John Molchan, You are the Weakest Link

Dear Mr. Molchan,

I am writing this to obtain clarity after your pronouncement that Rakeem Florence’s recantation was moot due to the fact there was overwhelming evidence and his testimony being corroborated by the surveillance video. I take exception to both statements, specifically in the Patrick Gonzalez Jr. case.

 I want to first remind you that this young man was a black 16 year old. He knew people that were on the periphery of this investigation. Your former boss, Mr. Eddins, informed the public this is a capital case. Florence is of the demographic most prone to false confessions. He is the only person of color, besides his family members, when he is interviewed by law enforcement. The circumstances of the crime, ie the media circus, the Sheriff constantly on television calling for public outrage as well as public help in finding the perpetrators of these murders, all culminate in a situation that probably seems like a no win situation to young black man. Imagine coming forward with information (which he & Thornton got straight on the way to police station) and realizing you could easily become a scapegoat. He was in over his head when he got there. Even his mother thought he only knew about some aspect of the murder; she did not believe her son was there. 

This is an excerpt of the cross examination by Michelle Hendrix of Florence in Donnie Stallworth’s 2nd trial, which ended in a hung jury.

Do you know if Florence or Thornton ever talked to Hugh Wiggins, prior to them coming forward?

Here is a story that Gary Sumner’s mother told to me. Prior to the murders, Sumner and Wiggins had a business arrangement. Wiggins provided some capital to help Sumner stay afloat. As so, Wiggins called Sumner and told him he had dropped off a white van, after hours, at the shop. The next morning, Gary gets in and grabs the keys left in the dropbox. He gets into the van to move it inside. He claims there were 4 dead bodies in the back. He got out of the van, called Hugh to say the message was received.  He believed it was a threat. Now whether you believe this story or not. It does not even matter if it was true. All that matters is that the teenagers thought it was true.

Also, I find it fascinating that you never called Florence to testify in Stallworth’s third trial, but I do know why. Michelle Hendrix impeached him with all the other testimonies he gave in the other cases, ex. Coldiron, Gonzalez Jr. etc. She really proved his testimony was worthless. Despite that you seem absolutely sure he was telling the truth. I am going to take a moment to speculate why you are all on-board with Florence and his testimony. I think you are more invested in this story than you are about finding the truth. Morgan conducted a shotty investigation, which the SAO never questioned just prosecuted. No one seriously looked at the family, who should have been scrutinized because they financially gained so much from their parents death. Morgan is a keystone cop. And yet, you took this far-fetched narrative rather than looking at the real issues. Here are some really good suspects: Hugh Wiggins, Justin Billings, Cab Tice. Remember originally Blue Markham told police he sold the van used in the crime to Cab Tice.

Here is just some of the cross-examination by Hendrix:

 In fact, Florence tried to withdraw his plea on April 27, 2011. Yet now you seem to think Florence is disingenuous. This young man is the prime demographic of the textbook case of false confessions. As Ms. Hendrix proved in her cross-examination, his testimony was never consistent. He was not a good witness and you realized this as well. You opted not to put him on the stand in Stallworth’s third trial.  It seems obvious you believe Florence was single-handedly the reason the jury was hung. So in your repetitive trials against Stallworth, after running him out of money, forcing him to opt for a public defender, you did not investigate whether there was something hinky with Florence’s testimony. You could and definitely should have further inquired as to why his story was ever changing. I mean, if the interest is in justice, that would have been the only prudent course. Yet your concern was the win; it was never justice.

Interestingly, I emailed Rakeem and asked him to explain what he called “evidence” of his coercion. This is his reply:

I hope, Mr. Molchan, you realize he is asserting you coerced him and provided the narrative that was factually questionable. You mention that the video surveillance corroborates both Florence’s testimony and Thornton’s testimony.  It sounds like the reason it matches the video is because you crafted his testimony. Now ethically, it plainly looks to be improper for you to blast him on the news, knowing he does not have the same access to those media resources you have. Nevertheless, you are the one saying his recantation is moot, especially since he is accusing you of coercing this testimony. Convenient.

OVERWHELMING EVIDENCE

In reading every page of the thousands of documents dumped into the public domain prior to trial & the trial transcripts, I must presume you either do not know what evidence is, or you are so arrogant to think the pittance of information presented in Gonzalez Jr.’s trial, would put him on death row if presented today.

Here are some excerpts from the trial transcript of Mr. Eddins’s opening statement:

The above is from pg 246 of the transcript volume 2 of the Patrick Gonzalez Jr. Trial.


The highlighted portion is misleading. There was no “proof” only testimony by admitted co-conspirators.

This entire section is factually anemic because Leonard Gonzalez Sr. never testified in his son’s case, nor was his statement entered into evidence. In fact, this is a violation of Rule 4-3.4(E) of the RULES REGULATING THE FLORIDA BAR. That rule provides: A lawyer shall not … in trial, allude to any matter that the lawyer does not reasonably believe is relevant or that will not be supported by admissible evidence, assert personal knowledge of facts in issue except when testifying as a witness, or state a personal opinion as to the justness of a cause, the credibility of a witness, the culpability of a civil litigant, or the guilt or innocence of an accused. The state attorney was doing none of these things; he was exaggerating the totality of the evidence. This statement alludes to Sr. testimony which was never admitted. Carol Brant was Sr.’s common law wife and her testimony would only be admissible if it were corroborating Sr’s testimony, but it was not. These statements potentially taint the jury with facts which were never admitted into evidence, such as the Brady violation by not submitting the most recent criminal history of Smith and Eisa which was unknown by the defense and would have contributed to the weight their testimony carried to the jury.

Mr. Molchan, to recap, there was no legitimate, untainted testimony evidence that Gonzalez Jr. plotted anything. Not to point out the obvious but Thornton’s testimony was concocted in tandem with Florence’s.

As for the physical evidence, your office destroyed the red van you claimed was used in the crime. That evidence is no longer admissible. Carol Brant passed away. So, there are two co-conspirators, who developed their story together and now one has said it was false. You have no credible person to say Jr. plotted this crime. As for physical evidence. In the video, the shooter grabs Bud and Bud grabbed him in this struggle.  This is confirmed by the only eyewitness, the child in the room. GMA reported the child stated:

“The child told police he heard one of the men say, “You’re gonna die — one, two, three.” The boy said his father then grabbed one of the suspects and that his mother got shot in the shirt.”

There is DNA under Bud’s nails. And a profile for that DNA was developed.  But Patrick Gonzalez Jr. is excluded as a contributor.

There is no DNA evidence to put Jr. at the seen or any of his DNA on any clothing. And let’s talk about the guns. The murder weapon was never linked to Gonzalez Jr. except by Hugh Wiggins who had possession of all the guns, the bloody clothes and the safe. Now tell me why he would not be the logical suspect?  Remind me again who the owner of the weapons was. There seems to be no report showing the ATF established whose guns they were. You have Jr.’s fingerprints on the 2 of the guns not shot in this crime. You never established he did anything but touch those guns. Let’s say he did touch them, there is no evidence to suggest he touched those guns that night or during any crucial timeframe. Fingerprints do no come with a time stamp.

Morgan is a keystone cop and the SAO hitched its wagon to his “investigation”. Your office did not question it when he did not investigate the family, the people with the most to gain. What about Cab Tice? Remember Blue Markham told investigators that he sold the van used in the crime to Cab.

With real leads uninvestigated, how in the hell can you claim you are competent. There is so much reasonable doubt,. To sum it up, no physical evidence, no credible circumstantial evidence, leads not investigated. If Gonzalez Jr.’s case was tried today, how could you justify the amount of energy and taxpayer dollars you wasted aggressively pursuing a unviable set of cases. These are people’s lives, Mr. Molchan. There is so many unanswered questions, and you are a public servant. Years ago, I was told there is “no justice in Florida”. I have to say there seems to be so much tunnel vision.

Checkmate, Mr. Molchan. Your case is inviable. It’s time to put your ego aside and find the truth.

Bill Richbourg, C’mon Down!

So in the long line of people who cashed in, exploited and turned a blind eye in the Billings case, I want to welcome Bill Richbourg to the cast of characters who should be on the other side of the bars that they put their clients in. Mr. Richbourg could arguably be the most deplorable of the attorneys who rolled over and played dead in this case. Mr. Richbourg was hired by Gary Sumner to represent him. He paid Mr. Richbourg. For 6 weeks seemingly, work was done to further the defense case for Sumner.  But on April 25, 2011, the day set for the jury selection, Mr. Richbourg tells Sumner (as they approach the courtroom) that he could not win this case, Sumner had no option but to take a plea. Richbourg strong-armed a disadvantaged young black man. Then the state had the gall to sue Sumner for the time they wasted for trial.

But the best part here is that Richbourg had an agenda from the onset of representing Sumner. He represented Bud Billings in the adoption fraud suit that somehow left the “stolen” child with the captor. Richbourg organized that circa 1989-90.richbourg clip

Can you say CONFLICT???? Representing a man that is being charged with killing a past client and then tanking the representation? Cheryl Barnes, Gary Sumner’s mother, should be suing this man on Gary’s behalf. Not only unethical, but it rises to level of criminal when he forced Gary into signing away his life rather than actually representing him. Any civil rights lawyers out there should be on top of this.

But the people who failed to do their job in this case is so numerous. Richbourg is just ONE of the highly respected attorneys who dropped the ball.

Tony Henderson forced Lenny Gonzalez into his plea and signed off on the man’s legal mental competence, despite the SSI ruling that states the man has brain damage, dementia, and numerous mental health issues. Also his VAN WAS INOPERABLE. That was a defense within itself, but Henderson managed to negotiate Lenny’s fate which led to his death. Shouldn’t that be beyond malpractice as well?

What about the public defenders who handled Florence & Thornton?  There was a huge case for coerced confessions but they never represented their clients. They took the money  the state paid them and walked those boys into prison.  Now their lives are cast in stone.  Statistics say that uneducated black men imprisoned early (18-25) build “criminal capital”. They turn prison into a community that they are comfortable with, can network in, to feel a sense of inclusion into SOMETHING. It is the same psycho-social phenomenon that draws people into gangs. That is on  Joel M. Cohen (Florence’s public defender),  & Cheryl Alverson (Thornton’s public defender).

Richbourg has a great deal of company in his criminality.  I hope to see them punished just like Eddins, Geeker & Sir David.

 

 

 

 

Confessions of a Lawman

*This post was written by a deputy at the ECSO.

There is a problem in Escambia County. It is a problem that starts with the ECSO and its administration. The problem is not a typical workplace issue. The problem that faces the ECSO is one of greater proportion. It has become a plague that is reflected in the community. Staff members would want you to believe the problem is caused by disgruntled employees with agendas or grievances or because of the low level pay scale. They would say there are generational or societal differences causing friction within the administration. Point of fact, there could be cases that demonstrate any one of those scenarios. Any business with as many employees as the ECSO will have some cases of bad employees. It just is not possible to have a MAJORITY of employees images.duckduckgo.jpgthat are unhappy or that fall into these categories.  A fish rots from the head down. The most likely cause of the anathema in the ECSO is that the leadership has failed.

David Morgan may have had good intentions when he decided to run for the office he now holds. He likely believed that his ideas would improve our community. His vision was based in the understanding that he had from the point of view he could have as a civilian.  I say civilian because he never had any LEO certification, training or experience enforcing the law. He has shifted that stance from outside civilian to now assert experience via uncorroborated military service. Please never make the mistake of believing he had any law enforcement experience based on the jobs he performed in the Air Force. One could not claim to be a chef because they can microwave a frozen burrito to perfection.

Becoming a law enforcement officer takes much dedication and commitment. It takes the ability to apply yourself to a change the way you view everything you ever learned. You understand that the authority that is given to you is a huge responsibility. You must learn to use the power that comes with being an effective law enforcement officer so the best outcome is reached even in the most difficult of circumstances. Morgan never had the opportunity to discover the path that leads an officer to the good even if there is only evil lurking along that path. The ability to make good choices isn’t taught in a classroom. It is impossible to read about the correct way to reached desired goals. Accomplishments are gained through experience and exposure to the real-life situations that are encountered each day as a law enforcement officer. Often the best lessons are taught through making a mistake.

Early into Morgan’s “career” as a law enforcement officer he was thrust into a very rare type of case for any officer. A murder with multiple victims. Morgan found himself in the spotlight. The cameras and lights in his face. All attention given to his every word. His one liners taken as candid talk from a law enforcement professional. Very sexy to hear the story but could not be further from the truth.  Morgan got the opportunity to narrate a story contrived without all the facts in record time with a record number of suspects. Any seasoned officer with experience with homicide investigations will tell you that the case was too complex to unfold in this fashion under the scrutiny of the press and the community given all the factors involved. It was implausible at best to wrap the case up that quickly and self-serving and malicious at worst. But everyone liked him. The media loved his persona and bought the shoddy result without so much as a second glance. Morgan’s MO is to define a narrative from the onset then when facts come in, they are bent to fit the narrative. That’s what rookies do. The facts are supposed to structure the narrative. But Morgan is a storyteller. He tells a story, such as the humdinger or the “ritual” witch killing. The story led the investigation in both cases.  The only things investigated were those things that went along with the story. There is no justice in that and by the way, how is that police work?

Morgan was given a taste of fame and importance. He began to believe he was the person that the media made him out to be. This is where the story takes a sad twist. Morgan started to act as his presence bestowed favor to the ECSO. Morgan believed he was such a capable individual he could understand a job in only a few months that takes veteran officers decades to fully understand. He believed he was beyond any person that has ever walked through the doors of the ECSO. Morgan sealed his destiny when he allowed his ego to guide his actions.

Take a moment to ask yourself a few questions. List all the accomplishments that are a positive result of Morgan and his leadership since being elected into office. I would guarantee that the first thought that came to your mind was either a campaign effort to lock your doors or that Escambia County was in the top spot for crime in Florida. Neither should be on your list. Telling citizens to lock the car door is not law enforcement it is common sense. Escambia County did not get to the top spot in crime because our doors were unlocked. Our county is at the top because we have robberies, murders, burglaries, and so many other violent crimes in our community.

Give one example of what David Morgan has done to decrease crime in this county. You could not say he has the manpower up. Our county has less experience on the street now than ever in the history of the agency.  Our officers are working with less training and less guidance than should be allowed. There is not a doubt that Eric Haines would argue that the agency has more training than ever before and give you a total number of hours each officer spends a year in training. Understand that artificially inflating hours of training does not mean that the training is useful or beneficial to our community. It can be information to rely on when you are making a pitch to create the illusion that you have been useful in the leadership of the ECSO.  It sounds amazing when you are on a radio show several times a week for convincing the public this agency-our agency–is above all others. I question why there needs to be constant reminders of why I should feel safe and not just feel safe.

The truth is our agency has developed into a public relations machine to further the iconic David Morgan and his celebrity status. We hire news reporters and public relation assistants. We have numerous radio and television programs. We have a studio that is dedicated to the production of scripted news reports and propaganda created by the Morgan machine. Why? Criminals will not be deterred by the “top cop” being popular. A criminal is reluctant to commit crimes when a law enforcement agency is strong on the enforcement of laws. If Morgan had performed as a law enforcement officer he would not have to be told that. He would know from experience that strong enforcement equals reduced crime. I guess that makes the point that Morgan was not ever a cop so he needs to be told.

 

This is why crime is so high in the county. Morgan has turned our agency into a public relations apparatus. A sheriff should not be a huckster.