Tallahassee, FL— Two and a half years after the non-profit Massachusetts based organization, RepresentUs, helped sail the City of Tallahassee into becoming the nation’s first city to pass the American Anti-Corruption Act, trouble is still brewing. There was an article published on the website of the Huffington Post titled, “Tallahassee Voters Said No To Big Money, Corruption In City Politics.” Now, today, it appears as though ‘Big Money’ continues to fuel government—especially inside of the Leon County Courthouse.
Former Leon County Clerk of Courts and Comptroller Bob Inzer served the Tallahassee community from 2001 until December 2016. (He did not seek re-election in 2016.) During his time in office, many clerks may have been bullied by State Attorney Willie Meggs and his Assistant State Attorney Jack Campbell. Documents pertaining to inmates who were awaiting trial were probably not filed properly by the clerks, or were purposely withheld from the inmates’ court records.
In the criminal case of State of Florida vs. DeShon Thomas, not only were there instances where the Leon County Sheriff’s Office filed fraudulent documents approved by Jack Campbell, there were many attorneys outside of the local area that could not access inmates’ criminal records without having to physically go to the Leon County Courthouse and fill out a form requesting inmates records on file. Attorneys outside of the Tallahassee area could not access inmates’ records online or over the phone. While some may see this as an oversight—Leon County’s failure to update their technology—others such as the relatives of Leon County Jail inmates see it as a way to “lock-in” information to only be accessed by local attorneys or families who have funds to spend on outside attorneys. Nearly half (if not more) of Tallahassee’s private paid attorneys are registered with the Leon County Clerk of Courts as conflict attorneys. And it’s no secret that when clients can’t afford attorneys, some attorneys may go work for the public defender’s office or the state attorney’s office.
DeShon’s mother (a single mother of four), paid a Central Florida attorney whom she’d consulted with about DeShon’s case, a total of $750 to drive from Central Florida to Tallahassee to meet with DeShon, who was being housed in solitary confinement at the Leon County Jail. DeShon was unable to make outgoing calls to an attorney and his family. The attorney explained to DeShon’s mother that the reason for the expense was because he/she could not access any of DeShon’s case records online or over the phone through the clerk’s office. DeShon, who was 17-years-old when he was arrested in 2011 for a number of charges—with the most serious being the double murders of 17-year-old, Sterling Connor Jr. and his pregnant sister, 20-year-old, Laqecia Herring, as well as Possession of a Firearm by a Juvenile Delinquent, and a later charge in 2012 for Solicitation to Commit 1st Degree Murder—was a freshman at Tallahassee Community College. Although DeShon and his family had been living in Tallahassee for nearly ten years, they are originally from Orlando.
All of DeShon’s previous court appointed attorneys—including Nancy Daniels Public Defender’s Office and the Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel—filed motions to withdraw citing conflict of interest. DeShon’s attorneys, as well as State Attorney Willie Meggs and the prosecutor on DeShon’s case, Jack Campbell, were well aware that the lead detective on the Two Counts of 1st Degree Murder and Possession of a Firearm by a Juvenile Delinquent cases was never an employee with the Leon County Sheriff’s Office. Yet, Jack Campbell approved and filed notarized court documents that identified the lead detective as, “Leon County Sheriff’s Detective Don Odham.” Meanwhile, Chief Assistant State’s Attorney Georgia Cappleman presented “Leon County Sheriff’s Detective Don Odham’s” words and actions to a grand jury and obtained an indictment against DeShon for Two Counts of 1st Degree Murder and Possession of a Firearm by a Juvenile Delinquent. None of DeShon’s court appointed or private paid attorneys in Tallahassee wanted to oust Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell and his son, State’s Prosecutor Jack Campbell for allowing their wealthy family friend, Don Odham, to “Play Cop.” This is the way the Campbell/Meggs ruled Tallahassee citizens for decades—telling everyone what to do and what not to do—what to say and what not to say. Don Odham was allowed to interrogate and assault children in front of their mothers. Don Odham’s badge number was 1206.
DeShon’s mother paid Tallahassee Criminal Defense Attorney Gregory Cummings nearly $30k. DeShon’s mother provided Cummings with numerous emails, text messages, cell phone records, etc. to assist in DeShon’s defense—either none of them were filed on DeShon’s behalf or the Leon County Clerk of Courts withheld them from DeShon’s case record. DeShon’s alibi for his whereabouts/actions during the late evening hours of January 26, 2011 into the early morning hours of January 27, 2011 was that he was working his entire shift at Taco Bell (confirmed by management that was never deposed). The District Two Medical Examiner’s Office never went to the crime scene. Therefore, the time of death question was left unanswered. And, State Attorney Jack Campbell refused to allow the District Two Medical Examiner’s Office to release the victims’ autopsy reports into public record. Cummings and Judge Hankinson, the presiding judge on DeShon’s case, played along with whatever Jack Campbell ordered. Cummings was eventually fired from DeShon’s case.
Circuit Judge James C. Hankinson had been presiding over DeShon’s cases since February 7, 2011. It was not until May 6, 2013, after DeShon’s mother contacted Governor Rick Scott in regards to Judge Hankinson having repeatedly failed to protect DeShon’s constitutional rights, as to when Judge Hankinson abruptly was no longer on DeShon’s case. Judge Hankinson did not inform DeShon that he was stepping down neither did Hankinson file a motion for recusal. On Sunday, June 2, 2013, Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford was assigned to preside over DeShon’s case.
On October 18, 2013, without a single shred of physical, circumstantial or material evidence against him, DeShon was convicted for Two Counts of 1st Degree Murder and Solicitation to Commit 1st Degree Murder. According to many attorneys outside of Tallahassee, the murder cases and the Solicitation to Commit 1st Degree murder cases should not have been tried together.
The Possession of a Firearm by a Juvenile Delinquent case was severed a month before DeShon went on trial. The firearm was not the murder weapon, neither was it in DeShon’s possession or residence when it was located without a search warrant. On December 16, 2013, DeShon pled No Contest to the charge of Possession of a Firearm by a Juvenile Delinquent. On the same day, Judge Jackie Fulford sentenced DeShon to Two Life Terms plus 30 years. At the time of his arrest, DeShon was four months away from his 18th birthday. Had DeShon been 18-years-old at the time of his arrest, DeShon would’ve been sentenced to Florida’s Death Row—despite the lies and corruption by officials involved in his case. The State of Florida should never allow a father and son to prosecute cases together. Sheriff Larry Campbell was an elected official—his son, Jack Campbell prosecuted cases under Sheriff Campbell’s jurisdiction for over a decade—sending several children to serve years in adult prisons.
Today, Larry Campbell is deceased, and his son Jack Campbell is Florida’s Second Judicial Circuit State Attorney. According to sources, Jack Campbell, a Democrat, out spent his opponent, Pete Williams, a Republican, in the 2016 State Attorney’s race. Mr. Williams self-funded his campaign. In a news article published in the Tallahassee Democrat, in reference to Jack Campbell, “He will be tasked with bringing the office technologically into the 21st Century and changing the perceived inside culture of the office.”
As an Assistant State’s Attorney, Jack Campbell ordered judges to assign attorneys that he himself hand-selected, on cases for his jailhouse indigent inmates–turned his (Campbell’s) key witnesses on cases that he was prosecuting. Jack Campbell and State Attorney Investigator Jason Newlin gave instruction for contraband to be smuggled into the Leon County Jail by Leon County Sheriff’s Deputy Ronald O’brien. Jack Campbell teamed up with Public Defender Lead Nancy Daniels to finagle codes so that attorneys that he selected would get paid for representing clients outside of their registered scope as possibly set with the Justice Administrative Commission.
In 2015, the Judicial Qualifications Commission found Judge Jackie Fulford had previously shown judicial misconduct before being assigned to preside over DeShon’s case. Fulford is no longer a judge.
Currently, according to the Leon County Clerk of Courts website, someone within the Leon County Courthouse has decided to finagle/downplay Circuit Judge James C. Hankinson’s role on DeShon’s case dating as far back as February 7, 2011. Disgraced Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford’s name has replaced Judge Hankinson’s name on numerous court dates. Judge Hankinson presided over DeShon’s case for over two years (February 7, 2011 thru) March 2013). Judge Fulford presided over DeShon’s case for the last seven months of 2013 (June thru December 2013). The changing of any court document is a criminal act. Though it is unclear as to whether or not the changes occurred under former Leon County Clerk of Courts and Comptroller Bob Inzer or current Leon County Clerk of Courts and Comptroller Gwen Marshall, either way, it goes to show the desperation of protecting officials in Tallahassee with “Big Money.” And completely ignoring its own citizens.
#FSU #FSULAW #FAMU #UF #UFLAW #TCC #FREEDESHONTHOMASNOW #CFU