was his attorney and would not withdraw this close to trial because of non payment. and that would not be an issue. And our contract allows for that. That a non payment would be an issue between me and you and would not affect my representing him.
As for representing your son in a fair and just way. He is my main concern. However, another motivating factor is my work as viewed by those involved in the judicial system. I believe I have a very good reputation for what i do and have been quite successful at times. Even when cases turned out bad for my clients or I knew exactly what their involvement was never did I not do my best and each received a fair and just representation or as the court looks at it competent representation.
Enough as to this email. I doubt I’ll respond to the others at such length.
–Also, had DeShon told Gregory Cummings about the argument that he and his mother had—DeShon would’ve told him who hung up on who. In the above excerpt Gregory Cummings states as if DeShon is his number one concern—however, after DeShon fired Gregory Cummings, DeShon’s mother looked into DeShon’s court records and saw that Gregory Cummings had not filed any documents to show a defense for DeShon—not even a Defense Witness List.
As for depositions–after Gregory Cummings was fired, he told DeShon’s mother that he’d forwarded all of DeShon’s records to the Criminal Conflict Counsel’s Office. This is the email response sent from Gregory Cummings to DeShon’s mother –keep in mind that Gregory Cummings was DeShon’s attorney for over a year and was paid nearly $30,000. (click on the link Email from Cummings 8-14-13 )