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Former deputy found guilty of 19 charges, including fabricating evidence

Updated: May. 18, 2021 at 2:34 PM CDT
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JACKSON COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - A former Jackson County Sheriff’s Deputy accused of planting drugs during traffic stops was found guilty of 19 charges against him.

Zachary Wester’s trial began last week at the Jackson County Courthouse. Wester was facing 67 charges, including racketeering, official misconduct, perjury, fabricating evidence, possession of controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, and false imprisonment.

Tuesday, a Jackson County jury found Wester guilty of 19 of those charges and not guilty of 48. This after six days of hearing arguments from both the state and the defense. The jury began deliberating Monday afternoon and returned the verdict Tuesday afternoon.

In 2018, Wester worked for the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement began investigating Wester after the sheriff’s office asked them to. Wester was arrested by FDLE in July 2019.

Body camera video from some of Wester’s encounters was shown during his trial. The videos appeared to show Wester planting drugs inside vehicles of people he had pulled over.

On day five of the trial, Wester himself took the stand and denied all allegations against him.

Defense Attorney Ryan Davis: “Crystallized residue and other items that you found in and around the vehicle. Did you plant any of that in there?”

Zachary Wester: “No I did not.”

Davis: “And the report that you wrote in that case, is this a true and accurate report?”

Wester: “It is.”

Davis: “Is there anything false in this report?”

Wester: “Nothing.”

Wester was taken into custody and is being held at the Jackson County Jail. His pre-sentence hearing is scheduled for Monday, May 24th. At this time, Wester’s sentencing has not been set.

A jury found Wester guilty of:

  • Guilty of racketeering
  • Guilty of official misconduct, related to Teresa Odom
  • Guilty of official misconduct, related to Joshua Emanuel
  • Guilty of official misconduct, related to Steven Vann
  • Guilty of perjury, related to Teresa Odom
  • Guilty of perjury, related to Joshua Emanuel
  • Guilty of perjury, related to Steven Vann
  • Guilty of fabricating evidence, related to Teresa Odom
  • Guilty of fabricating evidence, related to Joshua Emanuel
  • Guilty of fabricating evidence, related to Steven Vann
  • Guilty of possession of a controlled substance related to February 15, 2018
  • Guilty of possession of a controlled substance related to April 17, 2018
  • Guilty of possession of a controlled substance related to August 1, 2018
  • Guilty of possession of a controlled substance related to August 1, 2018
  • Guilty of possession of drug paraphernalia related to February 15, 2018
  • Guilty of possession of drug paraphernalia related to April 17, 2018
  • Guilty of possession of drug paraphernalia related to August 1, 2018
  • Guilty of false imprisonment, related to Teresa Odom
  • Guilty of false imprisonment, related to Steven Vann

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