Leon County Sheriff’s Office: Bogus Protocol Surrounding Double Homicide Investigation/ Trial

On January 27, 2011 around 10:15 a.m. a mother’s frantic 911 call is answered by a Leon County Sheriff’s 911 operator. The mother is calling to report that she’d just returned to her townhome—finding her 20-year-old daughter, Laqecia Herring and possibly her 17-year-old son, Sterling Conner Jr. deceased (Laqecia’s body was sitting in a chair—clearly able to be identified—the body on the floor was fully covered—wrapped in two comforters—unable to be identified right away). Also in the townhome was Ms. Herring’s toddler daughter (unharmed). The victims’ mother told detectives that Ms. Herring was pregnant.

Leon County Sheriff’s deputies were no strangers to the address of the crime scene. There had been many calls of burglary, attempted burglary, and domestic disputes at the residence. Four months prior to the murders, 17-year-old DeShon Thomas’ mother called the Leon County Sheriff’s Non-Emergency line requesting a deputy to come to the residence—she was at the residence trying to get her son (DeShon) to return home with her. At the time of DeShon’s mother being at the residence—she had no idea that Laqecia’s mother also lived at the residence—DeShon’s mother believed that the residence was that of (then) 19-year-old Laqecia. DeShon’s mother did not approve of her 17-year-old son having a 19-year-old girlfriend—definitely not moving into her residence. When a male Leon County Sheriff Deputy arrived to meet with DeShon’s mother and DeShon—the deputy laughed with DeShon about his mother’s anger and stated that there was nothing that could be done about the situation. (Little did DeShon’s mother know that Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell has a reputation for having little to no respect for women—a behavior that is also exhibited/accepted by his male deputies.) (Within about a month—Laqecia and DeShon had broken up and DeShon was back at home.)

On January 27, 2011 as Leon County Sheriff’s detectives worked the double murder crime scene at the same address—WCTV News reported that Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell arrived at the crime scene.

Not long after detectives began their on-scene investigation, the victims’ mother and 16-year-old brother were taken to the Leon County Sheriff’s Office being questioned and processed by detectives. Both mother and brother had Gun Shot Residue Kits processed on them and several photos of their being taken by crime scene detectives. Neither mother nor brother gave incriminating statements about DeShon Thomas. The only reason why DeShon Thomas’ name was mentioned is because detectives asked the victims’ mother who was the father of Ms. Herring’s unborn baby. (At the time of the murders, it was not 100% factual that Mr. Thomas was the father.) After detectives ran DeShon Thomas’ name in their database and learned that he’s had two or three juvenile offenses regarding firearms—they immediately ran ramped. Disregarding the fact that the firearms charges were all none violent and were two year old charges—they acted on a hunch—they were hyped up! And—in “their” eyes—DeShon was the murderer.

Within 35 hours after the double homicide investigation began—detectives learned that DeShon had recently been in possession of a 9mm firearm and a Tech 9 firearm. Leon County Sheriff’s detectives didn’t immediately react to that information because they knew that those guns were not the murder weapons. It wasn’t until DeShon and his mother voluntarily came into the sheriff’s office to speak with detectives as to when DeShon’s mother actually saw firsthand a big fat dog foaming at the mouth—the dog turned out to be a Reserve Deputy by the name of Don Odham. Meanwhile, despite knowing that the victims were murdered with a .38 caliber firearm, detectives used false information to obtain Search Warrants inserting a 9mm into the documents. (Please Click on Link to read Search Warrant dated 1 27 11) SW 1 27 11

The Search Warrants were used for DeShon’s belongings and to search DeShon’s co-worker/ roommate 21-year-old Trentin Ross’ one-bedroom apartment. Immediately, Trentin Ross was fully cooperating with detectives. Nothing obtained in the search brought forth the possibility of DeShon or Mr. Ross having committed the murders. (Detectives located 5 pots of soil with marijuana stems sprouting from them in the bedroom closet of Mr. Ross.) For about two weeks, a team of veteran Leon County Sheriff’s detectives set out to get statements and try to collect evidence against DeShon—to no avail.

As Lead Detective Melinda McBride, Lt. Tim Baxter, Det. Mike Reeves and others began to conclude their investigation of DeShon having committed the murders, Reserve Deputy Don Odham claimed to have gotten a voluntarily confession from Trentin Ross on February 4, 2011. (Please Click on Link to read Reserve Deputy Don Odham’s report taken from Trentin Ross) Odham 2 4 11 Trentin

While it is in Reserve Deputy Don Odham’s report that Trentin Ross identified one of the three firearms that he’d seen in DeShon’s possession as being a .38 caliber handgun—which is the caliber that was used to murder the victims—why is it that in the Summary of Offense and Probable Cause Affidavit charging 17-year-old DeShon Thomas with Two Counts of 1st Degree Murder prepared by Reserve Deputy Don Odham—why is there no mention of the .38 caliber firearm? (Please Click on Link to read Summary of Offense and Probable Cause Affidavit) Sum of Offense 2 Cts

Furthermore, as Chief Assistant State Attorney—why then would Georgia Cappleman tell Tallahassee Democrat Reporter Amanda Curcio that the victims were murdered with DeShon Thomas’ 9mm pistol? Is the Tallahassee Democrat not a reliable source for information? Had it not been for DeShon’s mother obtaining a copy of the Leon County Discovery Report (seven months after DeShon’s arrest)—and then reading the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Firearms Laboratory Report—neither she nor DeShon probably would’ve never known that the victims were murdered with a .38 caliber firearm. In the sixteen months of supposed to have been representing DeShon Thomas’ “best” interest, DeShon’s private-paid Defense Attorney Gregory Cummings never mentioned anything to DeShon about a .38 caliber firearm. While Leon County Sheriff detectives were quick to have the victims’ family submit to a Gun Shot Residue Kit—Leon County Sheriff’s detectives did not have DeShon Thomas submit to a Gun Shot Residue Kit. In Trentin Ross’ testimony—Mr. Ross basically states that DeShon loaded the firearms into the trunk of the car and that DeShon took the guns from the trunk of the car—never does Mr. Ross state whether or not if DeShon was wearing gloves. The car Mr. Ross is referencing belonged to Mr. Ross’ girlfriend—crime scene detectives processed the car within a couple of days after the murders (before Mr. Ross spoke with Reserve Deputy Don Odham)—detectives found nothing of value. Mr. Ross’ girlfriend was given a Voice Stress Analysis Test about certain events that took place during the early morning hours on January 27, 2011 (she was at Mr. Ross apartment)—her test results showed “No Deception”. Neither DeShon Thomas nor Trentin Ross was subjected to Voice Stress Analysis Testing. As part of his sales pitch, Mr. Cummings told DeShon’s mother that he (Mr. Cummings) would schedule for DeShon to take a Lie Detector Test that would cost her (DeShon’s mother) about $500. When DeShon’s mother questioned Mr. Cummings about the admissibility of the test results—saying that she thought that the test results were not admissible—Mr. Cummings stated that they were not admissible but that it was ok for the judge to review the results. (The testing never happened.)

It eventually became clear to DeShon’s mother that there was no physical, material or circumstantial evidence against her son—and that State Prosecutor Jack Campbell was trying to build a case versus presenting a case. DeShon had no motive to want to murder—Ms. Herring or Mr. Conner. It was clear that anything and everything that could immediately exonerate DeShon was being kept confidential in some form or fashion and Mr. Cummings was doing absolutely nothing in DeShon’s “best” interest.

After firing Mr. Cummings—DeShon’s case sat dormant. DeShon’s mother—who has been his eyes and ears on an adult level—had spoken to several defense attorneys in Florida—when it was all said and done—they were left scratching their heads in regards to the details—a Headache—which of course justified their high legal fee quote—because the case was two years old—nothing had been done on the case and nothing about the case made any sense. No attorney could access any of the relevant records online—DeShon’s cell phone records were Sealed by Court Order and the victims’ autopsy reports were not made public record—which was another violation of law being committed by State Prosecutor Jack Campbell without any dispute by any of the defense attorney.

So, you see, this is how the 2nd District State Attorney’s Office has been successfully prosecuting cases—by preventing outside attorneys to access to any and all information in order to dispute their case.

On August 19, 2013 Defense Regional Counsel Daren Shippy held an Evidentiary Hearing—previously, Mr. Shippy had filed a Motion in Limine (Someone Else Committed the Offense). (Within two days of the murders, Ms. Herring had received Facebook threats against her life—in regards to money that she’d owed.) During the hearing, the three detectives that showed up—Det. McBride, Det. Dennis, and Sgt. Ganey—all basically testified that they did not see any relevance to investigate the circumstances regarding the threats. (The person that made the threat was subpoenaed to show up to the hearing—but did not show.) (Please Click on Link to read the Motion in Limine—Someone Else Committed the Offense) Motion in Limine Someone Else Committed Offense

State Prosecutor Jack Campbell basically told the court that the difference between the victim and the young lady making the threat was nothing more than bickering. State Prosecutor Jack Campbell went on to basically tell the court that the defense was “harassing” the young lady. In the end—it was left up to Defense Regional Counsel Daren Shippy to establish the connection between the young lady and the crime scene. A connection that may have been able to be presented had he (Mr. Shippy) taken DeShon and DeShon’s mother up on their offer to pay for a private investigator to assist with the defense. But of course, hiring a private investigator would’ve prevented State Prosecutor Jack Campbell from obtaining guilty verdicts against DeShon.