Tallahassee Man Sentenced to Life for Molesting Young Girl

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UPDATED by Julie Montanaro
May 9, 2013 7pm

A jury deliberated for more than three hours.

According to prosecutor John Hutchins, the jury found Fletcher Smith guilty of one count of sexual battery on a child under 12.

It found him not guilty on two more counts.

The child molestation conviction carries a mandatory life sentence.

Judge Caloca Johnson has already sentenced Fletcher Smith to life in prison.

Smith is a person of interest in a double murder. He's never been charged in that case. It's not clear if this conviction will impact that ongoing investigation.

UPDATED by Julie Montanaro
May 9, 2013

Fletcher Smith is accused of molesting the girl over a span of six years.

She took the stand Thursday and told the jury what she remembered about the first time when she was just six years old.

"He called me into the room and started undressing me."

"Did he say anything to you?" the prosecutor asked.


"What did he say?"

"Don't worry it won't hurt," the victim said.

The girl testified Smith molested her at a friend's apartment that day, at a friend's home another time and once even took her to a West Tennessee Street motel.

"No sir, never did that, never would," Smith said.

Smith took the stand too. Telling the jury none of it ever happened.

"I never in my life touched her. She was lying about that. I never touched her any type of way. Never harmed her. I have no reason to harm her for," Smith said.

Smith's attorney claims the girl made up the story when he stopped taking her places and buying her things. He claims there is no witness testimony of physical evidence to back up her story.

"All you'll have is his word versus her word. It's going to come down to who you beleive," defense attorney David Collins said.

"There are certain crimes where there are just two people present. Only two people know what happened," prosecutor John Hutchins said.

The jury is now deliberating in the trial of Fletcher Smith.

WCTV will bring you more tonight on Eyewitness News.

Tallahassee, FL - Fletcher Smith is now on trial. Smith is accused of molesting a girl from the time she was 6 until she was 12 years old. The girl claims Smith molested her at an apartment and later at a home and a hotel.

Fletcher Smith took the stand and denied ever touching the girl inappropriately.

UPDATED 1.25.2013 by Julie Montanaro

The judge was on the bench and the jury was waiting outside, but a Tallahassee man set to stand trial for molesting a young girl will have to wait in jail a while longer.

Fletcher Smith will face life in prison for it if he's convicted.

Yet his trial was delayed Friday after the defense attorney announced two "last minute" witnesses.

The state wanted to stop them from testifying, but the judge said with a life sentence on the line, she wouldn't do that.

Fletcher Smith briefly took the stand and swore he told his previous attorneys about the witnesses months ago and had a letter in the court file to prove it.

"They never heard my side of the story. They never did nothing to try to prove my innocence or nothing. They didn't never try to help me. They been knowed about it, so, I mean this has gone on two years. They been knowing," Smith said under oath.

His current attorney David Collins found the letter in the court file and held it up in court.

The judge delayed the case and dismissed the jury so the state would have time to interview the two witnesses and investigate further. A new trial date has not been set.

The state attorney still considers Smith a "person of interest" in a double murder in Hartsfield Woods in October 2011, but he has never been charged in that case.

We'll let you know when Smith's molestation trial is rescheduled.

Tallahassee, Florida-Tallahassee Police are offering a monetary reward in hopes of closing a year-old double-murder investigation.

Last October, three people where shot inside a home on Veda Drive.

Two of them died. A third, a teenage girl, was critically hurt. She's since recovered.

Tallahassee Police are now offering a $10,000 reward for any information leading to an arrest and conviction in the shooting.

"As time goes by, cases tend to fade away. But what we want the public to know is that we are still trying to find the person who did this. We are not letting this go," says Officer David Northway, public spokesperson for the Tallahassee Police Department.

Police have named Fletcher Smith a person of interest. Smith was arrested shortly after the shooting on an unrelated charge sexual battery on one of the shooting victims.

Anyone with any information is asked to call the Tallahassee Police Department.

TPD Release

TPD Offers Reward for Information in Unsolved Murder:

On October 24, 2011 Tallahassee Police officers responded to 2703 Veda Drive in reference to a shooting. Once inside the home, officers found two people deceased and another shot with life threatening injuries. The victim who was shot was immediately transported to a local hospital for treatment where she eventually recovered from her injuries.

During the course of the investigation, TPD discovered one of the shooting victims was also the victim of a sexual battery. Fletcher Smith has been arrested for the sexual battery and is also a person of interest in the homicide investigation.

TPD Homicide investigators are continuing to follow all leads and review the evidence in this case. TPD is asking anyone with information about this case to please contact Investigator Phil Hinds at 891-4731. On the one year anniversary of this tragedy, Chief Dennis Jones has authorized a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons who is responsible for this crime.

"We will continue to aggressively investigate this case until all avenues are exhausted and will not stop until the responsible parties are brought to justice. We will work in conjunction with the State Attorney to bring peace to the surviving family members," said Chief Dennis Jones.

UPDATED 4.10.2012 by Julie Montanaro

A man considered a "person of interest" in a Tallahassee double murder is trying to get out of jail.

Fletcher Smith has never been charged with the killings and his attorney has asked the judge to set bond. He was in court for a bond hearing today.

The murder victims' family spoke out for the first time today since the early morning murders.

Fletcher Smith has been in jail for the past six months. He's accused of molesting a young girl.

State Attorney Willie Meggs says Smith is also a person of interest in a shocking double murder.

Yet Smith has never been charged with that crime. So his attorney asked the judge to let him out of jail to await trial.

"It was a big surprise to us when they told us that he was trying to get out," John Bell said. "My main concern was the kids and everything, making sure everybody was fine."

John Bell's younger sister Yamada Bell and her husband Jermaine Siplin were murdered in their Hartsfield Woods home in October 2011. Court documents say they were shot and killed in their own bed.

Prosecutors are fighting to keep Smith behind bars. Court documents stop short of calling him a suspect in the murders, but the state attorney now admits Fletcher Smith is a "person of interest."

"Your honor, quite candidly I have not spoken to Mr. Smith yet," said defense attorney David Collins.

Smith's family hired a new lawyer just one day before the bond hearing. He's the third attorney assigned to the case.

The judge allowed Collins to postpone the bond request.

"Mr. Smith is being held without bond until anything happens," Circuit Judge Mark Walker said.

Family members of the murdered couple had planned to testify. They say they're disappointed, but will be back to make sure Fletcher Smith stays behind bars.

"We know it's a long process," John Bell said, "but in due time, we know things are going to work out and we believe in the Lord that everything is going to come to an end and everything is going to be alright."

The judge did not set a new date for the bond hearing. He says he'll try to do that by April 24th.

UPDATED 11.3.2011 by Julie Montanaro

Tallahassee Police are not releasing any new information in a double murder that claimed the lives of Yamada Bell and Jermaine Siplin back on October 24th.

TPD Spokesman David Northway says investigators are still following leads and evaluating evidence in the case. He says TPD has not named any suspects and is not commenting on a motive.

We were the first to report that one of Bell's ex-boyfriends was arrested on an outstanding warrant the same day as the murders. The sexual battery warrant was issued back in March.

TPD still will not comment on whether he is a suspect or if he is linked to the crime in any way.
UPDATED 11.3.2011 by Julie Montanaro

FAMU's college radio station, WANM, launched a food and clothing drive today to help the children of the victims in this double homicide and the family of a slain cab driver.

In each case, three young children were left behind.

WANM is hoping to provide a Thanksgiving basket to each family and clothes for the children.

WANM is airing an announcement every hour in hopes that listeners will donate items and bring them to the station in FAMU's School of Journalism.

"We obviously can't bring their parents back," said programming director Jacquell Lawson (known on the air as "The Apostle), "but we can try to uplift their spirits so we just kinda want to help out and say we're there, we love you and you know, anyway we can be there we want to try to do that."

Here is the wish list provided by WANM:

For the children of victims in the double homicide:




For the children of slain cab driver O'Bryan Brandy:



UPDATED 10.26.2011 by Julie Montanaro

Tallahassee Police are not releasing any new information about a double homicide in Hartsfield Woods Monday.

A TPD spokesman could not provide an update on the condition of the third person who was injured.
UPDATED 10.25.2011 by Julie Montanaro

A double murder that stunned neighbors in Hartsfield Woods is still a whodunnit.

Tallahassee police revealed today the family was targeted, but will not say why or by whom.

Police revealed today that not only had Jermaine Siplin and Yamada Bell been killed, but there were other family members there at the time and one of them was hurt.

Forensic crews were still at work at 2703 Veda Street Tuesday, more than 24 hours after police were called to a disturbance and found 31 year old Jermaine Siplin and 30 year old Yamada Bell
dead inside the home.

Police say they are trying to find out who did it and why.

"Are you releasing any information on who you are looking for or if there are any vehicles you're looking for?"

"If and when that information becomes available to me, I will certainly get it to you as fast as I possibly can," TPD spokesman Dave Northway said.

We interviewed Yamada Bell in May as she fretted over how she would pay a $1200 electric bill.

"I've got four kids, I have to keep the lights on." she said.

Police revealed that there were other family members home at the time Siplin and Bell were murdered and one of them was hurt.

Sources tell us a teenage daughter is hospitalized, but police won't confirm that or reveal the extent of the person's injuries.

"She was injured in the incident, the details are not available to me at this time. Again, because we believe that the family was targeted, we want to take all precautions and keep everybody's best interest at heart, which is the safety of the family," Northway said.

The other family members are safe and staying at an undisclosed location while police try to track down the killer. If you have information, call Crime Stoppers at 850-574-TIPS.

We did discover today that one of the mother's ex-boyfriends was arrested late last night on an outstanding felony warrant that was issued back in March.

U.S. Marshals confirm he was arrested in Midway after police asked for their help tracking him down.

Neither marshals nor police will comment on whether that man is being questioned or if he is considered a person of interest in the double murder.
Tallahassee, FL -- October 25, 2011

Pictures of the crime scene can be found by clicking on the "Photos" tab above.

A third victim sustained injuries in the incident and is currently receiving medical attention at an appropriate facility.

The information about the third victim was not released previously to ensure all security measures were in place for the safety of this victim.

The on-going investigation has led investigators to believe the family is being targeted and for this reason the details of the case are being withheld, allowing the investigators currently working the crimes to develop and work all aspects of the case.

The other family members, who were home at the time, were not injured in the incident and are all safe in an undisclosed location.

Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call the Tallahassee Police Department at (850) 891-4200 or Crime Stoppers at (850) 574-8487.


Tallahassee, Florida - October 25, 2011 -

A double homicide stumped neighbors in Hartsfield Woods and police are tight lipped about what happened inside the house, and who, if anyone, they're looking for.

Two police forensic vans are parked outside a home on 2703 Veda Street and crime scene crews are working behind those doors.

31-year-old Jermaine Siplin and 30-year-old Yamada Bell were found dead at this home early yesterday morning. Police will not say how they died or if they have a motive or suspect in the case at this point. Neighbors tell us several children live here. Sources tell us the teenage daughter is hospitalized, but we do not yet know why.


UPDATE 10-24-2011
TPD Press Release


This morning at approximately 4:30a.m., the Tallahassee Police Department responded to 2703 Veda Street in reference to a disturbance called in by a neighbor. Once on scene, officers located two people deceased inside the residence.

TPD's Criminal Investigation Division and the Forensic Unit responded to the location and began to investigate what has now been determined to be a double homicide. At this time, investigators are following all leads and exploring all possible scenarios, in this on-going investigation.

Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call the Tallahassee Police Department at (850) 891-4200 or Crime Stoppers at (850) 574-8487.

Victims identified as follows:
Jermaine Wendell Siplin Black Male DOB: 07/27/80
Yamanda Sheree Bell Black Female DOB: 11/11/80


UPDATE 10-24-2011
by Jerry Askin

Tallahassee, FL --

At least two people are found dead inside a Tallahassee home. Family and friends have lots of questions what happened inside that house in Hartsfield Woods.

"It's a huge shock, and definitely something that would worry someone, but hopefully this would be the first and last time."

Marissa Gajos has lived in her Hartsfield Woods neighborhood for only a few months. She says it's usually quiet, but now she's more alert after hearing that multiple people were found dead in this home around 4:30 Monday morning.

Gajos says, "The road that it happened on is the road that my sister and I walk my dog on every single day, so I'm definitely not gonna be taking anymore late night strolls."

Police would not tell us how many people were killed or how they died, but they call the multiple deaths "suspicious."

Dustin Pelt/Neighor says, "It'a a shame, I wish everyone could just get along. When you fight and argue you sometimes do things you otherwise wouldn't do.'

Family and friends have been out here all day, they're in shock and disbelief, just wanting answers about what happened here at this home.

Family members grieved outside the home all day, demanding answers from police about what happened and why? Neighbors - worried about their own safety - are anxious to know too

Gajos adds,"Definitely upsetting, I just can't believe something like this would happen here."


Tallahassee, Florida - October 24, 2011 - Noon -

At least two people are found dead inside a Tallahassee home early this morning. TPD received the call around 4:30 this morning and they're still working to figure out who is responsible for the multiple deaths at this home.

Caution tape and forensic trucks crowded the home on the 2700 block of Veda Street in Tallahassee. Police say they got the call from a neighbor who heard loud noises coming from the home early Monday morning. Police would not tell us how many people were found dead or any other information. About 20 friends and family members were gathered at the scene, but did not want to go on camera. Many of them were very emotional and crying, all still waiting for answers. People living nearby are in shock that this happened in their quiet neighborhood.

Officers say it's an ongoing investigation and they'll release more information later.


Tallahassee, Florida - October 24, 2011 -

The Tallahassee Police Department is investigating suspicious deaths at 2703 Veda Street in the Hartsfield Woods subdivision, according to Officer David Northway with TPD.

Around 4:30 this morning, a neighbor called police about a disturbance.

We will bring you more information as it becomes available.

We have a reporter on the scene. Stay with WCTV for details.

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