Lopez Sentenced to 15 Years for DUI Manslaughter

Press Release

The Office of State Attorney Glenn Hess announces that on July 11, 2019, Guillermo Serna Lopez pled guilty to DUI Manslaughter and Driving with No Valid License Resulting in Death.  Circuit Judge Christopher Patterson sentenced Lopez to the maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.

The State was prepared to prove that on March 4, 2018, Lopez operated a Dodge Ram truck while under the influence of alcohol and struck the victim, Kimberly Mason, as she operated a Honda Accord at the intersection of SR-79 and Highway 98 in Bay County.  Ms. Mason died instantly from the crash.  Lopez later admitted to consuming alcohol prior to the crash.  His blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit.

The case was investigated by the Panama City Beach Police Department and prosecuted by Assistant State Attorney Peter Overstreet.

For additional information, contact Chief Assistant State Attorney Larry Basford.

Ford Convicted of Leaving the Scene of a Crash Involving Injury

Press Release

The Office of State Attorney Glenn Hess announces that on July 9, 2019, a Bay County jury found Tabatha Ford guilty of Leaving the Scene of a Crash Involving Injury.  Evidence presented at trial proved that the defendant struck Danielle Baskerville with her vehicle in the parking lot of Players and sped off without stopping.

The case was investigated by the Panama City Police Department and prosecuted by Assistant State Attorney Frank Sullivan.  Sentencing is set for July 26 in front of the Honorable Judge Dustin Stephenson.

For additional information, contact Chief Assistant State Attorney Larry Basford.

Thompson Convicted of DUI Causing Serious Bodily Injury

Press Release

The Office of State Attorney Glenn Hess announces that on July 2, 2019, a six-member Bay County jury found Kiersten Thompson guilty of Driving Under the Influence Causing Serious Bodily Injury.

Evidence presented at trial proved that on March 11, 2017, Thompson was visiting Panama City Beach with some friends for a girls’ Spring Break trip.  Thompson had been drinking a combination of alcohol throughout the day when she got into an argument with her friends.  Thompson decided she wanted to leave alone and return to her home in North Carolina in the middle of night.  However, Thompson’s friends had some of her personal belongings and refused to give them back to Thompson because they believed her to be too impaired to safely drive her car.  This led to a confrontation at a parking lot across from the Legacy by the Sea hotel.

Thompson insisted on driving and an argument escalated between herself and one of her good friends, Kassie Gilley.  Thompson was in the driver’s seat of her packed vehicle.  Ms. Gilley was outside the vehicle near the driver’s seat, and behind the open front door.  Thompson proceeded to physically attack Ms. Gilley.  When the rest of the girls came to help Ms. Gilley, and to attempt to stop Thompson from driving, Thompson placed the vehicle in reverse and rapidly accelerated.  As Thompson was reversing, she struck a few of the girls, causing minor injuries.  Unfortunately, Ms. Gilley was caught under the driver’s door and drug on the asphalt for several feet.  Thompson only stopped the vehicle to place it in drive.  Thompson accelerated away from the scene, striking Ms. Gilley a second time.  The second collision broke Ms. Gilley’s pelvis in two different places.  Ms. Gilley had to undergo a serious surgical operation and complete months of physical therapy as a result of the injury.  However, Ms. Gilley testified that she still feels pain every day from the incident.

Thompson was apprehended at a gas station about 15 minutes down the road.  There, she admitted to drinking and consented to giving a sample of her breath.  Thompson’s breath alcohol level was measured at .117 grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.  The legal limit in the State of Florida is .08.

The jury deliberated around four hours before returning a verdict of guilty.  Thompson faces up to five years in the Florida Department of Corrections.  Circuit Judge Brantley Clark, Jr., will sentence Thompson on August 20th, 2019.  Assistant State Attorneys Cord Grimes and Chelsea Stewart prosecuted the case with the help of the Panama City Beach Police Department.

For additional information, contact Chief Assistant State Attorney Larry Basford.

Bennett Sentenced to Life for Murder of Roommate

Press Release

The Office of State Attorney Glenn Hess announces that on July 1, 2019, Circuit Judge Brantley S. Clark, Jr., sentenced Jonathan Bennett to a life sentence in the Department of Corrections.  Bennett was found guilty as charged of First Degree Murder with a Firearm on June 12, 2019.

Assistant State Attorney Bob Sombathy, Chief of Major Crimes, and Assistant State Attorney Cord Grimes proved that on May 29, 2017, Jonathan Bennett shot the victim, Cody Darby, once directly in the throat, but claimed he acted in self-defense. Bennett and Darby were roommates and had exchanged words earlier in the morning of May 29, 2017.  Bennett left the residence abruptly; went to his grandmother’s home to retrieve a 410 shotgun; returned to the residence and walked directly to Darby’s room; killing him in his sleep.  This case was investigated by the Bay County Sheriff’s Office, case agent Investigator Amy Burnette.

For additional information, contact Chief Assistant State Attorney Larry Basford.

Hudson Sentenced to Life Without Parole for Second Degree Murder

Press Release

The Office of State Attorney Glenn Hess announces that on June 28, 2019, Circuit Judge Brantley Clark, Jr., accepted Steven Hudson’s plea to Second Degree Murder and Felon in Possession of a Firearm, and sentenced Hudson to Life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Evidence revealed that on August 17, 2018, Steven Hudson, an estranged boyfriend, shot and killed 42-year-old Ashley Adams Brooks Smith at Hudson’s residence in Lynn Haven, Florida.  After killing her, Hudson fled the scene and was later caught with the murder weapon in his truck.  Hudson entered an “open plea” to the court with no sentence agreement with the State.  Hudson could have been sentenced anywhere within the range of 25 years to Life under Florida’s 10-20-Life law.  Hudson asked the court for a sentence in the 35-year range, citing a history of mental health issues.  Assistant State Attorney Bob Sombathy argued for a life sentence based on the violent nature of the murder, Hudson’s significant criminal record, and the fact that Hudson had only been out of prison about 6 months before murdering Ms. Smith.

The case was investigated by the Lynn Haven Police Department, case agent Corporal Steve Enfinger, and prosecuted by Assistant State Attorney Bob Sombathy, Chief of Major Crimes.

For additional information, contact Chief Assistant State Attorney Larry Basford.

Oquin Convicted of Sexual Battery and Impregnation of a Child

Press Release
The Office of the State Attorney Glenn Hess announces that on June 25, 2019, Willie F. Oqin was found guilty as charged by a Jackson County jury of Sexual Battery upon a Child by a Person in Familial or Custodial Authority and Impregnation of a Child.
The State presented evidence that the defendant was a live-in boyfriend of the victim’s mother and had helped raised the victim since she was approximately 3 years old.  The child victim testified that she began being sexually abused by the defendant when she was 13 years old.  At the age of 14, the victim became pregnant and gave birth to a baby.  DNA tests subsequently revealed that the defendant was the biological father of the victim’s baby.
This case was investigated by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and prosecuted by Assistant State Attorneys Shalla Phelps Jefcoat and Laura Parish.  Sentencing is scheduled for July 19, 2019 before the Honorable James J. Goodman, Jr.  The defendant faces a sentence of up to Life in prison.
For additional information, contact Chief Assistant State Attorney Larry Basford.

Foster Convicted of Trafficking in Methamphetamine, Carrying a Concealed Firearm, and Possession of Marijuana and Paraphernalia

Press Release

The Office of State Attorney Glenn Hess announces that on June 14, 2019, Joshua Nathan Foster was found guilty as charged of Trafficking More Than 200 Grams of Methamphetamine, Carrying a Concealed Firearm, Possession of Marijuana and Possession of Paraphernalia.  This conviction stemmed from an arrest on August 6, 2017.

During the trial, the jury heard evidence that investigators from the Bay County Sheriff’s Office attempted to arrest the defendant on active warrants and discovered over 400 grams of liquid methamphetamine in the vehicle the defendant was driving as well as in his storage unit. The defendant was converting the liquid methamphetamine to crystal meth and selling it.

The case was a joint investigation between Bay County Sheriff’s Office and the United States Drug Enforcement Administration.  Sentencing is scheduled for July 16, 2019, before the Honorable Brantley S. Clark, Jr., where the State will seek to have the defendant sentenced as a Habitual Felony Offender.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant State Attorneys Frank Sullivan and Megan Ford.

For additional information contact Chief Assistant State Attorney Larry Basford.

Solomon Convicted of Attempted Second Degree Murder with a Weapon

Press Release

The Office of State Attorney Glenn Hess announces that on Thursday, June 20, 2019, Samuel Leo Ricky Solomon was found guilty as charged of Attempted Second Degree Murder with a Weapon.  During the trial, the State was able to prove that in January 2019, the Defendant made an unprovoked attack on the mother of his children where he stabbed her three times in the chest while she was still seated in her vehicle as she arrived home.  The Defendant was stopped by a Good Samaritan neighbor who heard the victim screaming.  The Defendant then fled the area but was stopped and held at gunpoint by another Good Samaritan.  Police recovered the knife hidden in the yard of a neighbor.  The victim survived the attack.

The Defendant has multiple prior felony convictions including prior convictions for violence, and is facing up to 30 years in prison.  Sentencing is scheduled to be set in July before the Honorable Judge Christopher Patterson.  The case was investigated by the Springfield Police Department and prosecuted by Assistant State Attorneys Alexis Sykes and Nichole Pieper.

For additional information, contact Chief Assistant State Attorney Larry Basford.

Bennett Convicted of First Degree Murder with a Firearm

Press Release

The Office of State Attorney Glenn Hess announces that on June 12, 2019, after a two- day trial, Jonathan Bennett was found guilty as charged of First Degree Murder with a Firearm.  Sentencing is set before Circuit Judge Brantley S. Clark, Jr., on June 25, 2019.

Assistant State Attorney Bob Sombathy, Chief of Major Crimes, and Assistant State Attorney Cord Grimes proved that on May 29, 2017, Jonathan Bennett shot the victim, Cody Darby, once directly in the throat, but claimed he acted in self-defense.  Bennett and Darby were roommates and had exchanged words earlier in the morning of May 29, 2017.  Bennett left the residence abruptly; went to his grandmother’s home to retrieve a 410 shotgun; returned to the residence and walked directly to Darby’s room; killing him in his sleep.  This case was investigated by the Bay County Sheriff’s Office, case agent Investigator Amy Burnette.

For additional information, contact Chief Assistant State Attorney Larry Basford.

Holley Sentenced to 25 Years as Habitual Offender

Press Release

The Office of State Attorney Glenn Hess announces that on Friday June 7, 2019, the Honorable Circuit Judge Christopher N. Patterson found that Randy “Bo” Holley qualified as a Habitual Felony Offender and sentenced Mr. Holley to 25 years in prison for Fleeing or Attempting to Elude Law Enforcement Officers (High Speed/ Reckless).

During the jury trial two weeks ago, the State was able to prove that Holley was spotted as a passenger in a silver Cadillac.  When the police tried to detain Holley for multiple felony warrants, he switched with the driver and took the police on a chase through a Panama City Beach neighborhood and up Highway 79 through West Bay.  During the chase, speeds topped 130 MPH and Holley avoided spike strips laid out by law enforcement by driving though the median of Highway 79.  The defendant was captured the next day when he fled once again from law enforcement in Washington County.  This time law enforcement successfully deployed spike strips that disabled the defendant’s car.

The case was investigated by Bay County Sheriff’s Office and prosecuted by Assistant State Attorneys Alexis Sykes and Nicole Reed.

For additional information, contact Chief Assistant State Attorney Larry Basford.