Families of Black Children and Non-White Children Struggle to Get Equal Justice in Florida Courts

Tallahassee, FL—Three weeks after the start of the 2013 school year in Leon County, seventeen-year-old, Robert “Bobby” Butler Jr., was inside his home with 16-year-old, Logan Murphy. Bobby’s parents may have had no concerns about Logan’s presence at their home after 9 p.m. because like Bobby, they may have considered Logan to be a “friend.” It’s possible that nothing seemed unusual that night. According to the Butler’s neighbors, the Butler’s home was a peaceful home. Until around 9:30 p.m. when Bobby and Logan’s friendship turned violent—Logan shot Bobby. News sources reported both Leon County Emergency Medical Transport and the Leon County Sheriff’s Office Violent Crime and Crime Scene Detectives arrived at the Butler’s residence. Shortly after being shot, on Saturday, September 21, 2013, Robert “Bobby” Butler was pronounced dead. Despite many witness statements from those in the Butler’s home, and the recovery of a gun that Logan had brought into their home—to kill Bobby, detectives did not make an arrest.

Seven weeks past before the Leon County Sheriff’s Office, under Sheriff Larry Campbell, announced the arrest of 16-year-old, Logan Murphy, a White male, for the shooting death of 17-year-old, Robert Butler, a Black male. Second Judicial Circuit State Attorney Willie Meggs assigned Chief Prosecutor Jack Campbell, the son of Sheriff Larry Campbell, to prosecute Logan Murphy for manslaughter.


On Saturday, October 15, 2016, two weeks before Halloween, 15-year-old, Roger Trindade, a Brazilian native, was out in a public upscale park located on Park Avenue in downtown Winter Park, Florida, when a group of teens jumped him—knocking him unconscious. According to reports, Roger was transported to the hospital where he was put on life support. Days later, Roger’s family made a painful and heartbreaking decision to have Roger removed from life support. Meanwhile, Winter Park Police conducted their investigation.

Nearly eight weeks after Roger Trindade was jumped, three teenagers were arrested with two of them being charged with manslaughter. The identities of the teenagers have not been released. Currently, two of the teenagers are in a juvenile facility awaiting trial.


Justice Denied

The parents of Robert “Bobby” Butler continue to suffer from the lost of their son. Chief Prosecutor Jack Campbell and Logan Murphy’s attorney worked out a plea deal where Logan was allowed to enter a plea to manslaughter in exchange for adjudication to be withheld, and serve up to 3 years in a juvenile detention facility followed by 15 years probation—bottom line Logan Murphy will not be a convicted felon after having committed such a heinous crime.

On the morning of January 27, 2011, Ms. Tracy Bush, a single Black woman and mother of seventeen-year-old, Sterling Conner Jr. and 20-year-old, Laqecia Herring, returned home from a night out only to find both her children murdered. Alone in the home, and alive, was Laqecia Herring’s toddler daughter. The Leon County Sheriff’s Violent Crime and Crime Scene detectives arrived at the scene, but not the District Two Medical Examiner’s Office. Detectives learned through Ms. Bush that Ms. Herring was also pregnant and had been receiving death threats on her Facebook page just days earlier about money Ms. Herring owed. Also, the family informed detectives of Sterling Conner Jr. being involved in some drug dealings involving fake money. Despite having creditable witness statements, Laqecia Herring’s cell phone usage, and other crime scene evidence that narrowed down the victims’ highly likely time of death to having occurred on January 26, 2011, the District Two Medical Examiner’s Office recorded Sterling Conner Jr. and Laqecia Herring’s death as January 27, 2011 because this date was sufficient to fit into Leon County Sheriff’s Office assumption that seventeen-year-old, DeShon Thomas, murdered both victims after getting off from work at 1:30 a.m. on the morning of January 27, 2011.

Dr. Anthony J. Clark, Medical Examiner Associate with the District Two Medical Examiner’s Office, testified to all of his credentials, including having attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology, however, failed to give a day or time of death. Sheriff Larry Campbell and his son, Chief Prosecutor Jack Campbell’s assumption that DeShon Thomas murdered Laqecia Herring, who was his pregnant ex-girlfriend, because DeShon did not want to pay child support, is ridiculous! Both DeShon and his mother are very well aware that a paternity lawsuit for child support of an adult woman cannot be brought about upon a minor male child. DeShon, himself was a child. DeShon’s dad was paying DeShon’s mother child support for DeShon. DeShon’s mother told detectives that DeShon was innocent, and begged detectives to investigate all leads. But after a heated exchange of words between DeShon’s mother and “Leon County Sheriff’s Violent Crime Detective” Don Odham—it was clear that there was more to come—and for the most part it was no longer about DeShon’s guilt or innocence. Neither was it about getting justice for Sterling Conner Jr. or Laqecia Herring or her unborn baby.

The Leon County Sheriff’s Office chose to take a more sinister path—an evil path. A path that no mother or father of any child should find themselves on regardless whether or not their child is the victim or the accused defendant. Lawyers are a part of The Florida Bar. The Florida Bar advertises as a professional organization of lawyers and is responsible for accepting “complaints against attorneys, investigate those complaints and prosecutes attorneys who engage in unethical conduct.”  The Florida Bar and the Judicial Qualifications Commission regulate judges. Families of Black children and Non-White children should not have to struggle to get equal justice in Florida courts when there are mechanisms in place to protect Florida’s children.