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Charges for sheriff’s deputy accused of planting evidence likely months away

(WCTV)
Published: Sep. 27, 2018 at 4:46 PM EDT
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By: Mike Vasilinda | Capitol News Service

September 27, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) -- It could be a month or more before charges are filed in the case of a North Florida deputy accused of planting drugs on unsuspecting motorists.

In body camera video released by the Jackson County Sheriff's Office, Deputy Zachery Wester first tells Theresa Odom there is a problem with her brake lights. Then, he says a drug sniffing dog was on the way.

“Instead of doing that, would you consent to a search of your vehicle?” Wester asks Odom in the video.

At about five minutes into the stop, Wester is already searching Odom's car, holding what appears to be a baggie of a white substance in his left hand.

“The one that I saw was clear and the one I saw had some still photos which confirmed what the video showed us,” said Glenn Hess, State Attorney of Florida’s 14th Judicial Circuit.

Presented with the baggie Odom proclaims her innocence, just as others did.

Over 250 cases involving the deputy are being reviewed. This week, 49 of those cases were thrown out.

The deputy was fired, but he has not been charged. Hess says it could be a month or longer before anything happens.

"Until the investigation is completed, we don’t know what charges to file, and we don’t know how many charges to file,” said Hess.

Theresa Odom is free. She declined to be interviewed for fear of jeopardizing the investigation, but she did allow a picture to be taken and in a lengthy conversation both on and off the record, she told us her taillights never malfunctioned.

The Department of Law Enforcement, which is investigating the case, says out of 85,606 law enforcement officers statewide, just 1,154 disciplinary cases were opened last year.