September 28, 2012
Governor Rick Scott
400 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32301
Dear Governor Scott:
I am not sure that this letter will ever reach your desk, but I am writing it with all faithfulness that it will. I am no prominent person or outstanding community leader. My name is Carissa Chambers; I am a native Floridian, a taxpayer, at one time a homeowner, and most importantly—a mother. All of these I will say that I am very proud to be and have been. In late January 2011, two Leon County residents’ lives changed forever.
On the morning of January 27, 2011, Tracy Bush arrived at her Leon County residence to find her two oldest children murdered. Sterling Conner Jr. (17-years-old) and Laqecia Herring (21-years-old) had been shot two times each in the head. Laqecia Herring was about 4 months pregnant and her 1-year-old daughter was also in the residence. Thankfully, her daughter was unharmed. The victims’ residence was located in the Wolf Creek townhouse community off of Highway 20, one of the busiest and most dangerous two-lane highways in Tallahassee. I mention this because the backdoor of the victims’ residence opens up to Highway 20 and the toddler could’ve easily walked out of the back. According to the 911 transcript of the mother, it states that the backdoor to the residence had been “kicked in”. In a statement taken by Leon County Sheriff’s Detective Melinda McBride of the victims’ mother’s girlfriend, LaShonda Perkins, it states that as they were rounding the corner to enter into the Wolf Creek community, she noticed that the backdoor was “wide open”. The first responding Leon County Sheriff’s Deputy, J. Vann stated in his report that when he went around to the back of the residence, he noticed that the backdoor was 6 inches open. Deputy Vann, Detective Pearson, and Sergeant Green all entered into the residence through the backdoor. Now, I’m no Angela Lansbury, but here alone you have three different people describing the condition of a backdoor at a residence where two young people were found murdered. One of the things that all of the detectives and others agree on is that there was no sign of forced entry. If that is in fact a true statement, then where does the backdoor being “kicked in” come into play?
Governor Scott, the above is just one of what seems like hundreds of discrepancies riddled throughout the Discovery Report in regards to Homicide Case No. 2011-CF-441 State of Florida vs. DeShon R. Thomas. DeShon R. Thomas was 17-years-old; a freshman enrolled in his second semester at Tallahassee Community College and working at least thirty-five hours a week at Taco Bell, when he was charged with murdering his pregnant ex-girlfriend—Laqecia Herring and her brother—Sterling Conner Jr.
I am the mother of DeShon R. Thomas and I’m writing you this letter to tell you that my son is INNOCENT of this heinous crime. Within a week, Leon County Sheriff’s detectives straight up LIED to five (5) different judges at the Leon County Courthouse in order to lock up my son.
The following describes some of the events and the judges that were LIED to. I’ve also attached copies of documents out of the Discovery Report and emails, to show you that I’m not making anything up.
Upon learning of the murders of the victims, as well as discussing the events over the past couple of days ( I’d just spoken to the female victim three days earlier by cell phone and my son said that he felt like the police were following him), I gave my son an ultimatum. I told him that he was either going to come down to Central Florida with me and the other kids, or we were going to go to talk to the police. I told him that I was not going to leave him in Tallahassee with the police following him. He decided that he did not want to drop out of his classes and quit his job or leave his current girlfriend, so he decided that we’d go to the police department (in which we went to Tallahassee Police Department who in turn directed us to the Leon County Sheriff’s Office).
We were not well received by Detective Don Odham of the Leon County Sheriff’s Office. By his words and actions, my son was not a person of interest or a suspect—my son was the murderer. Det. Odham violated several of our civil rights. I was outright shocked by his words and actions. I mean there my son and I were, a day after two young victims were murdered, voluntarily wanting to help tie up any loose ends in this horrific case, and instead of stepping out on a professional level, we were faced with this “beast of nature” with a badge and his “Klu Klux Klansman” ignorance. At that time I had a decision to make, I could’ve grabbed my son and walked out of the sheriff’s office or I could’ve stayed and sat with my son. I chose to sit with my son. Unfortunately, my son’s need to protect me from the ignorance, frustration, will to be independent got the best of him and at the elevator, my son decided that he didn’t want me to come with him. As all loving parents would agree, in the end, no decision is ever really left up to our minor child. Furthermore, my son said it in a tone as a child would say they don’t want to eat their broccoli, you can appreciate them for saying it, but because it’s good for them to eat, they’re going to eat it; which was in that case with my son. When the elevator doors opened, and my son and the two other law enforcement officers had gotten onto the elevator, Det. Odham blocked me from getting onto the elevator. I could not believe his behavior. As the elevator doors closed, I stood there frozen in total disbelief. When I regained my awareness, I walked over to the desk and told the deputy to call them and tell them that we were going to get an attorney and that they needed to send my son down now! It never happened. The actions of the Leon County Sheriff’s detectives that evening, was the beginning of the many lies that would erupt out of the Leon County Sheriff’s Office, spill over into the judicial system and then into the community.
While my son and I were being held hostage at the Leon County Sheriff’s Office, a detective(s) LIED to judge #1 (Judge Ronald Flurry), in order to get a search warrant for Trentin Ross’ residence. Trentin Ross, who was 21-years-old and my son were co-workers at Taco Bell. My son had recently moved into Trentin Ross’ one-bedroom apartment. On item A, the Affidavit For Search Warrant, there are so many LIES… But for the sake of time what is probably the most significant is where it’s states that the autopsy of the victims “confirmed that both victims died as a result of gunshot wounds consistent with a 9mm round”. Surely, Dr. Anthony Clark, MD, of the Medical Examiner’s Office knows what damage two rounds to each of the victims’ heads from a 9 mm handgun look like. At this point it should be noted that the victims were not murdered with a 9 mm handgun (see ref. 1. below). When the Search Warrant obtained to search Trentin Ross’ residence did not net detectives any significant evidence, they charged my son with a bogus charge of Cultivation of Marijuana.
My son, DeShon, was taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center on a bogus charge of Cultivation of Marijuana. The charge was so bogus, that we had to go before a Juvenile Court judge three times before Leon County Sheriff’s detectives LIED to judge #2 (Judge Karen Gievers). Detectives said that they had a witness in the case where he/ she said that DeShon admitted to being the owner of the marijuana stems. The unknown witness’s statement, along with words whispered into the ear of a State Prosecutor by homicide Det. Don Odham, influenced the State Prosecutor to Direct File the Cultivation of Marijuana charge that sent my 17-year-old son to Adult Jail. On Item B, State of Florida vs. DeShon R. Thomas, the only witnesses listed are the resident owner, Trentin Ross, whose closet the marijuana stems were found in and Leon County Sheriff’s staff. No other witnesses are listed. On Item C, State of Florida vs. Trentin Ross, whom also was charged with Cultivation of Marijuana, has a tremendously less witness list. Also, note on the second page of Item C, under number 7. Information relative to the offense was not provided by a confidential informant. Then my question is why his /her name is not listed. The only answer I can come up with is because there was no witness—underscoring the LIE that was told in Judge Gievers courtroom.
At the Bond Hearing before judge #3 (Judge Robert Wheeler), the judge was given information in regards to DeShon’s non-violent juvenile record and that he was a suspect in a double murder case. This was the first time that I’d actually taken my son being a suspect in the double murder serious. That information coming from the State Prosecutor clearly swayed the judge’s decision in granting all of the Bond Conditions requested by the State Prosecutor to be enforced, one mainly being GPS monitoring. What judge puts GPS monitoring on a 17-year-old on charges for Cultivation of Marijuana? This judge broke my heart when he stated “he’s not going to flee on my watch.” Flee from what judge? My son has never fled from anything. And he surely had no reason to “Flee” from a crime that he didn’t commit. Before I could post bond, because remember my house was on the market and I needed to get my phone re-installed, my son called me to tell me that they were charging him with two counts of 1st Degree Murder.
Apparently, Det. Don Odham (2nd Lead Detective) prepared the Probable Cause Report and presented it to judge #4 (Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson), who in turn signed the Arrest Warrant for the 2 counts of 1st Degree Murder charges. Here again, previously stated LIES were repeated. This time Det. Don Odham states that on February 4, 2011, Trentin Ross (the young man who is the owner of the residence where my son was living and whose closet the marijuana stems were located in) voluntarily responded to the Leon County Sheriff’s Office and gave a statement that sided with their claims of my son being the murderer. (Item E statement from Det. Melinda McBride, the 1st Lead Detective on this case contradicts Det. Don Odham’s statement of Trentin Ross’ voluntary to the sheriff’s office which in fact it was not voluntary—Trentin was contacted and it was scheduled for him to come in). During Trentin Ross’ voluntarily trip to the sheriff’s office, supposedly, Trentin Ross told detectives that my son was upset about Laqecia Herring being pregnant, and that around 4 o’clock in the morning on January 27, 2011, he drove my son to the area of the residence and parked across the street from the victims residence (in so many words: from afar– he witnessed my son commit the murders) and then in summary– afterwards they returned to their residence, with him (Trentin Ross) driving. As I type this letter, Trentin Ross has not spent one day in jail. And he has not been charged with anything in relation to the murders.
After my son sat in jail for over 30 days without a public defender and by constant phone calls by a seemingly eager attorney to represent my son, Gregory Cummings, I felt forced to use all of the money in my saving account to retain a private attorney. On March 12, 2011, I signed a Contract For Services with Attorney Gregory Cummings. As part of the Contract For Services, all monies paid for services to Mr. Cummings were non-refundable. At the time I didn’t see that as a problem because “we” (Mr. Cummings and I) entered into a Contract. The Contract required that he act as a Defense Attorney for my 17-year-old son and I pay him for doing so. Although I was not satisfied with Mr. Cummings services, I respected him for way longer than I should have.
On July 17, 2012, my son had a Pre-trial Hearing to discuss his upcoming trial, in which his trial was set for the week of August 13th 2012. At his Pre-Hearing, his trial date was reset for October 22nd 2012 citing that judge #5 (Judge James Hankinson) may have a Cancerous growth on his nose and needed surgery to remove it. Now here, after a year and a half of my son being in jail solely based on words out of Trentin Ross’ statement (State’s key witness), as it was presented to my son and I, Mr. Cummings had not taken Trentin Ross’ deposition. It has always been my son, as well as mine’s belief that Trentin Ross didn’t willfully say what Det. Odham stated that he said. Therefore, I began to believe that the real problem with getting my son’s case to trial was because Assistant State Attorney/Prosecutor Jack Campbell cannot convince Trentin Ross (who has since relocated back to his hometown near Daytona Beach) to travel back to Tallahassee to LIE. See Item F email from Mr. Cummings to me.
It is my strong belief that somewhere along the line Mr. Cummings either sided with the State Prosecutor or took advantage of the fact that the monies paid to him were non-refundable and just became out of touch with the seriousness of my son’s case; either way, his unethical practices, lack of communication and lack of competency forced me to persuade my now 19-year-old son, to FIRE Mr. Cummings. This was not an easy decision for my son to come too. He knew that if he fired Mr. Cummings, this would possibly cause an even further delay in his trial. Despite Mr. Cummings telling my son that he would stay on his case without my son paying him any additional monies, my son sided with me and FIRED Mr. Cummings. However, Mr. Cummings refused to get off of his case. Unbeknownest to my son and Mr. Cummings, I’d filed a Complaint with the Florida Bar against Mr. Cummings. It was then when Mr. Cummings grasped the seriousness of me wanting him off of my son’s case. I kept the Complaint from my son, because of our lack of privacy to communicate, I knew that if it were learned that I’d filed a Complaint against Mr. Cummings, Assistant State Attorney/Prosecutor Jack Campbell would retaliate in some form or fashion. A week after Mr. Cummings learned of the Complaint that I filed against him with the Florida Bar, Assistant State Attorney/Prosecutor Jack Campbell charged my son with Solicitation to Commit 1st Degree Murder, the intended victim, none other than their “key witness” Trentin Ross. So now they want it to look like the reason why Trentin Ross won’t come back to Tallahassee is not because they LIED or forced him to LIE about the events that landed my son in jail, but because my now 19-year-old son who has no form of income what-so-ever offered to pay a suspected 21-year-old bank robber named Dawaun Williams, to dress up like a girl and then shoot and kill Trentin Ross. In addition, to wanting Dawaun Williams to kill Trentin Ross, it was stated in the Probable Cause that my son confessed to killing the victims; stating that he killed the male victim because he (my son) had seen him in a picture wearing the color black. This supposedly plot to have Trentin Ross murdered, apparently had first come to surface in late June 2012. Which draws the question that if in fact this was something that if Assistant State Attorney/Prosecutor Jack Campbell felt he had strong evidence of, why didn’t he bring the charge out when they were at Pre-trial a week or so earlier. Or why not wait until a new attorney is put in to place and then announce the charges; or better yet, why not wait until the plan was in full action, then foil it? No, they clearly retaliated against my son for FIRING Mr. Cummings, which possibly foiled their plan. On August 20, 2012, Mr. Cummings told WCTV news reporter Julie Montanaro that he asked the court to remove himself off of my son’s case as Defense Attorney (whatever helps him sleep better at night).
Today my son has been in jail for approximately 573 days. He’s been in confinement and unable to receive visitors for 42 days. He has not been in contact with his assigned court appointed Attorney, Samuel Olmstead. My son has a Pre-trial Hearing scheduled for October 2, 2012. His Trial date is set for October 22nd 2012. My son has expressed to me that he would like another prosecutor and judge to preside over his case.
I find it very pathetic that so many LIES coming from the Leon County Sheriff’s Office has led to the possible damage of all involved; the damaged trust in detectives by five different judges; the damaged trust in law enforcement and the judicial system by the community, clearly this is not the path a true leader would want his community to be led down. When you have Law Enforcement Officers straight up lying on a child in an attempt to secure a conviction…is sad and outrageous!
I don’t understand why Assistant State Attorney/Prosecutor Jack Campbell would want to try a 17-year-old college student in the court of law on bogus, yet extremely serious (two counts of 1st Degree murder) in front of a jury of his peers, with a “key witness” who possibly told detectives whatever they wanted to hear just to get them to leave him alone and two main contradicting statements coming from two different lead detectives whom were over the case– whereas the 2nd lead detective is a known LIAR and was FIRED from the Leon County Sheriff’s Office partly (if not mainly) because of his LYING and DECEPTIVE behavior–seems to me like it would be an atrocity. Sure law enforcement officers along with the State Attorney’s Office, wants everyone to believe that my son is a “hardcore” gang member (basically in the same manner that law enforcement officers wanted everyone to believe that Rachel Morningstar Hoffman was a “big time” drug dealer) when the truth of the matter is that my son is/was not a gang member. There is no evidence that my son was a gang member. But there’s plenty of evidence that shows that my son was in his second semester as a full-time college student at Tallahassee Community College and that my son would come into work at the drop of dime whenever his employer called him in to fill in for other employees when they called off from work. My son averaged 35 or more hours a week at work, his timesheets will prove that.
The only obstacle that I’m having at this time is coming up with enough money to afford a new Defense Attorney on such short notice to represent my son. However, I’ve been in contact with plenty of people who sit on a national platform, that are interested in my son’s case. Governor Scott, I don’t know exactly what you can and cannot enforce, but none of this situation that my son and my family have been enduring for 573 days, has been solely based on LIES. As parents, we sometimes expect our kids to lie, and when they do, we correct them. As taxpayers and noble citizens, we expect our Law Enforcement officers to protect and be truthful with us. In this case—there’s disgust! There’s no other way to describe it—total disgust! Again, the attached documents will prove what I’ve stated above.
Thank you for your time.
Ms. Carissa Chambers
A 9 mm handgun has a higher velocity than a .38 caliber handgun, therefore resulting in a much different type of damage to the victims both visually and internally. It shouldn’t take for the FDLE Report to state that the victims were murdered with a .38 caliber handgun. The murder weapon was never found. Sheriff’s statements later implemented a .38 caliber handgun into certain witnesses’ statements. Going as far as to having the witnesses say that they saw a gun that resembled a “western style gun” at the residence where my son was living . However, none of the witnesses’ statements stood out more than the statement from one of Sterling Conner Jr.’s (the male victim) best friend, Mike Fain. On February 8, 2011, the day after it was broadcasted in the news media that my 17-year-old son was a murderer, a statement from Mike Fain taken by Detective Dawn Dennis, revealed that Sterling Conner Jr. was the owner of a .38 caliber handgun with a clip (not a revolver). In no statement that I’ve read, shows where the victims’ mother was asked about her 17-year-old deceased son having had possession of the very same caliber handgun that took his and his pregnant sister’s life.