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Former Jackson Co. deputy convicted of planting drugs asking to be freed pending appeal

Zachary Wester is taken away in handcuffs following the verdict Tuesday.
Zachary Wester is taken away in handcuffs following the verdict Tuesday.(WCTV)
Published: Jul. 9, 2021 at 12:07 PM EDT
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JACKSON COUNTY, Fla. (WCTV) - A former Jackson County deputy convicted of planting drugs during traffic stops is asking a judge to release him from jail pending the outcome of an appeal.

Zachary Wester is scheduled to be sentenced next Tuesday, July 13, on racketeering, fabricating evidence, official misconduct and other charges following guilty verdicts at trial in May 2021.

Wester’s appellate attorney, Michael Ufferman, filed a request this week asking the judge to release Wester pending the outcome of an appeal, saying, “Mr. Wester will diligently prosecute his appeal.”

Ufferman is asking the judge to consider the request immediately after the sentencing hearing on Tuesday.

Ufferman cited Wester’s respect for the law and deep ties to the area in the five-page motion. He also cited court rules which would allow Wester to be released because he has never before been convicted of a felony and is filing the appeal in good faith.

“All persons who have been adjudicated guilty of the commission of any offense, not capital, may be released, pending review of the conviction, at the discretion of the trial or the appellate court,” Ufferman wrote.

Wester was found guilty of racketeering and 18 other charges linked to the traffic stops of Teresa Odom, Joshua Emanuel and Steven Vann.

Prosecutors claim Wester kept meth in his patrol car along with an already positive field test kit. They relied heavily on the body camera footage of Wester and assisting deputies to make their case against him.

Jackson County court records show Wester is set to be sentenced Tuesday at 2:45 p.m. in front of Judge James Goodman.

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