For those that know me, you know Rick and I are not friends. I challenged his integrity after he consulting him at the beginning of my quest for the truth in this case. Rick provided a wealth of knowledge that was never published and I was able to corroborate that. His facts were never disclosed and he was “sitting on them”. I asked why he never did anything with that information. He said, “well time moves on; people lose interest”. That was really interesting to me. The facts I speak of point to the innocence of Pat Gonzalez Jr.
So my reply to his statement that time moves on was, “This is a man’s life; you’re telling me you just didn’t feel like pursuing the truth. So what does that say about your integrity?” He stammered, hemmed and hawed. Finally hung up on me. Tried to intimidate me to redact a column of his regarding this murder in my book. It was fully credited to him, but he said for $25K. He’d abandon his claim on that article.
I replied after consulting an attorney. Needless to say, nothing ever became of it.
So this article ,published on theInWeekly.net site, is a recap of the Billings case as well as sort of tribute to Sheriff Morgan and his tenure. Naturally, I have many issues with it. I will copy the excerpt that I find less than accurate.
“The crime exposed an underbelly of Escambia County that few locals wanted to admit existed”
This is the most truthful assertion of the article. Those that know the Billings Case intimately know that there is great deal of info that came out about Byrd Billings and his businesses, families and that opens up the door to incites into his murder. None of these things were ever officially investigated.
“…established Sheriff David Morgan has (presumably ‘as’) one of the top law enforcement leaders in the country. “
This is a flat lie and cannot be proven by any stretch. He is a legend in his own mind but the world does not share that delusion; Rick appears too as well.
While his “policy” may be not to go to the scene of a homicide, that did not stop him from showing up at this one. That will never be found in any report. Which begs the question, why?
I know Morgan was there because of the account from Robbi Jones, a lady who lived on the property with her husband, Samuel. They did odd jobs for Byrd and Robbi was home at the time of the murder. She didn’t have a clear line of sight of the main house as she lived in a trailer behind a detached garage. But you’d think she and her husband would have given a statement at least or would be questioned. That didn’t happen. However, the kids, April, Ashley, Blue and Justin all gathered in her trailer with the kids when Morgan arrived. He wrote down Robbi’s name in his little notebook and probably was in her home for 20 minutes or so. However, nothing ever came of it. She literally is excluded in history and was never investigated as a possible suspect.
When Robbi contacted me last year, I was shocked. I had not ever seen her name or her hubby’s in ANY paperwork. Robbi told me she was on Dateline with the family. This is an excerpt of the transcript of that episode, ” No Safe Place”:
Robbi and James both saw Morgan and talked with him. Why is that part left out of the narrative. Morgan alludes to it by saying his “policy is not to go to the scene of a homicide”. You can almost hear the “but that night….” that surely followed in this quote. Conveniently left out.
Robbi’s other contribution is that she can attest to the chaos, lack of procedure, lack of securing the scene overnight as well as deputies coming to get Justin to access the video. That is such a sloppy law enforcement act. That evidence is tainted by virtue Justin could have easily accessed another video, deleted part etc….this breaks the chain of custody and this evidence should have been excluded by this act alone.
None of this “organization” or him sitting down asking how to make this easier for them to investigate. In fact, there were several people working different parts of the case. For example, a pair of investigators looked into Lenny Gonzalez and the van. Another pair went to investigate differing areas but none of these investigators EVER sat down and shared their findings with each other. No one knew more than there task. It was all coming in to Morgan but he wasn’t disseminating.
Chris Baggett’s depo sheds more light on the level of coordination and checks and balances.
So Morgan is the Top Law Enforcement Leaders in the Country? HA!
Business as Usual: How Routine Public Corruption Affects People Like You Chapter One
The 1st part of the 1st Chapter of Stories About Regular People, Just Like You, Who are Victimized by Corruption
Now, I am proud to present the writing of a guest who has taken up the mantle with me as a fellow gladiator for justice. It’s important to hear this person’s voice and passion about the injustice happening in Pensacola. I could not have explained this situation any better. Due to certain retaliation concerns, this writer remains anonymous. But I have vetted the story and can attest to the veracity of every word.
General Summary……This is a story of a witch hunt. Heather DeLorme got wrongfully incarcerated for being on the wrong side of some powerful people. To gain a clear understanding of the events that led to the current incarceration of Heather DeLorme, we must look back to the year 2015…
The Background….From September 2008 through February 2015, Heather was an employee of Robert and Tanya Underwood at Emerald Coast Granite and Tile located at 3700 North Palafox. In the years that Heather was employed, she wore many hats for the Underwood’s and was a close friend of Tanya. Some of Heather’s duties included payroll, granite sales, invoicing customers, vendor relationships, accountant relationships, managing disgruntled employees, notarizing documents, personal shopping for Tanya, shuffling money between accounts to disguise Tanya’s compulsive shopping/shoplifting, house sitting, dog sitting, party planning, and bookkeeping for Robert Underwood’s multiple and ever changing LLC’s . So, it is suffice to say that Heather DeLorme was intimately familiar with how the Underwoods ran their multiple businesses as well as their personal lives.
Heather was terminated by Tanya in mid February of 2015 after taking a few days off to attend a family funeral out of town and returned to find that she no longer had a job or a friend. The reason for her dismissal was for “talking behind Tanya’s back with Debbie Outzen Matthews.” Heather was devastated and in disbelief that she was shut out of her friend, Tanya’s life without any confrontation or explanation.
On March 24, 2015, Heather began a new job at Duggins Supply, and was forthcoming with Tim and Jessolyn Duggins that Tanya Underwood had just filed a report with the Escambia County Sheriff’s office on March 18, 2015 accusing Heather of stealing from the business. Officers Brissett and Harry Kilpatrick opened an investigation on March 31, 2015. Heather readily provided Officer Kilpartick with her bank statements and there appeared to be no evidence that any theft occurred least of all by Heather and she was never contacted again for any further questioning. The matter seemed to have been dropped.
The 2015 Arrest………On June 19, 2015, Heather DeLorme was arrested for theft at Emerald Coast Granite and Tile while she was at work at Duggins on W Street.
In June 2017, Heather DeLorme is ACQUITTED by a trial jury.In June 2015, Tanya Underwood filed a civil lawsuit against Heather DeLorme for civil theft amounting to $54,750 plus treble damages.
In June 2018, the case was dismissed for Lack of Prosecution.
During the years 2015 to 2017, Heather was put through a criminal investigation as well as a civil lawsuit launched by the Underwoods spearheaded by SAO, John Dubose with Judge Dannheiser presiding. The civil suit was forged by the Liberis Law firm. On May 3, 2017 Heather was defended by private attorney, Michael J Griffith,and was found NOT GUILTY by a trial jury and the civil case is eventually dropped in 2018 for a lack of prosecution because there was no evidence found in the criminal trial that would provide for any type of judgement in civil court. This should be the end of the story, but it isn’t.
The circumstances surrounding Heather’s arrest raise many questions as to the validity of the claims made by the Underwoods. As five or six ECSO vehicles pulled up to Duggin’s Supply at the corner of Fairfield and W Street, Tanya Underwood, Debbie Outzen Matthews, were inside the Exxon gas station adjacent to the Duggin’s parking lot video taping Heather being taken into custody.
- How did Tanya know that Heather was scheduled to be arrested on that exact date and time?
- Is it a coincidence that one of the ECSO officers that were questioning other employees about Heather was John Holcomb, a high school friend of Robert Underwood?
To be continued……
I said there was going to be a followup blog on Jon Beard and his excessive force hi jinks, however, Beard’s personnel records have been delayed and then, well, the nation went into mass chaos with calls for “defunding the police”. I didn’t want to add any fuel to that fire. So I apologize for not posting on this issue, which is a HUGE PROBLEM, for the ECSO, but I wanted no hand in encouraging behavior that compromises the community safety because of improper timing. The harm vs the truth ratio was out of balance for me. Beard’s story will be told, but the timing, to tell it, is not now.
I did want to speak from the heart on the world events. I do this blog because of my personal sense of duty to do the right thing, not for personal gain, but because it is right. I think I have inspired others to step up, even though there is fear and uncertainty. Some cannot due to circumstances and that I understand. That is why I choose to be the voice for those who cannot speak for themselves. There is no personal gain for me, other than peace of being able to live with my own choices.
I have been labeled as “crazy”, “lone nut”. I have been said to misunderstand events and the law. I have been told my efforts are for naught. None of these things prevented me from continuing on a path I consider my own. Some people I haven’t been able to help as much as I wish. While others, I feel, I aided their cause and progressed their fight for some amount of justice. I listen to everyone who comes to me and do the best I can to make sure everyone feels heard. That is what is missing in society today. We let people talk, only to form a rebuttal. We try to discredit people whose stories initially seem implausible because of our own experiences. That is probably the most infuriating feeling in the world. I take great pains in trying to understand the issues. Yes, I know I’m an anomaly. I’m okay with that. Recently, I have lost a colleague I genuinely love because of petty bullshit. We are all batshit crazy in our own way and it’s okay to be passionate to fault in causes that are important to us. However, it cannot be okay to be so passionate that we do not have compassion or that we get tunnel vision. I have spent a great deal of time contemplating my own zealousness. Because of this situation, I took a break to gather my thoughts and analyze my focus.
In doing “The Devil Got Appointed in Georgia”, I wanted to show that the same corruption exists in so many places and it is what is undermining our country now. The problem of sidestepping laws to aid friends, bending the law, for whatever reason, makes the scales unbalanced. Holding people to differing levels of lawfulness erodes public trust and confidence in the law and legal system. Corruption is the unseen theme in EVERY case I have discussed. It is my priority to expose it. Wrongful convictions are an epidemic in Florida, as one of the top states in wrongful conviction exonerations. The system is meant to push people, innocent or not, into a system from which their lives are inextricably linked. My agenda is simple: Fix the underlying corruption that destroys lives. Now on to the next case.
This is the beginning of a new series. I wanted to briefly explain the importance of these stories.
Everything that has hurt the people of Pensacola, Escambia County, can be reduced to corruption. Yet no one calls a spade a spade. The “c” word is played down and rarely spoken there. Everyone seems to think it doesn’t really exist, but it does. Any shortcut, work around, favor done that bypasses the law–no matter how insignificant it may seem—is corruption. These practices are so ingrained in the culture, most do not even recognize exactly what is going on. But each of these shortcuts, work arounds, favors means someone else gets hurt in some way. It may not be immediate, or even something the grantor of such things knows happens, but it is a ripple in the water.
Public trust disintegrates; the law is undermined; an example is set; another line in the sand is crossed; the silent echo magnifies into the universe….By the time the harm is felt it is exponentially worse than the little transgressions that created them. People cannot protect themselves from the silent danger they don’t know exists.
Part 1 of this series will be within the next day or so. It begins with a new case. Stand by.
Chapter 6 of “The Devil Got Appointed in Georgia”
We all know those people who relentlessly end up in situations laden with drama. These people genuinely believe other people bring the turmoil to them. They fail to see they are the common denominator in all these encounters.
That is the story of District Attorney Jackie Johnson. She has been involved in numerous cases that were handled questionably. She recently insisted, in a radio interview, that she remained “intentionally ignorant to the facts of this (Ahmaud Arbery) case.” She continued on to say (regarding the reporting of her misconduct by various news outlets), “I think it’s retaliation for me being the whistleblower on their police department,” she said.
Despite Jackie’s protests and renunciations, documentation tells a different tale. The AJC delineated this quite nicely, in their article After Police Chief Indicted, Brunswick DA Recuses Herself from Case.
“Johnson’s office has been caught up in controversy since a video of Arbery’s shooting became public last month, including calls from the public that she be removed. In the Arbery case, Carr asked state and federal investigators to review Johnson’s conduct and the man she helped bring into the case, Waycross District Attorney George Barnhill. Johnson notified Carr she had a conflict after Barnhill had already been actively involved in the case and had made an initial determination that no crime was committed. Carr has been critical of their actions, which violated state guidelines for recusals.”
For being over five counties, Camden, Glynn, Wayne, Appling and Jeff Davis, Jackie seems to be involved in a great number of “conflict cases” for her 10 years in the position. Twenty seven. That doesn’t include the Arbery Case.
Here is a list of all the cases, she’s recused herself from in the last 10 years.
I may be a bit ignorant to legalese but the fact that there is an” Appointee” column certainly appears that Jackie was the appointer. In a press release by Attorney General of Georgia, Chris Carr in relation to the Ahmaud Arbery case, Carr states:
On April 7, 2020, the Office of the Attorney General received a request from the Office of the District Attorney for the Waycross Judicial Circuit to appoint another prosecutor for this case. In that request, the Waycross Circuit District Attorney again did not inform the Office of the Attorney General of his prior involvement in the case before his appointment and specifically described to the Office of the Attorney General the actions that he took “upon taking the case.” In the request of April 7, 2020, the Waycross Circuit District Attorney indicated that he and the Brunswick Circuit District Attorney learned as of “about 3-4 weeks ago,” that his son who is employed as a prosecutor in the Office of the Brunswick Circuit District Attorney had handled a prior prosecution of Mr. Arbery and that one of the defendants in this case had also served as an investigator on the same prosecution. The request of April 7, 2020 did not provide any reason for the delay in contacting the Office of the Attorney General to request appointment of a new prosecutor since the discovery of those facts. Nor did the request of April 7, 2020, reveal that, on April 2, 2020, the Waycross Circuit District Attorney had provided the Glynn County Police Department with a written opinion that no arrests should be made in the case. In that letter, the Waycross District Attorney also confirmed “an initial opinion the day after the shooting” which would have been February 24, 2020. At that time, he had not requested, nor was he appointed by the Office of the Attorney General to this case.
On April 13, 2020, the Office of the Attorney General appointed the District Attorney for the Atlantic Judicial Circuit to this case. On May 5, 2020, the Atlantic Circuit District Attorney requested that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) conduct an investigation into the death of Ahmaud Arbery. The GBI commenced its investigation on May 6, 2020 and made two arrests on May 7, 2020.
Carr expressly states no one had the authority to “turn over” the case to the Waycross District Attorney other than him. Yet, Jackie did. In the list of recusals above, Jackie seems to have done just that time and time again. So the problem, that appears to me, is this woman has deemed herself above the Attorney General of Georgia & above the laws of state of Georgia. Has she not usurped her authority repeatedly and customarily appointed whomever she wants, whenever she wanted?
Nevertheless, Carr says this is not procedure. This makes those of us watching amused. That’s Jackie’s home run swing. Assign another district attorney and to ride roughshod over the cases she is “recused”. If, not via the direct pressure on the assistant district attorney, then via her staff under them.
A very good example of this is the civil case filed by Debra Gann, the mother of Katie Settles Sasser. Jackie helped author the complaint according to recent email published. In fact, she aligned the civil case to dovetail the witch-hunt she has undertaken on the Glynn County police chief, John Powell. Additionally the case filed against Powell and others, is clearly political retaliation for not covering up Jackie’s culpability in the events that resulted in 3 deaths. All this can be seen in the lack of finger pointing Gann’s attorneys toward Liberty Stewart, who played a role in the outcome of this entire massacre. That lawsuit doesn’t account for the “but for” principle in Jackie bailing out Sasser over the years beginning with the Caroline Smalls shooting. But for, Jackie’s manipulation of the grand jury, firing of prosecutors willing to push the case forward and failure to let people testify who were relevant and should have testified, it is more than arguable that Sasser, Kettles & Hall would be still alive today. But for, Jackie’s machinations, we would not be seeing the ripple effect on this Georgia community. Irrevocably, she has ridden this town into the cesspool of what we are seeing now. Albatross, indeed.
Machiavelli said, “A prince will never lack for legitimate excuses to explain away his breaches of faith. Modern history will furnish innumerable examples of this behavior, showing how the man succeeded best who knew best how to play the fox. But it is a necessary part of this nature that you must conceal it carefully; you must be a great liar and hypocrite. Men are so simple of mind, and so much dominated by their immediate needs, that a deceitful man will always find plenty who are ready to be deceived.”
An anonymous guest writer from within the Escambia County Sheriff’s office asked me to post this in response to the civil unrest over police brutality. I am compiling a post to accompany this post for later this week.
Behold the Beard
Do we have a loose cannon at the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office as well?
On December 1, 2014, Deputy John Beard and another officer were involved in an incident in which Deputy Beard tased a man five times. The man died a few weeks later and a lawsuit was filed. This is a news article of the incident:
On February 18, 2018, Deputy John Beard hit an arrestee who was already handcuffed. This incident was not caught on video; however, Dep. Beard was cleared of using excessive force because he claimed the arrestee attempted to head-butt him (ECSO18OFF003324).
On July 14, 2019, during the Blue Angel Airshow, Dep. Beard was attempting to arrest a subject on Pensacola Beach. The video of this incident went viral and depicts Dep. Beard on a man’s back. The man was in the water and appeared to be resisting, or not complying with, Dep. Beard. Dep. Beard punched the male and eventually took the man into custody. Several officers observed on the video stood around and did not assist Dep. Beard. Text messages between administrative employees at the ECSO indicated that the man was in the hospital, unconscious, two days later. The arrestee was said to have been extremely intoxicated at the time of the incident. Deputy Beard may have also injured his hand during the incident as well because he was seen in a news video with a cast on his arm not long after the Blue Angel Airshow. According to a PNJ news article, the ECSO stated that they would be reviewing the Blue Angel incident. The results of this review have not been released publicly to my knowledge.
On 09/15/2019, Deputy Beard was again involved in an arrest in which he hit a man who was already in handcuffs. Again, Deputy Beard claimed the man attempted to head-butt him, but according to the other officer on scene this did not happen. The other officer on scene, Dep. Ward, noted in his supplemental report that he felt that Dep. Beard’s use of force was excessive. The incident was investigated and Dep. Beard was EXONERATED!! What happened to the whistleblower in this case? The other officer on scene? Just as expected, and in true David Morgan style, Dep. Ward was suspended for a week without pay. The ECSO’s new Use of Force Expert is a training Sergeant. That Sergeant claims that many things COULD HAVE happened and Dep. Ward was punished based on what COULD HAVE happened because he did not participate in the incident to the liking of David Morgan. Dep. Ward was never allowed to give his account of the incident and was punished based on, once again, what MIGHT HAVE or COULD HAVE happened. And Deputy Beard? Well, he received no punishment for what actually DID HAPPEN. Why?? Is it because they did not want the public or the attorney for the first case to become aware of Dep. Beard’s actions since the lawsuit was filed? Too late.
And if that’s not enough get this…the Sergeant in training. The new Use of Force Expert, utilized by ECSO’s Internal Affairs Unit as an expert when they deem it necessary, is none other than the Sergeant who left a high-powered rifle and other miscellaneous ECSO equipment/ammo/etc. unsecured in his county-issued vehicle and had the items STOLEN!!! Was this a policy violation? Yes! Did he receive punishment for this incident when the guns and other items ended up on the street in the hands of criminals and some of the equipment was never recovered? NO! He was placed on Administrative Leave with Pay until the incident blew over and then transferred to train the new recruits! Do you think this Sergeant owes David Morgan for overlooking his “little” indiscretion/policy violation enough to write up an Internal Affairs case to David Morgan’s liking? One would tend to believe so.
One would also tend to believe that there may be other incidents involving Dep. Beard that have been overlooked, unreported or under-reported. Public Records requests sent to the ECSO to obtain a copy of the video from the 2019 incident have been ignored and unfilled. Why? David Morgan believes he is above the LAW!
Chapter 5 of “The Devil Got Appointed in Georgia”
I’ve often wondered what people are thinking when they do the things they do. Do they have any intuition or pangs of the events forthcoming? Katie Sasser expressed an ominous prediction, possibly not fully appreciating the gravity of the words. Her mother recounted her saying, “the Glynn County Police Department will do nothing until someone leaves here out of a body bag.” While that statement, in and of itself is not completely true, I am sure Katie believed they were true and the parts she got right, chills me to my core.
Provided by FirstCoastNews.com
This is the bodycam footage captured after Sasser’s first domestic violence incident.
The Glynn County Police Department went to extraordinary lengths to prevent Cory Sasser from what he ultimately did. There is documented evidence of how Chief Powell tried to keep Sasser in jail after his prior episode. It can be found in the court documents and the Baxley Informer says:
“However, when Doering retired, a Police Chief was appointed that Jackie Johnson could not control. Someone who rearranged how the department was run. Someone who wanted transparency and honesty with the public. Somebody who, unfortunately, some in the community are now calling for the County Commissioners to terminate—the current Police Chief, John Powell.
As a rule, the Baxley Informer does not back political candidates, however, since the Chief of Police is not an elected position, we have decided to make an exception in this instance.
From all the legal documentation we have come across, it appears that Chief Powell is an honest and transparent leader. The Glynn County Commissioners would be making a colossal mistake if they caved to public opinion and fired him.”https://www.baxleyinformer.com/post/jackie-johnson-s-path-to-destruction
Here is a timeline of events (compiled from timelines from the FBI and D.A.’s office respectively)
GBI timeline from May 29, 2018-June 25, 2018
Very different events description not a lot of details in Jackie’s version. No real info about the circumstances leading up nor is there mention of her part in them.
Going on to the following days:
Each of the ****** next to events indicates a point of contact that was either law enforcement or court officer by Sasser. In the last two days, there are 34 times someone with training had contact with this man prior to him “going postal”. Think about that. 34 times there were opportunities in that last two days that something/someone should have intervened. Wow.
Here is Jackie’s version:
Of course in Jackie’s version, nothing is mentioned about contact with her office via Liberty Stewart, which happened twice that day.
Lawyers are taught about a thing called the “but-for” test. If “but for” x, y would not happen. If, but for Jackie’s behind the scenes shucking and jiving, Katie Sasser and John Hall, would be alive.
Chapter 4 of “The Devil Got Appointed in Georgia”
Robert “Cory” Sasser was a loose cannon as an officer of the law in Glynn County, Georgia. In the course of time, he went even further beyond just being a loose cannon. Despite the fact, Sasser barged into his ex-wife’s home and threatened her, his actions were still not taken earnestly by officials and the judicial system. The Glynn County Police Department had him arrested for Domestic Violence. After being arrested, with privileged expeditiousness, Sheriff Neal Jump pulled strings by calling a judge after hours to do a bail hearing to get Sasser out of jail. This is the impetus of everything to come.
The domestic violence incident was May 13, 2018. At some point that night or the next day, Sasser and his friend, Robert Hamilton Moore, contacted Joanna Hall, the wife of the man with Sasser’s ex-wife to tell her about the affair between Katie Sasser and John Hall, Joanna’s husband. Sasser continued to annihilate every part of his relationship with Katie and created mass chaos, all around. The importance of this, is that it should have been another red flag for the trained professionals looking on. Although, it was not wildly known at the time, Sasser expanded his madness to include other people. Several “friends” of Sasser who were law enforcement officers should have seen his contacting of Joanna Hall as an alarming progression of the dire circumstances as they were occurring.
According to the Baxley Informer:
“Attorney Alan Tucker was contacted on May 15, 2018, by an employee of Judge Bart Altman and asked to represent Cory in court. Keep in mind that Judge Bart Altman was Cory Sasser’s defense attorney during the Caroline Small shooting. Caroline’s murder, and the way it was handled, had come under scrutiny over the years. Because of that, Jackie Johnson and Judge Bart Altman had a vested interest in keeping Cory’s name out of the media.”
Special protocols should have been taken. However, in a divine reprieve, another intervening opportunity manifested. In the morning hours of May 17th, after Sasser was released, he called a another friend, Perri Rothemich. While on the phone with Rothemich, a gunshot was heard. Because of concern over Sasser’s welfare, officers and deputies started a search for him. After several hours, they eventually find him in a wooded area in his vehicle. Contact is made with Sasser and the SWAT team was called in. A standoff ensued. When SWAT descended on the vehicle, they found Sasser had not injured himself but they had to taser him to take him into custody for violating the terms of his bond. He was also charged with 2 felony counts of Obstruction of Justice for this standoff.
It was decided to take Sasser to a hospital for psychiatric evaluation. The Sheriff and the Judges allowed this to happen preventing any arrest for felony charges by the Glynn County Police Department. They allowed Sasser to voluntarily admit himself to the facility for treatment with the caveat that if he checked himself out, prior to being discharge, he would be taken into the custody of the Glynn County Sheriff Neal Jump. This seems out of line with the best interest of the county as it was Sheriff Jump who sidestepped due process to prevent a criminal from spending time in jail.
While Sasser was in the treatment facility, Chief Powell went to the FBI in an effort to get federal intervention with Sasser to prevent any further issues.
On May 21, 2018, when Sasser was released from treatment into Sheriff Jump’s custody. According to the Baxley Informer, still pulling strings for Sasser behind the scenes, Jackie arranged for a bond hearing on the felony charges and even appeared in this hearing. Court transcripts show that to be the case.
The Baxley Informer, also, reports:
“….On May 24, 2018, thirty minutes before Cory Sasser’s bond hearing, Officer Hyer, one of the officers who Cory assaulted, (during the standoff) talked to A.D.A John B. Johnson. John immediately started the meeting by stating, ‘just want you to know that I will listen to everything that you have to say, but regardless of what you say, I am going to tell the judge that Cory needs to be released’.
A.D.A John B. Johnson’s mind was made up, and nothing anyone said would change it.
A.D.A John B. Johnson continued by asking Officer Hyer how long he had been a police officer. When Officer Hyer answered, “four years,” John condescendingly responded, “Well, I’ve been doing this for forty-one years and in my experience, there have been very few times where the offender has actually come back and actually sought violence against the victims.”
Officer Hyer disagreed. He was concerned for the other victims and believed that Cory Sasser would try to kill him. Then when Officer Hyer asked if he would be allowed to make a statement in court, John Johnson told him that he “should be able to.”
Per the Georgia Victim’s Bill Of Rights, Officer Hyer didn’t need John Johnson’s permission to give a statement in court—as a victim, he had a right to give it. Despite knowing this, John Johnson neglected to recognize Officer Hyer during the hearing and never told the judge he’d wanted to speak.
John Johnson violated Officer Hyer’s rights, and then completely disregarded the concerned statements made by Katie Sasser reported in the Crime Victim Liason logs (which, by the way, the district attorneys can access from their office).”
So without much consideration given, on May 24, 2018, Judge Flay Cabiness granted the bond agreement negotiated between the DA’s office. Requirements in that agreement were for Sasser to turn over his guns to his oldest son and declare that Sasser be banished from Glynn County except for court appearances as well as barring contact with Katie Sasser or the officers he’d assaulted. The judge added that Sasser would be required to check in with his probation officer and showing his location via an app on his smartphone. This was in contrast to the requirements suggested by Chief Powell which were an GPS ankle monitor and seizure of Sasser’s weapons rather than depending on him to turn over weapons.
The phone app used for Sasser to check in on, was wholly voluntary as Sasser had to open the app and manually sign in to show his location versus the recommendation by Chief Powell, which would have kept constant track of Sasser’s whereabouts without his permission. But Sasser had no intention of using the app; he contacted his probation officer to advise he would be seeking to modify the bond requirements and thus would not be setting up the app at all. The judge and the DA essentially left it to Sasser to comply even though he’d shown he was willing to violate his bond previously and was in a dangerously passionate marriage break up. Right off the bat, Sasser was changing the terms without anyone having any concern about the possible fallout.
As to be expected, Sasser didn’t honor his terms. Officer Hyer was right.
CHAPTER 3 OF THE DEVIL WAS APPOINTED IN GEORGIA
Robert “Cory” Sasser’s law enforcement career was marred by repetitive behavioral and procedural transgressions. Quite obviously, he was an albatross around the Glynn County Police Department’s neck. His extensive Internal Affairs cases tell a story of a man who had serious problems with authority, and a brazen & corrosive contempt for the rules. His increasing disregard for all people & things is shamefully apparent to everyone around this man. Intelligent professionals, who were around him day to day, should have seen Sasser for what he was, a train wreck waiting to happen.
Here is a brief summary of Sasser’s documented discipline issues & indiscretions (2001-2011):
Note, there is a huge gap from 2005-2011; there is no hint of the Caroline Smalls shooting in 2010 nor is there a mention of another dubitable shooting of a drug dealer in 2005. In this shooting, again, he shot the suspect through the windshield. Perplexingly, he was cleared for both shootings; however, the departmental policies and procedures that were no doubt violated, are absent in this laundry list of Sasser’s misbehavior. Another exclusion is an incident in January, 2011. Sasser arrogantly flaunted the fact he was “untouchable” to his colleagues.
Understanding Sasser’s history of perpetual and escalating misdeeds, a practiced legal professional had the duty to weigh the second shooting in 2010 (a shooting that was nothing less than first degree murder) heavily. D.A. Jackie Johnson made the purposeful, informed choice to disregard Sasser’s pattern of escalating misbehavior. She willfully undermined the prosecution of Sasser and in that act, she diverged from the position of D.A., electing, instead, to become Sasser’s voluntary co-conspirator in any and all crimes he, later, committed . And as to be expected, Sasser and Jackie’s stories marched into historical notoriety.
In May of 2018, after Sasser and his wife, Katie, separate. Predictably, he began terrorizing her. This is body cam footage from an incidence on the 13th of May, 2018:
Sasser is not arrested during this incidence. Anyone else would have been arrested, without question, on the spot. On Monday, the 15th, when Chief Powell finds out about this event, he lost his cool. Based on Sasser’s “untouchable” standing with the D.A., Powell requested the elected Solicitor General, who, in Georgia, reviews & prosecutes criminal cases, and the Chief Judge Magistrate, to review the evidence for potential criminal charges. This was not protocol but Chief Powell believed his office would be seen as bias and the D.A., who works hand in hand with judges, may subvert the case and criminal charges. The Solicitor General, believed to be a lesser biased politician, and Chief Judge Magistrate reviewed the case and the body cam footage. Both agreed that despite the responding officers’ belief that there was no probable cause for arrest, the Solicitor General and Chief Magistrate found probable cause did exist for Sasser’s arrest that night. Their decision was that only misdemeanor charges of simple battery and criminal trespass provided that probable cause. An IA was initiated on Sasser and was put on admin leave without pay until the IA was concluded. The officers on the scene of this domestic violence event were later disciplined by Chief Powell for their failure to take the appropriate action the night of the incident. Their relationship with Sasser recklessly tainted their judgment.
On the following Thursday, May 17th, Sasser turned himself in. Enigmatically, before anyone knew he had turned himself in, he was released on bond. Sheriff Neal Jump facilitated his bond and ensured Sasser received an expedited first appearance, outside of normal court scheduling. Jump also gained an extraordinarily fastidious release for Sasser on domestic violence charges. Sasser, literally, bonded out within the hour after his arrest. Here are the documents from this arrest, including the bond :
A victim advocate contacted Katie Sasser to tell her of her husband’s arrest and immediate release. The victim advocate was concerned about Cory’s welfare, believing him to be suicidal. It isn’t clear that this advocate feared for Katie Sasser’s well being. By all accounts, it was suggested Cory Sasser was the focus of concern, rather than his wife. This was uncustomary all the way around. Sasser’s history was indicative of someone who would re-offend in this situation. Domestic violence cases have such a high predictability of ending with murder or suicide. That is the reason risk assessment measures by trained officers on the scene and the legal system are educated on perils and statistical consequences involved in domestic violence cases; it is they that dictate the level of precautions to be taken.
Despite the cumulative training, all the professionals involved had (you guessed it), this was not the end of the story.
Before I move on to the next saga which will be Cory Sasser’s IA record, I want to restate that this entire shit show only happens because of corruption. For now, it bears understanding a bit more the backstory to the Caroline Small Shooting. To those of us without that sort of Machiavellian thinking, which must be factory installed, it is stupefying to see all the behind the scenes machinations. That is why I want to go back to the appointment of Jackie Johnson.
The District Attorney, prior to the shooting, Stephen Kelley, was appointed to a Circuit Court judgeship and had named his predecessor for the remainder of his term, (roughly less than 6 months), as David Perry. Perry disclosed publicly, he wasn’t running for the position in November of that year. He was always strictly a temporary prosecutor. Unbeknownst to him at the time, he became more temporary than even he thought.
When he originally watched the dashcam video of the Smalls shooting with Chief Doering, (included in the prior post) Perry reportedly turned green and instantly decided this was a criminal event and he would be seeking indictments against the officers involved in that shooting. After hearing him say this in the press, Jackie Johnson, who announced she was running in the November election for that position, went to the then Glynn County Police Chief Matt Doering. Doering who vocally sided with the officers put himself on the opposite side of justice and this issue with Perry. Doering simultaneously was dealing with the GBI (Georgia Bureau of Investigation). They were called in to review the actions of the Glynn County Police Dept. This resulted into a parallel investigation. There were continuous clashes between the policing agencies and resulted in finger pointing from both sides. Glynn County Police Officer, Tommy Tindale, head of Internal Affairs outright told GBI agents that they were only called in “for public perception”, implying the GBI was supposed to feign to investigate, while allowing the police department to make the real determination. This sort of statement is brazen and very reminiscent of Chicago in the 1920’s.
Further, flaunting the perversion of justice, Doering, in a gesture that should be insignificant in the overall scheme of things, wrote a letter to then Governor Sonny Perdue recommending Jackie Johnson be appointed immediately, prior to the November election. In a more paradoxical deviation of all reasoning, Perdue acquiesced and removed Perry, replacing him with Jackie. She, then, unsurprisingly, summarily fired Perry for his handling of this case as well as ceasing the proceedings, while lambasting Perry for the convening of a grand jury against Sasser and Simpson. She cited increased friction with the Glynn County Police Department that could not be tolerated. However, no one else was cognizant of any friction between the DA’s office and the Glynn County Police except perhaps Matt Doering. Point of fact, the friction was between the GBI and the Glynn Police and the DA’s office that Jackie’s appointment further exacerbated.
After Perry’s firing, the ADA’s in the office with Jackie were targeted, as described in the prior post. Keith Higgins maintained the physical file of this case in his office until his termination. He is adamant Jackie never once came down to get that file to review while he was still employed, even when she was preparing the purely theatrical grand jury later seated with the officers having the upper hand. Her appointment by Perdue is confounding, especially considering, Perry was sufficiently navigating the waters of a powder keg case that Sasser and Simpson lit with their 8 shots into the windshield of a single mother.
My questions, so far, in this mockery of justice are:
- What individual motives are there for all the actors to obfuscate justice? Is it a common incentive or do they individually have motivation? Or is it, truly, that these people are so inept that they cannot investigate a crime?
- Why did Doering’s recommendation carry so much weight to prompt the governor to replace Perry, right then? Was there more than just Doering’s recommendation that paved the way for Jackie to jump in?
- Why is Sasser, specifically, important to protect?
The Caroline Small case is more than a tragedy; it is a state sanctioned murder. No sense has ever been made of this single solitary event, let alone the events that were to come. Arthur Conan Doyle said it best, “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” To have the outcome in cases like Caroline Smalls, or Patrick Gonzalez Jr., where there is no real quest for the truth, after all other explanations are ruled out, all that is left is corruption.