Dear White Florida Taxpayers:
I’m sure you all can relate when I say that I’d rather have someone tell me the truth about how my hard earned money is being spent than LIE to me and spend my hard earned money carelessly and recklessly. Now, I don’t know about you, but for me—when I loan money to someone and they don’t pay me back—I don’t just see it as that person not just paying me back—I’m a single mother of four—my finances are not just about a single effect on me—it’s an effect on my whole household—so when that person doesn’t pay me—then that person is telling me that they don’t care about the welfare of me or my family. And that’s not cool at all! Especially, especially when I cared enough to loan the money out instead of immediately spending it on my family toward dinner and a movie.
Having said that—let me introduce myself, my name is Carissa Chambers and I am the proud mother of DeShon Rashard Thomas. My family and I are from Orlando. We lived in Tallahassee full-time from April 2001 until December 2010 (and then part-time until April 2012).
On October 18, 2013 it was announced that my son DeShon was found guilty for Two Counts of 1st Degree Murder and Solicitation to Commit 1st Degree Murder. The Two Counts of 1st Degree Murder stemmed from the January 27, 2011 double homicide investigation under the jurisdiction of the Leon County Sheriff’s Office. And the Solicitation to Commit 1st Degree Murder was brought about in August 2012 while DeShon had been in the Leon County Jail for over a year and half—where DeShon had been accused of hiring a Leon County Jail inmate as a “Hit Man” to take out Trentin Ross (DeShon’s former co-worker/roommate) who, according to Leon County Sheriff Detective Don Odham’s report, in essence stated that on February 4, 2011 twenty-one year-old Mr. Ross voluntarily came into the Leon County Sheriff’s Office and told him (Det. Odham) that he and 17-year-old DeShon left his (Mr. Ross’) apartment with guns in the trunk of Mr. Ross’ girlfriend’s car, Mr. Ross then drove DeShon to the victims’ residence, heard two gunshots, received a text message from DeShon telling him to let him know when it was clear for him to come across Highway 20, text DeShon an all clear of Highway 20, then drove DeShon to dispose of the firearm at the Family Dollar within walking distance of the victims’ residence, and then returned to his apartment. After Detective Don Odham took this report, Mr. Ross, who had pending drug charges, was free to go about his life—without facing any charges in connection with the murders or being charged for admitting to smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol with a minor or any violation of 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. While DeShon had been living with Mr. Ross for about seven weeks—DeShon did not have my support nor did he have my permission. Mr. Ross never contacted to me get any type of permission to take on the responsibility of DeShon. When DeShon moved in with Mr. Ross, Mr. Ross’ had no working electricity—DeShon offered to pay Mr. Ross’ outstanding electrical bill in exchange for allowing him to sleep on the couch—Mr. Ross accepted DeShon’s offer. At that point, Mr. Ross became the adult responsible for DeShon’s welfare.
Anyway, so after it was announced on the Internet that DeShon was found guilty, some of you (White taxpayers) took to the Internet to express your frustrations about how you’re sick and tired of paying the legal cost for N-Word (explicit), monkeys, Black animals, thugs, gang members, hood scum, welfare babies, low-lifes—just about every derogatory word that most you use when a young Black male is accused or found guilty of committing crimes. (In the days leading up to DeShon’s trial, on October 9, 2013 WCTV news report Julie Montanaro posted a piece titled, ‘Proposed Law Could Charge for Death Of Unborn During Crime.’ In the piece Ms. Montanaro speaks with Rep. Larry Ahern (District 66 St. Petersburg) and Rep. Kelli Stargel (District 64 Lakeland) in part about criminals being held accountable for the deaths of unborn babies. On WCTV website (above the article text) there is a sonogram photo of a fetus. While it is unclear if the sonogram photo of the unborn fetus is that of Laqecia Herring’s (the pregnant victim), the piece references Laqecia Herring as DeShon’s girlfriend—when the truth of the matter is that at the time of Ms. Herring and her brother’s murder, Ms. Herring and DeShon were not in a relationship—they were friends. Twenty-year-old Laqecia Herring, pregnant and already the mother of a toddler daughter had ended the 6 weeks relationship with 17-year-old DeShon three months prior to the murders. In which Ms. Herring rekindled the relationship between she and the 21-year-old boyfriend whom she’d been dating for over a year prior to their temporary split—in which she dated DeShon. The day the victims were found murdered, Leon County Sheriff’s Detectives focused all of their attention and resources on DeShon. Leon County Sheriff’s Detectives did not interview Ms. Herring’s boyfriend until three days after the victims were found murdered. At which time the boyfriend told detectives that he believed that he was the father of Ms. Herring’s unborn baby. And that he and Ms. Herring had a falling out a couple of days before the victims’ were found murdered because he found out that Ms. Herring had been communicating with DeShon. (DeShon had a new girlfriend.))
So now after WCTV ran their piece, you are saying that DeShon should be held responsible for three murders instead of two—and you’re calling DeShon a “Baby Killer” along with other brutal derogatory names. And you know, honestly, as a Black woman and as a mother—I was not angry toward you by any of the derogatory names you called my son or was I upset by the WCTV news piece. As far as WCTV is concerned…whatever! But as far as you are concerned—welcome to the club! Because White people—you’re victims of Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell and State Attorney Willie Meggs. You’ve been used and abused! You’ve given your support to elected leaders who don’t give a “Rat’s Ass” about you or your family. Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell and State Attorney Willie Meggs have taken your hard earned money and have no intentions on paying you back! So what I’m telling you today is that while you took to the Internet to exercise your Right to Freedom of Speech, what you don’t know is that before DeShon was charged with the murders, Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell and State Attorney Willie Meggs had trampled on DeShon’s Rights.
As a responsible parent, the day after the victims were found murdered, I took DeShon to the Leon County Sheriff’s Office to give a statement. (DeShon was a freshman at Tallahassee Community College and worked at least 35 hours a week at Taco Bell—DeShon had no reason what-so-ever to want the victims murdered.) When DeShon and I arrived at the Leon County Sheriff’s Office a man that we came to know as, “Detective Don Odham” shut me completely out to accompany DeShon. When I invoked DeShon’s Miranda Rights—I was completely ignored and DeShon was taken away. During our time at the Leon County Sheriff’s Office, “Detective Don Odham” treated DeShon and I as if it pre-Civil Rights Movement. I myself was in my late thirties—my generation was raised aware of race equality. “Detective Don Odham” appeared to be an old man of the pre- Civil Rights era—he reminded me of a KKK leader, so naturally, I was afraid of him and what he was going to do to me and DeShon. The other detectives in the area of the Interview Room seemed to fear “Detective Don Odham” as well. When “Detective Don Odham” became angry with me, he kicked me out of the Leon County Sheriff’s Office and forced DeShon to stay. As “Detective Don Odham” and I walked down the stairwell, he used more racist vulgar toward me. I told “Detective Don Odham” that if my son is charged with the murders, without them thoroughly investigating the case, then they would be making a “Huge” mistake. “Detective Don Odham” continued on with his racist rant—he even voiced his anger with me for wanting an attorney for my son. When “Detective Don Odham” and I got to the double glass doors leading out to the parking lot, as I passed by “Detective Don Odham,” he spat in my hair. Instinctively I knew that I couldn’t react the way that I wanted to react because I would’ve been arrested—which is what “Detective Don Odham” seemed to want—to make an arrest. I continued on walking out to my vehicle. (that ordeal lasted 7 hours) A few hours later, I was received a call from the Juvenile Assessment Center to come pick up DeShon. Now all of that disrespect and drama that “Detective Don Odham” had taken DeShon and I through and there was no charge/hold or anything connecting DeShon to the murders.
(Here’s where you join my team)
On February 7, 2011 Leon County Sheriff Detective Don Odham prepared a Summary of Offense and Probable Cause for Two Counts of 1st Degree Murder charging DeShon with the murders supposedly based on what Mr. Ross had claimed (as I stated earlier). Now, Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell and his son State Prosecutor Jack Campbell along with State Attorney Willie Meggs presented “Detective Don Odham” to Leon County Judge Nina Ashenafi-Richardson as a Leon County Sheriff’s Detective—when in fact, Don Odham was not even on the Leon County Sheriff’s Office payroll. Don Odham did not have the experience or the credentials to be a detective. Don Odham was presented to Judge Ashenafi-Richardson when he wasn’t the lead detective on the case at all. Full-time Certified veteran Leon County Sheriff Detective Melinda McBride was the lead detective on the case. Lead Det. McBride, with the assistance of Lt. Tim Baxter and other full-time Certified veteran detectives and deputies had been actively and aggressively investigating the case. Lead Det. McBride and others had began to conclude their investigation of DeShon—without sufficient Probable Cause for an arrest—when “Detective Don Odham” came with his claim of Trentin Ross voluntarily coming into the Leon County Sheriff’s Office.
Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell and his son State Prosecutor Jack Campbell along with State Attorney Willie Meggs built on Don Odham’s unauthorized act of deception. At the time Don Odham claimed to have interacted with Mr. Ross, Don Odham was a Reserve Deputy. A former Leon County Sheriff’s Deputy stated that Don Odham was a close, wealthy friend of the Campbell family. Clearly, Don Odham was not going to miss any meals for violating the Rights of citizens—which is why he was so comfortable with being so racist with DeShon and I. However, there was a possibility of Don Odham losing his position as a Reserve Deputy once the dust settled for his racist vulgar and disgusting acts toward DeShon and me. As well as a possible lawsuit against the Leon County Sheriff’s Office for allowing a Reserve Deputy to act out in such a manner and to go even further and allow a Reserve Deputy to deny a 17-year-old access to an attorney. Personally, I’ve seen people in the work environment put up an argument for not being given a private office than any of the Leon County Sheriff’s Office personnel spoke up when Don Odham was being racist toward DeShon and me. According to the manual for Reserve Deputies, Reserve Deputies are to act under full-time Certified Deputies not above Certified full-time Deputies. Also, the manual states that Reserve Deputies primary focus is patrol. A Bureau Chief for Reserve Deputies stated that Reserve Deputies are not to be assigned as Lead Detectives—which is contrary to what Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell allowed Don Odham to do. According to Don Odham and several other detective reports, Don Odham took part in processing inside of the crime scene.
As far as money is concern—when it came to DeShon’s legal expenses—after several episodes of what seemed to be confusion between the Leon County Clerk of Courts and the Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel’s Office in regards to court-appointed representation, I took all of my savings and handed it over to Tallahassee Criminal Defense Attorney Gregory Cummings. Mr. Cummings promised to file the necessary documents to have the victims’ autopsy reports made public record or at the least available to Deshon. Mr. Cummings promised to UnSeal DeShon’s cell phone records—in which Leon County Sheriff’s Office had them Sealed. Mr. Cummings stated that he’d get Trentin Ross’ deposition. None of those things happened. I paid Mr. Cummings $29850 of the $50000 that he was charging to represent DeShon—after sixteen months—DeShon’s case had gone nowhere. I realized that I was paying Mr. Cummings while Mr. Cummings was acting as a co-conspirator to have DeShon convicted. I filed a complaint with The Florida Bar against Mr. Cummings. DeShon and I fired Mr. Cummings. Because Mr. Cummings had stolen our money, I could not immediately afford an attorney. That’s when DeShon’s case defaulted back to the courts to be assigned counsel. To further take money from you, Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell and his son State Prosecutor Jack Campbell along with State Attorney Willie Meggs had DeShon thrown into solitary confinement on the same day Mr. Cummings filed his Motion to Withdraw (clearly this was an act of retaliation). DeShon could no longer have visitation or make phone calls. C ircuit Judge James C. Hankinson, a former employee of State Attorney Willie Meggs had signed the Probable Cause and an Arrest Warrant Charging DeShon with Solicitation to Commit 1st Degree Murder with the target being Trentin Ross.
In August 2012 State Attorney Willie Meggs stated that DeShon (then 19-years-old) had solicited 29-year-old Dawuan Williams as the “Hit Man” to murder Trentin Ross. State Attorney Willie Meggs had you believing that Dawuan Williams had been arrested for his role in the solicitation—when in fact, Mr. Williams had not been arrested. Mr. Williams had been out of the Leon County Jail for well over a month and was being financially supported by the Leon County Sheriff’s Office and the State Attorney’s Office. State Prosecutor Jack Campbell had hatched a scheme to try to get DeShon to ask Mr. Williams to murder Mr. Ross. Mr. Williams of course was all “Gung-ho” to help. Mr. Williams had already been convicted and had served time in a Florida Prison. At the time Mr. Williams had agreed to help State Prosecutor Jack Campbell and State Attorney Investigator Jason Newlin, Mr. Williams had been brought to the Leon County Jail after being captured in Tifton, Georgia by the Tifton County Sheriff’s Office and the Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force on two outstanding warrants out of Tallahassee for Armed Bank Robbery. So the man (Mr. Williams), who’d robbed two banks that held Tallahassee citizens money, was being financially supported by the man (the Judicial System). (Wow!)
(FYI: While Mr. Williams was out of jail, he was arrested in another Florida county for Armed Home Invasion Robbery with Kidnapping, Assault with a Deadly Weapon, Forgery and a slew of other charges. It wasn’t until Mr. Williams landed into another county jail as to when Mr. Williams’ became wanted by Leon County Judicial authorities went after him.)
After DeShon fired Mr. Cummings, DeShon’s case ended up being represented by the Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel’s Office—where Regional Counsel Samuel Olmstead was assigned to the case. DeShon and I offered to pay for a private investigator to assist Samuel Olmstead with the case. Samuel Olmstead never responded. From August 2012 until late January 2013 (about 5 months), DeShon’s case had not budged in the Judicial System. I’d received a letter from The Florida Bar in response to my complaint against Mr. Cummings—The Florida Bar stated that Mr. Cummings had NOT violated any of their rules. (Whoa! What a blow! I don’t know any consumer who would shop at a place where if the product that they purchased Did Not work properly—then they could not get a refund or at least store credit. The Florida Bar cautioned me with seeking another private attorney in Tallahassee. However, it was very expensive for me and my family to pay for an attorney outside of Tallahassee. (Yeah, The Florida Bar’s response was a “Huge” disappointment for me as a mother, as a consumer and just as an American citizen. I’d shopped DeShon’s case to other attorneys around Florida enough to know that Mr. Cummings had in fact violated Bar rules, so… Even those with the Florida Innocence Project were surprised with The Florida Bar’s response.)
In late January 2013 DeShon filed Pro Se (again to get his case process through the Judicial System and to save Taxpayers money—I mean everybody in the Judicial System was getting paid by the Taxpayers—but nobody in the Judicial System was doing their job effectively. I wrote Governor Rick Scott, Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to inform them of the government waste—but to no avail. I mean now that I’m looking back on it I see why Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll couldn’t act on DeShon’s case—one who has a dirty closet has to keep a low profile. So Governor Rick Scott and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi stated that they could not get involved in on-going criminal case. So then I asked Governor Rick Scott to appoint a special prosecutor to the case—it was obvious that the reason for DeShon’s case being stagnant was because DeShon’s defense attorneys—both private paid and court-appointed—were being “Bullied” by State Prosecutor Jack Campbell. Governor Rick Scott declined.
In mid-February 2013 less than a month away from DeShon’s fifth rescheduled trial date, DeShon went before Circuit Judge James C. Hankinson to address his Pro Se filing (Faretta Hearing). Regional Counsel Samuel Olmstead did not appear in court—instead another attorney from the Regional Counsel’s Office appeared in court. The attorney announced that Samuel Olmstead was resigning from the Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel’s Office effective March 1, 2013. The attorney announced that Mr. Olmstead’s supervisor, Daren Shippy, would be handling DeShon’s case. With that news, DeShon withdrew his Pro Se filing—and again put his belief that the Judicial System would get together and present the evidence that would exonerate him. DeShon had been in the Leon County Jail for over two years—still in solitary confinement—still not allowed to have visitors or make phone calls.
In March 2013, Regional Counsel Daren Shippy immediately filed a Motion to Withdraw. Circuit Judge James C. Hankinson, who’d been presiding over DeShon’s case since February 2011, denied Mr. Shippy’s motion. (Mr. Shippy was the forth court appointed attorney on DeShon’s case.) Things were becoming clearer—Judge James C. Hankinson was conspiring with State Prosecutor Jack Campbell to ensure DeShon’s conviction. The only way DeShon could be convicted is if his defense attorney failed to present a proper defense. I don’t know of anybody in today’s time who would willingly participate in the wrongful conviction of a teenager. However, I do know that a favor is a favor. A promise is a promise. And all of those involved in the Judicial System have a long work history together—there’s no telling of what is owed out to whom and for what reason. As I looked into DeShon’s file at the Leon County Clerk of Courts, I saw where State Prosecutor Jack Campbell was not only running the operations out of the Leon County Jail, but was possibly running Circuit Judge Hankinson. There was a Motion for a Continuance that State Prosecutor Jack Campbell has signed. (Please Click Link) Motion for Continuance
The Order for the Motion was granted—however, Circuit Judge Hankinson’s signature was not on the Order. (Please Click Link) Order Continuance
I wrote Governor Rick Scott informing him of how Circuit Judge Hankinson had been violating DeShon’s Civil Rights. At DeShon’s next court date, DeShon had another judge presiding over his case. The judge, Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford. Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford started on a clean slate. But because people had warned me about the attitude of incoming judges based on complaining defendant (or in DeShon’s case—complaining family members about the handling of another judge (their “Colleague”) then I shouldn’t expect much difference from a new judge.) And boy—I tell ya—they were right! Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford had also worked for State Attorney Willie Meggs. State Prosecutor Jack Campbell was so bold and comfortable with running the courtroom he easily ran Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford’s courtroom—even telling her who to appoint as court appointed counsel for one of his witnesses (Please Click Link)
Circuit Judge Fulford had only been assigned to preside over DeShon’s case four months prior to DeShon’s October trial. Regional Counsel Daren Shippy had been assigned to DeShon’s case seven months prior to DeShon’s October trial. (When Mr. Shippy’s Motion to Withdraw was denied, Mr. Shippy told DeShon that no work had been done on his case.) Like DeShon and I had done with the other attorneys, we offered to pay for a private investigator to assist Mr. Shippy on DeShon’s case—again—to no avail.
Although I forged on with trying to hire another attorney for DeShon—I’d been told that in small towns like Tallahassee, local judges do not favor attorneys outside of their circuit. Besides, attorneys had smelled the stench all over DeShon’s case and it smelled Loud and Foul!
DeShon’s trial was the same! Perjury! (criminal offense) Ridiculous! And out-right Evil! All funded with your tax money!
So if you choose to continue to show Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell and his son State Prosecutor Jack Campbell and State Attorney Willie Meggs and the LIES that they’ve told and the Circus that they’ve caused in your community—then just know—they’re not treating you any different than they’ve treated that N-Word (explicit), that thug, that welfare baby, that “Baby Killer” and all of the other derogatory names that you have called my son. Also know—that it’s your money that’s funding my son’s incarceration. And it’s also your money that’s funding the Campbell’s, the Meggs’, and all of those who committed Perjury to go on those vacations that you probably can’t afford to take with your family. Don Odham—definitely didn’t put his family vacation on hold—he didn’t have to because he’s wealthy, and he didn’t owe Taxpayers a dime or his time—he wasn’t on the Leon County Sheriff’s Office payroll. If Taxpayers are going to allow Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell and his son State Prosecutor Jack Campbell along with State Attorney Willie Meggs to LIE to the Courts—then why should he hold up his family life. DeShon’s conviction wasn’t going to make or break Don Odham–whose entire family vacations in the Bahamas’ Green Turtle. (Please Click Link) Don Odham Vacation
DeShon’s conviction was going to make Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell, his son State Prosecutor Jack Campbell and State Attorney Willie Meggs. And they knew that DeShon’s Wrongful conviction was/is going to break them.
My son did not commit the crimes that he’s incarcerated for committing. My son did not LIE to you. Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell and his son State Prosecutor Jack Campbell along with State Attorney Willie Meggs LIED to the Courts—and they LIED to you. Governor Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi failed to protect US from their LIES. (Hmm, I wonder why?)
So the next time you take to the Internet to exercise your Constitutional Right—you may want to take a minute and think about if that person that you’re criticizing had the Right to exercise their Constitutional Right as well. Ask yourself—what makes you so special that you’re always in a position to exercise your Rights without any interference? Also, keep in mind that Black people and other races pay taxes as well. Now you know–You’re Welcome! As Taxpayers let’s put those in office who are going to value our vote and work hard to bring our communities together versus those who are going steal our children, LIE to us, disrespect our hard earned money and divide our communities.