Key evidence suppressed in Hernando murder case
By Joel Anderson, Times Staff Writer
Joel AndersonTampa Bay Times In Print: Saturday, August 14, 2010
BROOKSVILLE — After nearly four hours of questions at the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office, Robert Jardin decided that he was through talking with detectives. He told them he was ready to go home.
But the detectives told him to sit down. Then they told him they had to go over the results of his voice stress analysis test. Finally, they told him he was going to be charged with a crime.
It was at this point, Circuit Judge Jack Springstead said, that detectives should have advised Jardin of his Miranda rights. Because they failed to do so, the judge has suppressed statements Jardin made in reference to the October 2006 stabbing deaths of an elderly Masaryktown couple.
“The state detective should have known that discussions with (Jardin) regarding inconsistencies in his CVSA exam results could have elicited an incriminating response from (Jardin),” Springstead wrote in a ruling that was filed Friday.
Jardin faces two counts of first-degree murder, armed burglary and grand theft for his role in the stabbing deaths of Patrick and Evelyn DePalma in their home in rural south Hernando County. His trial is set to start on Aug. 23. If convicted, Jardin could be sentenced to death.
Assistant State Attorney Pete Magrino, the county’s chief homicide prosecutor, said he was disappointed with the ruling but wasn’t surprised given Springstead’s line of questioning during Wednesday’s hearing over the motion.
“I anticipated this ruling,” Magrino said. “And although it affects the presentation of the case, it’s not going to stop the prosecution of the case.”
The issue before Springstead was whether Jardin was properly informed of his Miranda rights before making statements to detectives during an interview at the Sheriff’s Office in July 2008.
Jardin went to the office after being summoned there by deputies who told him they were looking into a bar fight. He initially signed a Miranda waiver form and agreed to speak with detectives in a “non-custodial” interview, according to the motion.
As the interview went on, the questioning shifted to the murder case. According to court documents, Jardin said he was at the home the night of the murders and saw the couple lying dead in a hallway.
Jardin submitted to a lie detection test, and eventually told authorities that he was through answering questions. He said that he was told, “If I take this test and passed, I could go. I’m ready to go.”
Detective Phil Lakin then attempted to delay Jardin, telling him they were still looking over his test results.
In his ruling, Springstead notes that the interview had “shifted from a consensual, non-custodial interaction into a custodial interrogation” and authorities should have again advised Jardin of his Miranda rights.
Minutes later, Jardin asked if he was going to be charged with a crime. The detectives said yes, and Jardin responded, “Well, then I guess I better go hire a lawyer.”
Jardin later waived his right to an attorney. However, Springstead noted that Sgt. Billy Beetz asked Jardin if he waived his right to an attorney because he “intended to compel an affirmative response.”
“This is exactly the type of compelling pressures that undermine one’s willpower that the Miranda doctrine was designed to prevent,” Springstead wrote in his ruling.
Unfortunately, the Leon County Sheriff’s Office and Florida’s 2nd District State Attorney’s Office does not mind violating citizens Florida and U.S. Constitutional Rights nor do they mind wasting taxpayers’ dollars.
On January 28, 2011, the day after 17-year-old DeShon Thomas’ two friends were found murdered in their Tallahassee townhouse, DeShon and his mother voluntarily went to the Leon County Sheriff’s Office—only after DeShon had told his mother that he’d been questioned during a traffic stop the previous night by Leon County Sheriff’s deputies. (On January 27, 2011, a few hours after the victims were found murdered, the Leon County Sheriff’s Office obtained a court order to have AT&T provide them with DeShon Thomas’ cell phone records, as well as to have DeShon’s cell phone GPS tracked—reporting his whereabouts to both the Leon County Sheriff’s Office and the Tallahassee Police Department every 15 minutes. Deputies soon pulled over a car in which DeShon was a backseat passenger.)
Unbeknowest to DeShon and his mother, Leon County Sheriff’s detectives had already pre-determined that DeShon was the murderer of the two victims long before they blindly walked into their office to give their statements. When DeShon agreed to speak with detectives in a “non-custodial” interview, his mother didn’t object until Reserve Deputy Don Odham would not allow her to get on the elevator—blocking her every move. DeShon’s mother invoked DeShon’s Miranda Rights and told them that she wanted an attorney for her son, who was a minor. Instead of adhering to DeShon’s mother’s request—detectives completely ignored her; deliberately kept DeShon and his mother at the Leon County Sheriff’s Office—locked them into an interview room, and then seven hours later (2 a.m. January 29th)—stated that DeShon was going to be placed under arrest, refused to tell his mother what he was being charged with—and then Reserve Deputy Don Odham, who’d been using racist vulgar, abruptly kicked Deshon’s mother out of the Leon County Sheriff’s Office—escorting her from upstairs and out of the doors—using racist vulgar and making disparaging statements the entire time.
It wasn’t until around 5 a.m. as to when DeShon’s mother received a phone call from the Juvenile Assessment Center asking her to come pick DeShon up. DeShon had been charged with cultivation of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. It was later learned that during the time when DeShon and his mother were at the Leon County Sheriff’s Office, detectives had used false information to obtain a search warrant for 21-year-old Trentin Ross’ one-bedroom apartment. Trentin Ross and DeShon were co-workers. DeShon had been temporarily living with Mr. Ross. During the execution of the search warrant, detectives located 5 pots of soil with marijuana stems sprouting from them in Mr. Ross’ bedroom closet. Both Mr. Ross and Mr. Thomas was charged, despite Mr. Ross admitting to caring for the plants—never implementing Mr. Thomas as the care provider or the one who brought the plants into his residence. It would be the cultivation of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia charges that would hang over Mr. Ross’ head until he testified at DeShon’s recent trial in October 2013.
Mr. Ross, who waited 11 days, despite numerous interviews with Lt. Baxter, reportedly told Reserve Deputy Don Odham that he knowingly knew that 17-year-old DeShon had in his possession 3 guns before driving DeShon to the victims’ residence during the early morning hours on January 27, 2011 and from afar—basically witnessed a double murder and then drove DeShon to dispose of a gun in a dumpster that was no less than a mile away from the victims residence.
Mr. Ross was not charged in relation to the murders. The gun used in the murders was not recovered.
When 21-year-old Mr. Ross allowed 17-year-old DeShon to move into his apartment without DeShon’s mother’s permission, Mr. Ross assumed guardianship over DeShon. As stated in Florida Statutes 790.22 4)(a) Any parent or guardian of a minor, or other adult responsible for the welfare of a minor, who knowingly and willfully permits the minor to possess a firearm in violation of subsection *(3) commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. *Subsection (3) A minor under 18 years of age may not possess a firearm, other than an unloaded firearm at his or her home, unless:
During the time when Mr. Cummings was representing DeShon Thomas—DeShon’s mother brought the above information to Mr. Cummings attention in an email. Although Mr. Cummings never responded to the email, it supports DeShon’s mother’s belief that Mr. Cummings was having unethical communication with State Prosecutor Jack Campbell, hence, never objecting to Mr. Campbell’s repeated motions for continuances and the timing of the solicitation to commit murder plot—when Mr. Cummings may have heard about DeShon’s mother speaking with a local attorney about taking over as legal counsel. (**click link**) egc 3 24 12
The Leon County Sheriff, the 2nd District State Attorney’s Office and all of those representing the 2nd Judicial Circuit MUST abide by ALL State and Federal Laws accordingly. And for those who choose not to–MUST be held accountable.