Tallahassee, FL—Recently, both political parties have agreed on one particular topic, the reformation of the Criminal Justice System. Some politicians have called the Criminal Justice System operating on the state level, “out of control.”
The year 2014, was a record year for the exoneration of prison inmates across the United States. One hundred and fifty exonerations were registered with the Innocence Project. Some of those prison inmates who were exonerated had spent years on Death Row waiting to be put to death. If it had not been for brave defense attorneys willing to expose gross prosecutorial misconduct and exposure of judges who violate the Constitutional Rights of defendants, then hundreds, if not thousands of innocent prison inmates would still be sitting in prison slowly dying. Prosecutors have wide discretion when it comes to prosecuting cases and sentencing guidelines. There are a lot of plea deals that occur on cases that may not always be beneficial to the defendant.
For instances, a defendant who is offered a plea deal, just because the prosecutor has the “power to do so,” does not benefit the defendant. A defendant who commits a heinous crime may need mental health treatment more than just a plea deal. And a defendant who is denied the full ability to exercise his/her Constitutional Rights during their judicial proceedings—a guilty verdict is not justifiable—and does not bring about justice to the victims family. Wrongful convictions occur mainly because of prosecutorial misconduct on the basis that the prosecutor was not transparent during judicial proceedings. Just the thought of being a juror on a case where you convicted an innocent man to a life sentence or a death sentence is disheartening. So now who is to blame? Jurors can only rely on the sources that they received during the judicial proceedings. Most jurors believe that it is mandatory for prosecutors to be transparent during trial. How would you feel if you open up a newspaper or tuned in to the evening news and learned that a man or woman who spent ten years in prison was wrongly convicted? And then you saw that the man or woman was the defendant in the case that you served on a juror and you voted guilty? Now, how would you feel? Your immediate thought would probably be who lied to you or what information was withheld from you and your fellow jurors?
The New York Times and TV One are regarded as creditable media sources. They both have thousands, if not millions of faithful subscribers and viewers. As being regarded as creditable media sources, their subscribers and viewers trust them to be transparent in their reporting. Of course there is not a media source that reports on a 360 degree spin, but there’s no need to intentionally “dupe” your audience in to believing that reports are truthful to the best of their knowledge knowing that they’re not. Everyone knows that the opinion of the American people is strong! There are not very many creditable media sources still in existence. So for media source with such a far wide and vast audience—why chose to withhold anything? Especially when the reporting is seeking opinions from subscribers and viewers.
On January 4, 2013, The New York Times Magazine published an article by Paul Tullis titled, “Can Forgiveness Play a Role in Criminal Justice?” The article of the event happened in Tallahassee, Florida. Eighteen-year-old Ann Grosmaire’s parent ability to immediately forgive the murderer of their daughter and the impact their forgiveness played in the judicial proceedings of her murderer. In March 2010, the murderer, nineteen-year-old, Conor McBride, walked into the Tallahassee Police Department and confessed to using a shotgun to shoot his girlfriend, Ann Grosmaire. Conor told officers that prior to shooting Ann in the head, the two of them had been arguing. When the police went to Conor McBride’s parent home, where the shooting occurred, the police found Ann lying on the floor, she was barely alive. Ann’s parents kept her on life support. Meanwhile, as Ann was in the hospital without a brain in her head, Ann’s mother went to visit Conor at the Leon County Jail. Assuming the shooting was accidental, Ann’s parents immediately forgave Conor. After Ann was removed from life support, naturally she passed away (one cannot live on their own without a brain). Unnaturally, in an effort to ensure that Conor received a second chance in life, Ann’s parents quickly teamed up with Conor’s parents, as well as Greg Cummings (Conor’s attorney) and the Second Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office led by State Attorney Willie Meggs. As he often did with most high profile cases, State Attorney Willie Meggs assigned Conor’s case to Assistant State Attorney Jack Campbell to prosecute. State Prosecutor Jack Campbell informed Ann’s parent that he could reduce charges and seek alternative sentences—possibly five years for manslaughter. State Prosecutor Jack Campbell made arrangements for Conor, who was in the Leon County Jail, to have a physical contact meeting with his parents and Ann’s parents. Ann’s mother was allowed to bring a large framed photo of Ann (the photo was supposed to represent Ann’s presence). A woman named Sujatha Baliga, was flown in from California. Ms. Baliga, a former public defender who specializes in restorative-justice, was brought in by Ann’s parents to moderate the meeting. It wasn’t until the writing was on the wall (during that particular meeting) as to when Ann’s parents learned that Conor’s actions were not accidental—yet, very much so intentional. Ann’s parents learned about things that Conor’s parents, Greg Cummings, and State Prosecutor Jack Campbell had known all along—Conor had a bad temper, and Conor had a history of physically and mentally abusing their daughter, Ann. Never did Conor’s parents inform Ann’s parents about the abuse. When Ann was alive, she hid the abuse from her own parents—who apparently loved Conor as if he were Ann’s husband. State Prosecutor Jack Campbell was not transparent with Ann’s family. Ann’s dad, who was studying to be a Deacon, had been out rallying members of his church and the community to embrace their understanding and reasoning for forgiving Conor and wanting Conor to have a second chance at life. All of those speeches that Ann’s dad gave—and all the while Ann’s family was in the dark about how their daughter cried and begged for her life, before Conor, the boy with a bad temper, pointed the barrel of the shotgun to her face and pulled the trigger. What was Ann’s parent to do, now? State Prosecutor Jack Campbell offered Conor 20 years in prison plus 10 years probation. Conor accepted the plea deal. Conor McBride, the teenager who blew his girlfriend’s brains out in cold blood with a shotgun, will be back in society before age forty.
The article, “Can Forgiveness Play a Role in Criminal Justice?” was popular! There were over 475 comments online. There were several comments from victims of domestic violence denouncing Conor’s sentence and the role “Forgiveness” played in Conor’s judicial proceedings—giving him a second chance at life, despite having taken Ann’s life. Conor was not a juvenile. Conor was an adult who was fully aware of his heinous crime and its consequences. On January 7, 2013, the parents of Anne Grosmaire appeared on the Today Show. Ann’s dad, who was studying to become a Deacon, stood by his forgiveness, but appeared to be struggling with the lost of Ann.
On Monday, July 20, 2015, TV One aired an episode of their hit show Fatal Attraction: ‘Crippled By Blood.’ The episode is about events set in Tallahassee, Florida. Full-time Tallahassee Community College freshman, seventeen-year-old, DeShon Thomas, who was convicted of the January 2011 murders of his pregnant ex-girlfriend, 20-year-old, Laqecia Herring and her 17-year-old brother, Sterling Conner Jr. The episode sums up the murders as an “unthinkable tragedy.” DeShon, who also worked nearly forty hours a week at Taco Bell, was at work texting Laqecia asking Laqecia about threats on her life that he’d seen on Facebook. Laqecia had ended the relationship with DeShon months earlier, but they remained friends. DeShon understood that a threat to Laqecia’s life was a threat to his unborn child’s life. In the text message exchange, DeShon asked Laqecia about her brother, Sterling. A month after DeShon was charged with the murders, in March 2011, while waiting to be assigned an attorney, DeShon was charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Juvenile Delinquent. And then in August 2012, while still in the Leon County Jail awaiting trial, DeShon was charged with Solicitation to Commit 1st Degree Murder—informing that DeShon was a Blood gang member. Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell was the lead investigating agency over the cases. DeShon pled not guilty to all charges. The Fatal Attraction show does not feature anyone directly representing the Leon County Sheriff’s Office. There are two employees with the Second Judicial State Attorney’s Office (State Attorney Willie Meggs’ Office)—and those two are Assistant State Attorney/Prosecutor Jack Campbell and State Attorney Investigator Jason Newlin. Don Odham, a “Pay-to-Play Cop, is shown in the interrogation room with the key witness. What is not depicted in the show is the corruption that riddled DeShon’s judicial process. Several of DeShon’s defense attorneys, both private and court appointed attorney, deliberately withheld exculpatory evidence. There were two Second Circuit Judges who denied DeShon his Constitutional Rights and so on and so forth.
Media sources, such as the New York Times and TV One, really should be more responsible when it comes to their reporting. State Prosecutor Jack Campbell, who is highlighted in both18-year-old, Ann Grosmaire’s gruesome murder case and 17-year-old, DeShon Thomas’ wrongful conviction case had a connection that probably no one else in a State Attorney’s Office has—and that is exclusive access to the Leon County Jail and power over the entire Leon County Judicial System, including the judges. The average citizen, the average reader, the average subscriber, the average viewer, was never told that Assistant State Attorney Jack Campbell is the son of Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell.
In the case of Ann Grosmaire, “forgiveness” is for the family. The judicial system, when laws are applied properly, is to deliver justice—not just to the victim’s family but to American citizens. Conor’s cold-blooded murdering mindset is within. Conor did not accept the plea deal because he was remorseful for having murdered Ann—Conor accepted the plea deal because Ann’s parents were forgiving him for having murdered Ann. If State Prosecutor Jack Campbell was not the son of Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell, the meeting that occurred at the Leon County Jail would’ve never happened. All jail facility security protocol was breached in order for that meeting to occur in a private room within the Leon County Jail. It is completely against the Standard Operation of Procedures in all jails across the United States for an accused murderer to have a contact visit with his victim’s family, let alone the murder’s family. During the meeting, Conor’s mother and father were able to hug and kiss their son. Ann’s parents will never hug and kiss their daughter on this earth again. No wedding, no grandkids—they have nothing but a framed picture and memories. In the state of Florida, it is the responsibility of the county’s sheriff to oversee jail operations. Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell allowing that meeting to occur at the Leon County Jail was done as a favor to his son, State Prosecutor Jack Campbell—to build up Jack Campbell’s ego, his career and get Jack Campbell notoriety i.e. The New York Times article, “Can Forgiveness Play a Role in Criminal Justice.”
In the case of DeShon Thomas, Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell and his son, State Prosecutor Jack Campbell utilized a close family friend named Don Odham, to conspire against DeShon. Don Odham, a “Pay-to-Play Cop,” replaced Lead Detective Melinda McBride and her team of veteran detectives to work the double homicide case. Don Odham, who was referred to as “Leon County Sheriff Detective Don Odham,” was never an employee with the Leon County Sheriff’s Office. However, there are numerous legal documents, including probable cause reports, a formal complaint, along with information that had been presented to the grand jury referring to Don Odham as “Leon County Sheriff Detective Don Odham.” In the Fatal Attraction show, Don Odham is shown in the room with Tom (Trentin Ross) the key witness against DeShon. Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell as the investigating agency on the double homicide case and his son, State Prosecutor Jack Campbell prosecuting the case is surely bias. The jury was not made aware of the fact that State Prosecutor Jack Campbell’s dad was the signor on the paycheck of every Leon County Sheriff’s Office employee who provided witness testimony. Very few people may care about Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell and his son State Prosecutor Jack Campbell’s big ego in little ol’ Tallahassee. But everyone knows that if in fact, there was enough evidence to convict DeShon of the crimes in which he has now been convicted then there would be no use for a “Play-to-Pay Cop”. In the Fatal Attraction show, Trentin Ross is seen grasping his chest stating that he is about to have a “heart attack.” Instead of detectives rendering aid or contacting EMT, they continue to pressure him—“Bully” him. Trentin Ross’ incriminating statements are false.
DeShon’s mother, who has spent the majority of her life championing for children and young adults to be treated fair and with respect, will continue to support her son. Neither DeShon nor his family will allow any print, online or T.V reporting or dramatic show to hinder their pursuit for justice.
The New York Times and TV One are just media sources—creditable media sources…?