North Florida Judge Who Presided Over Death Penalty Case May Have Shown a Pattern of Misconduct

Tallahassee, FL—In June 2013, Second Judicial Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford, a former Assistant State Attorney for Second Judicial Circuit State Attorney Willie Meggs, abruptly began presiding over the 2011 double murder and the 2012 solicitation to commit 1st degree murder case, of DeShon Thomas.

DeShon was seventeen-years-old when he was charged with Two Counts of First Degree Murder and Possession of a Firearm by a Juvenile Delinquent in early 2011. DeShon plead Not Guilty. Second Circuit Judge James C. Hankinson, the preside judge, was a former Assistant State Attorney for Second Judicial Circuit State Attorney for Willie Meggs and a former United States Assistant Attorney for the Department of Justice for Florida’s Northern District. State Attorney Willie Meggs assigned Assistant State Attorney Jack Campbell to prosecute DeShon, whose case was in adult court. Assistant State Attorney/ Prosecutor Jack Campbell is the son of Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell. The investigation of the double murder case was under the jurisdiction of the Leon County Sheriff’s Office.

DeShon’s pre-trial had been reset at least four times within sixteen months by motions filed by State Prosecutor Jack Campbell. y DeShon’s defense attorney, Greg Cummings never objected. Circuit Judge Hankinson granted the all of the Motions for Continuances. One of the Motions for Continuance filed by State Prosecutor Jack Campbell was due to a conflict with Don Odham’s vacation plans. In the motion, State Prosecutor Jack Campbell states six reasons for the motion, the first four states: (1) The case has been set for trial for June 11, 2012. (2) An essential witness is Don Odham formerly of the Leon County Sheriff’s Office. (3) Detective Odham was the lead detective in the case and conducted numerous interviews including those with the defendant. Furthermore, he collected items of evidence. (4)Detective Odham has now left the Leon County Sheriff’s Office and has a scheduled trip with his extended family during the month of June. Extricating him from this trip will cause a significant cost to him and his family.

Don Odham did play a significant role in DeShon’s double murder case. Don Odham searched and collected evidence at the crime scene. Don Odham signed the Miranda Waiver of Trentin Ross. Don Odham wrote in a case detective report that Trentin Ross had voluntarily provided him with incriminating statements pointing to DeShon as having committed the murders.  Don Odham signed the Complaint that was notarized by Leon County Sheriff Detective Dawn Dennis. Don Odham prepared and filed a Summary of Offense for Two Counts of 1st Degree Murder and Probable Cause—State Prosecutor Jack Campbell approved the probable cause obtained the signature of County Judge Nina Ashenafi-Richarcdson in finding probable cause and issue an Arrest Warrant. Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell replaced Leon County Sheriff Detective Melinda McBride and her team of veteran detectives with Don Odham—only after Detective McBride and other detectives began following up on other possible suspects—due to no significant statements or evidence pointing to DeShon as a suspect, let alone the murderer. Don Odham violated the civil rights of DeShon and his mother the day after the victims’ were found murdered. DeShon and his mother walked into the Leon County Sheriff’s Office to give a voluntary statement. Don Odham took what was an innocent act of civility by DeShon and his mother, and turned it into a chaotic experience, fueled by racism and arrogance. Don Odham denied DeShon access to an attorney, held both DeShon and his mother against their will by locking them in an interview room, and these are just a few of the things that he did. After DeShon was charged with the murders, DeShon’s mother was not surprised to see that Don Odham was the lone-wolf driving the murder charges. However, DeShon’s mother was surprised to hear that Don Odham was never an employee with Leon County Sheriff’s Office. Don Odham was never officially “Detective Odham” as Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell and his son, State Prosecutor Jack Campbell had referred to him to the court, to the grand jury and to the public—the very people whom elected Larry Campbell to be their sheriff—to serve and protect them—Larry Campbell lied and deceived them. Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell and his son, State Prosecutor Jack Campbell blatantly lied in order to have 17-year-old, DeShon Thomas, charged with Two Counts of 1st Degree Murder and Possession of a Firearm by a Juvenile Delinquent. Don Odham was/is a wealthy businessman who was merely a friend of the Campbell’s. Don Odham owed no truths to Florida taxpayers.

DeShon’s defense attorney, Greg Cummings, did not disclose information about Don Odham to DeShon or the court. Mr. Cummings was paid nearly $30,000 of the $50,000 that he’d charged to represent DeShon. During the sixteen months that Greg Cummings was on DeShon’s case, Greg Cummings did not take any depositions or do anything to build a defense for DeShon. Mr. Cummings refused to discuss the victims’ autopsy reports with DeShon. State Prosecutor Jack Campbell refused to allow the District Two Medical Examiner’s Office to make the victims’ autopsy report public record, they were kept confidential. In August 2012 Greg Cummings was fired. Immediately following Greg Cummings firing, State Attorney Willie Meggs announced that DeShon was being charged with Solicitation to Commit 1st Degree Murder—the target was said to be Trentin Ross. The arrest warrant had been handed down by Circuit Judge James C. Hankinson. DeShon plead not guilty.

In April 2013, Regional Counsel Daren Shippy was court appointed as DeShon’s attorney. Daren Shippy immediately filed a Motion to Withdraw, but Circuit Judge James C. Hankinson denied the motion. After learning of Circuit Judge Hankinson’s previous acts of deception to the court and to DeShon, DeShon’s mother contacted Governor Rick Scott and State Attorney General Pam Bondi. Immediately, Circuit Judge Hankinson was replaced with Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford. State Prosecutor Jack Campbell and Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford had previously worked together as Assistant State Attorneys under State Attorney Willie Meggs.

During DeShon’s evidentiary hearing, State Prosecutor Jack Campbell told Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford that he had instructed State Attorney Investigator Jason Newlin to make the necessary arrangements to have DeShon charged with solicitation to commit 1st degree murder. State Attorney Jack Campbell also ordered Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford as to how to conduct court proceedings. DeShon’s court appointed attorney, Regional Counsel Daren Shippy, who is a Circuit Director under Florida’s 1st District Regional Counsel Jeffery E. Lewis, along with Lead Public Defender Nancy Daniels, stood idle and witnessed Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford accept instruction from State Prosecutor Jack Campbell.

Nearly three years after DeShon had been charged with the murders and possession of a firearm by a juvenile delinquent, and a little over a year after he’d been charged with solicitation to commit 1st degree murder, DeShon went on trial. During his trial, Regional Counsel Daren Shippy and State Prosecutor Jack Campbell presented Don Odham to the jury as a Leon County Sheriff’s Detective. Regional Counsel Daren Shippy’s malicious act of betrayal to DeShon was disgusting. Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford allowed Don Odham’s testimony to be heard before the jury. Three Leon County Sheriff’s Detectives committed perjury to cover up Don Odham’s actions. There was no physical, circumstantial or material evidence against DeShon. On October 18, 2013, it was announced that the jury had convicted DeShon on Two Counts of 1st Degree Murder and Solicitation to Commit 1st Degree Murder. (In August 2013, Regional Counsel Daren Shippy had filed a Motion to Severe the Possession of a Firearm charge.)

On December 17, 2013, after DeShon had been instructed to do so by Regional Counsel Daren Shippy, DeShon entered a plea of No Contest to the Possession of a Firearm by a Juvenile Delinquent charge. Also, on December 17, 2013, Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford sentenced DeShon to Two Life Sentences plus 30 years. DeShon was sentenced to 10 years for the Possession of a Firearm by a Juvenile Delinquent—this sentence was set to run concurrent with the others.

The victims in the murder case were twenty-year-old, Laqecia Herring, and her brother, 17-year-old, Sterling Conner Jr. At the time of Laqecia’s murder, she was five months pregnant. Laqecia and DeShon had previously dated for six weeks but had ended their relationships three months prior to the murders. Although Laqecia had told DeShon and his mother that DeShon was the father of her unborn baby, after the murders, detectives learned that Laqecia’s boyfriend at the time of her death had believed that he was the father of Laqecia’s unborn baby. The boyfriend had previously dated Laqecia for over a year before the brief break in their relationship, at which time Laqecia had dated DeShon. There were numerous of suspects that had been named by the victims’ relatives—DeShon was not one of them. Greg Cummings told both DeShon and his mother that had Laqecia been a week or two further into her pregnancy, DeShon would’ve been charged with the murder of her unborn baby (Three Counts of 1st Degree Murder). Also, if DeShon had been eighteen-years-old when the murders occurred, DeShon would’ve been facing Florida’s Death Penalty. Greg Cummings told DeShon and his mother these horrible things and then Greg Cummings preyed on DeShon and his mother (a single mother with four kids). Greg Cummings collected her money—knowing that DeShon had been falsely arrested and knowing that State Prosecutor Jack Campbell was building a double murder case and a possession of a firearm by a juvenile delinquent case against DeShon on the use of a “Fake Cop” and a bunch of lies and liars. And all of the court-appointed attorneys that followed Greg Cummings continued to play the same games.

In February 2012, Henry Segura’s attorney, Chuck Hobbs, filed a motion with the court arguing that State Prosecutor Jack Campbell be dismissed as lead prosecutor in the capital case of his client. Mr. Hobbs’ client, Henry Segura, was charged in the 2010 of the brutal quadruple murder of a twenty-seven year-old mother and her three children. Mr. Hobbs, along with other Tallahassee defense attorneys, believed it to be prejudice for State Attorney Willie Meggs to assign Assistant State Attorney Jack Campbell to prosecute cases where the defendants were being held in the Leon County Jail—the jail in which Assistant State Attorney Jack Campbell’s dad, Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell, was the overseer. (State Attorney Willie Meggs represents six counties.) At the time of Mr. Hobbs filing the motion, Circuit Judge Mark E. Walker was presiding over Mr. Segura’s case. Later that same year, in December, Circuit Judge Mark E. Walker was sworn in as a Federal Judge for United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida. State Prosecutor Jack Campbell was not removed from Mr. Segura’s case.

More than two years later, in March 2014, Mr. Hobbs filed a motion asking the court to collect and analyze DNA from a possible suspect. The presiding judge on the case was Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford. Once again, Circuit Judge Fulford and State Prosecutor Jack Campbell were working together—this time on a Death Penalty case.

A year later, in April 2015, it was announced that Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford was under investigation by the Judicial Qualifications Commission for three counts of misconduct. At least one of the counts of misconduct occurred prior to Circuit Judge Fulford having abruptly replaced Circuit Judge James C. Hankinson in the case against 17-year-old, DeShon Thomas.

On or about June 12, 2015, two months after Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford fell under investigation, Mr. Segura’s attorney, Mr. Hobbs, learned that a crime lab analyst with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), was ordered by her supervisor to disregard DNA evidence findings by the FBI in regards to DNA found at the crime scene which was a partial match to a convict already in the database. Mr. Segura’s trial, which is now being presided over by Circuit Judge Terry Lewis, has once again been postponed. Mr. Segura has been in the Leon County Jail for nearly four years awaiting trial.

Two years ago, in April 2013, State Prosecutor Jack Campbell and Defense Attorney Greg Cummings argued the case of Elijah James. In 2010, Elijah James was charged with murdering his ex-girlfriend. Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell oversaw the murder investigation. Circuit Judge James Hankinson presided over the case. Greg Cummings, who is a private attorney, is also registered with the State of Florida’s Department of General Counsel as a Conflict Attorney. Greg Cummings was court-appointed to Mr. James’ case. Mr. James’ case was considered to be a high profile case because Mr. James’ case was the first murder case in Tallahassee to be tried without a body.

According to court records, Greg Cummings was court appointed to Mr. Elijah James’ case in March 2011. Soon thereafter, Greg Cummings contacted DeShon’s mother begging her to hire him (in which was just one of many previous phone calls). Needless to say DeShon’s mother hired Greg Cummings. While Greg Cummings, along with State Prosecutor Jack Campbell and Circuit Judge James C. Hankinson were showing dotted I’s and crossed T’s in Mr. James’ case, they were performing like the Three Stooges in DeShon Thomas’ case. Reports have stated that if detectives would’ve located the body of Mr. James’ ex-girlfriend, then Mr. James’ case would’ve easily been a Death Penalty case—with or without physical evidence. Subsequently, Mr. James was found guilty of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.

The judicial structure in Tallahassee (Leon County) is terribly flawed. When a judge who has the power to sentence people to Life in Prison or to the Death Penalty (Florida’s Death Row) is being questioned about having shown a “Pattern of Misconduct”, that is highly disturbing. There’s no justice for the victims’ families or communities in Florida. We have all witnessed that wrongful convictions and innocent people being put to death only adds pain to the victims’ families, as well as the families of the wrongful convicted. Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford began to show misconduct before she was assigned to preside over DeShon Thomas’ cases and Henry Segura’s case. Now, what was the purpose of recycling this already ill-minded judge?