Bonifay rest-stop murder trial ends with guilty verdict, two Life sentences

BONIFAY – A Holmes County jury took 37 minutes Wednesday to find Latorish Antonio Gardner guilty as charged in the murder of one man and the attempted murder of his ex-girlfriend, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

Prosecutor Ben Keown points toward the defendant during closing arguments in Wednesday’s murder trial.

Under Florida’s 10-20-Life Statute, Prosecutor Ben Keown asked that Gardner, 50, be sentenced to Life for Second-Degree Murder with a Firearm, Life for Attempted First-Degree Murder with a Firearm, and the maximum 15 years for Shooting into an Occupied Vehicle. Circuit Judge Russell Roberts agreed and made the sentences consecutive, meaning one will be served after the other.

Prosecutor Ben Keown said his heart goes out to the families of Derrick Thompson, who died, and Mariah Maps, who was critically wounded. He thanked jurors for their service and for focusing on the facts of the case to find justice for those affected.

“A shooting like this in a public area is the type of crime that one usually thinks of happening in other places, and to have such senseless violence happen in our community is unfathomable,” Keown said. “A crime like this defendant committed sends shockwaves not only through the Holmes County community but also throughout the lives of every person who was at the Ponce De Leon rest area that day.”

Medical Examiner Jay Radtke shows jurors the victim’s shirt and the hole made by the bullet that passed through it before killing the victim.

Witnesses and evidence presented by Keown painted a picture of chaos at the rest stop on May 2, 2021, after gunfire erupted. Mariah Maps was meeting the defendant, her former boyfriend, at the rest stop for him to pick up their three daughters for visitation.

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Maps needed a ride and her boyfriend, Thompson, accompanied her. An argument began in the parking lot between Maps and the defendant, she testified, as he began making accusations against her. Thompson, the testimony showed, de-escalated the situation and was leaving with Maps when the dispute resumed.

This time, witnesses said, when Thompson tried to talk to the defendant, the defendant pulled a 9mm pistol and shot him once in the chest, killing him almost instantly. Witnesses and Maps testified that Maps fled on foot for about 70 yards with the defendant chasing her while firing another half dozen rounds at her in the parking lot.

She spotted an open door on a car at the rest stop and sought refuge there. James Lancaster testified it was his car and he saw the defendant chasing the victim, saying he was going to kill her before she tried to crawl into the back seat of his car.

He said he retrieved a gun from his car to protect Maps and pointed it at the defendant, who was waving his gun around.

The defendant, having been found guilty, is led back to the defense table after being fingerprinted.

“He fired over my shoulder and through the window and hit her,” the witness testified. “As soon as he had shot, he said, ‘It’s over, I’m done,’ and he turned and walked away.”

The defendant was found and arrested later that day at a relative’s home in Marianna. The murder weapon was never recovered.

Basford thanked all the witnesses who were at the rest stop that day and returned to testify. He also credited the work of the Holmes County Sheriff’s Office, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Holmes County EMS, and the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office for their participation in the investigation and prosecution of the case.

For more information, contact Mike Cazalas at, or call 850-381-7454.

15-year sentence for stabbing man in throat during family “bantering”

A repeat felony offender who stabbed another man in the throat during family “bantering” in 2021 is awaiting transfer to state prison to serve a 15-year-prison term, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

Derrick Barnard Washington, 46, of Panama City, was arrested by Panama City police on March 19, 2022, and charged with Attempted Second-Degree Murder for stabbing a 64-year-old man in the neck, nicking his carotid artery.

Derrick Barnard Washington

The defendant pled no contest to the charge and Circuit Court Judge Shonna Young Gay accepted his plea and 15-year sentence – the maximum for a second-degree felony. Prosecutor Barbara Beasley presented evidence that led to the defendant – who has served several prison sentences – being sentenced as a Habitual Felony Offender.

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Beasley was prepared to present witnesses and evidence gathered by the Panama City Police Department proving police were called to a Kraft Avenue residence March 19, 2022, in reference to a stabbing.

The evidence and sworn statements showed the victim and another man were sitting at a table when the defendant entered the room and began “bantering” with the victim. The defendant went into another room and returned with a knife, stabbing the victim once in the neck with it as he sat at the table. The defendant then fled in a car.

Based on witness statements police identified the defendant and located him outside a relative’s home in Springfield, the knife used in the stabbing laying near him on the ground.

The victim was taken to the hospital for emergency treatment and identified his attacker.

Basford thanked the Panama City Police Department for its work on the case and Springfield Police for their assistance.

For more information, contact Mike Cazalas at, or call 850-381-7454.


Woman who OD’d on Fentanyl, smothering grandson, sentenced to 22 years

Prosecutor Peter Overstreet, right, listens as a relative of the victim (center, in black, testifies with support from Victim Advocate Lisa Lea Humpich (arm around witness), during sentencing.

A woman who admitted she snorted ground-up pills and overdosed, smothering her infant grandson in the process, was sentenced to 22 years in prison Friday, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

The defendant is fingerprinted after sentencing.

Mary Elizabeth Evans, 41, of Panama City, entered an open plea to Aggravated Manslaughter of a Child in the June 6, 2021, death of her 9-week-old grandson. An open plea meant the defendant was admitting her guilt and allowing Circuit Court Judge Dustin Stephenson – after hearing arguments from the defense and the prosecutor – to decide the sentence.

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Prosecutor Peter Overstreet, citing the facts of the case, the desires of the paternal side of the family, and the need for consequences for those abusing illegal narcotics, asked for the maximum sentence of 30 years. The facts were not in dispute: the defendant snorted Fentanyl from a ground-up pill, agreed to watch her 9-week-old grandson, then overdosed and collapsed on the infant, smothering him to death.

After testimony from the defendant and a few of her children, Overstreet questioned, as did Circuit Court Judge Dustin Stephenson, why there was very little said about the victim during the statements.

“There were a lot of wonderful things said about the defendant, and they may be true, but the sad dichotomy is that there wasn’t a lot of talk about the child,” Overstreet said to Stephenson. “I found it kind of heartbreaking … because (the victim) deserved a life and that was taken away because of her choices, and those choices have consequences.

“I think that above all else, that child deserves for every bit of time taken away from him to be put into the bank on the defendant’s sentence.”

The defendant listens as her daughter, far right, testifies on her behalf.

The defense sought a departure sentence below the guideline minimum of about 13 years, saying the defendant cooperated with authorities after the death and showed remorse.

Stephenson ordered a 22-year prison sentence.

“Your choices have stolen the future of this child,” he said. “Nothing that I do today will change that, but the time you serve in prison will approximate the life this child would have had before he became an adult.”

For more information, contact Mike Cazalas at, or call 850-381-7454.

Armed man guilty of threatening neighbors, firing gun

Lead Prosecutor Frank Sullivan during his opening statement to jurors as co-Prosecutor Josh James and Circuit Court Judge Brantley Clark observe.

A man charged with barging into a home while armed and threatening several people in the area as he departed was found guilty Wednesday and sentenced to 12 years in prison, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

Prosecutor Frank Sullivan said Donald Anthony Holman, 53, will have to serve the first 10 years day-for-day under Florida’s 10-20-Life Statute.

Jurors took about half an hour to find the defendant guilty as charged of Burglary of an Occupied Dwelling While Armed, and 4 counts of Aggravated Assault (Deadly Weapon). Circuit Court Judge Brantley Clark sentenced the defendant to 12 years on the first charge and 5 years each on the other charges, with all to be served concurrently.

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Sullivan presented 7 witnesses and evidence showing that Bay County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to several calls of a man armed with a handgun in a Bear Creek neighborhood on Oct. 25, 2019 around 11 p.m.

The evidence proved the defendant entered a home uninvited, where he approached the male resident. That resident testified he was sitting in a back room when the defendant “just walked in” with a gun and started yelling about “someone sleeping with his wife.” The defendant’s wife was in jail at the time and had been for several months. The man said he pushed the defendant outside, where the defendant then discharged his firearm.

A 9mm shell was found in the yard.

The defendant, Donald Anthony Holman.

While deputies were interviewing those victims, two more people drove up and said they had seen the defendant arguing with a neighbor. The evidence showed the defendant saw them drive by and pointed his gun in their vehicle’s window and threatened them, scaring the driver badly enough that he ran into the defendant’s vehicle as he attempted to get away.

Other deputies in the area located the defendant nearby and took him into custody.

Basford thanked the Bay County Sheriff’s Office deputies for their handling of a dangerous situation and the ensuing investigation.

For more information, contact Mike Cazalas at, or call 850-381-7454.

Former PC employee Michael Johnson sentenced to 8 years, makes full restitution

Panama City’s former community development director pled no contest to Grand Theft, Money Laundering and 19 counts of Official Misconduct Thursday and was sentenced to 8 years in prison, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

Circuit Court Judge Timothy Register accepted the plea and handed down the sentence in the case prosecuted by Assistant State Attorney Peter Overstreet.

Above: Prosecutor Peter Overstreet, right, addresses Circuit Court Judge Timothy Register during Michael Johnson’s sentencing Thursday. Below: The defendant signed paperwork returning property to the city Thursday during sentencing before being fingerprinted.

“Actions like these where the public trust is violated simply will not be tolerated,” Basford said. “The defendant was a government employee who used his position to enrich himself. Working with the Panama City Police Department throughout the investigation we were able to prepare a case that was strong enough that the defendant is not only being punished, but the stolen funds are being recovered.”

The plea was predicated upon the defendant surrendering $113,000 found on his property by the FBI, surrendering money he funneled into his personal bank account, and returning properties and vehicles he bought with stolen funds. He also must forfeit his City retirement plans.


Overstreet said the evidence showed the defendant had control of an account at Hancock Bank for the Friends of After School Assistance Program, Inc., since 2012.  The defendant diverted approximately $470,000 intended to be used for the City’s After School Assistance Program (ASAP) to his personal account for his own use. ASAP offers learning opportunities to low-income youths and their families who are at-risk of educational failure and who need a safe haven after-school program.

“Panama City investigators contacted us early on and what we found is that the defendant used the money to purchase a number of vehicles and properties within the city,” Overstreet said.  “It was egregious. He clearly redirected public funds to himself over a number of years, tried to hide it, and for justice to be served he now has to pay a price.”

Basford credited the Panama City Police Department and city officials for their investigation when the fraud was brought to their attention, as well as involving the SAO early on so the agencies and the FBI could work in concert on a complicated financial case and ultimately recover the stolen funds.

For additional information contact Mike Cazalas at

Longtime lawman Dave Edmondson rejoins SAO

A veteran lawman and investigator who retired from the State Attorney’s Office 18 months ago has brought his skills back to the SAO, where he will work as an investigator.

State Attorney Larry Basford announced that Dave Edmondson, whose career included 13 years of service to the SAO, has returned as an investigator working out of the Gulf and Calhoun offices.

State Attorney Larry Basford, right, welcomes veteran lawman Dave Edmondson back to the SAO.

“We are excited about Dave Edmondson rejoining our team,” Basford said. “Our investigators are a key component of what we accomplish, and they work directly with prosecutors preparing cases. When we can add someone with the experience and skills that Dave carries, everybody benefits.”

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Edmondson began his law enforcement career in 1991 with the Sneads Police Department, moving from there to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office before joining the State Attorney’s Office about 15 years ago, working out of the Marianna office.

He retired in 2021 but after 30 years in law enforcement, he felt something pulling him back.

“I really think that I can help,” Edmondson said. “I sat on the sidelines for a while and I just decided I really wanted to do something to help and continue to serve the people in this circuit.”

Edmondson began his career as a patrolman, worked property and sex crimes as an investigator, was part of a multi-agency drug task force for more than 10 years and worked undercover as well. His “favorite,” he said, was when he served on a SWAT team.

For additional information contact Mike Cazalas at

Guilty verdict, 30-year sentence for Fentanyl trafficker

Circuit Judge Timothy Register has a sidebar with, left to right, Prosecutor Frank Sullivan, the defense attorney and co-prosecutor Nichole Pieper while a BCSO bailiff observes.

A Panama City woman found guilty as charged Wednesday of Trafficking in Fentanyl was sentenced to 30 years in prison, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

A Bay County jury found Danielle Michelle Cooper, 38, guilty of Trafficking in Fentanyl (14 grams or more but less than 28 grams), and Possession of Paraphernalia. Prosecutor Frank Sullivan said the 30-year sentence handed down by Circuit Court Judge Timothy Register following the verdict was the maximum. The first 15 years are minimum-mandatory.

Prosecutor Frank Sullivan shows jurors how the defendant flung a baggie of Fentanyl out her truck window during opening statements.

“Fentanyl is poisoning our community and we are committed to prosecuting these cases and getting it off our streets,” said Sullivan, who also credited the Bay County Sheriff’s Office for the evidence it gathered.

Sullivan called 4 witnesses and presented evidence proving the defendant was in possession of more than 14 grams of Fentanyl when case agent Phillip Hill and deputies served a search warrant on her home Oct. 9, 2021. It was Hill who was wearing a GoPro camera that would provide crucial evidence.

Hill was the first witness and testified deputies had a search warrant in hand and were waiting for the defendant to return home. When she pulled into the driveway, so did deputies, who identified themselves.

Hill testified he saw the defendant throw a plastic baggie out of the driver’s window. A GoPro body camera he was wearing captured that sequence of events, and the video was played for jurors. Sullivan was able to freeze-frame the video and capture an image of the baggie in the air. It was recovered and found to contain Fentanyl.

The defendant did not take the stand, but a passenger in the truck she was driving testified as co-counsel Nichole Pieper observed.





Former Sheriff’s Office Deputy Jasmin Clack, now with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, testified she searched the defendant after she was taken into custody and found a baggie containing Fentanyl in her bra.

Basford thanked the Bay County Sheriff’s Office for its continued pursuit of drug traffickers and the strong evidence in this case.

For more information, contact Mike Cazalas at, or call 850-381-7454.

Woman arrested in 2020 for failure to appear and drug charges is convicted in abstentia after failing to appear for trial

PORT ST. JOE – A Marianna woman accused of trying to smuggle methamphetamine into the Gulf County Jail after her 2020 arrest for Failure to Appear, also failed to appear for her trial on those charges Tuesday.

The trial went on without Vicki Trickey, 62, and the jury took 4 minutes to return verdicts of guilty of Introduction of Contraband into a County Detention Facility, Possession of Methamphetamine, and Possession of Paraphernalia. Circuit Court Judge Devin Collier set a sentencing date for March 16. She faces up to 5 years in prison.

Vicki Trickey failed to appear for her trial Tuesday.

Collier also issued a hold-without-bond pickup order for the defendant for Failure to Appear for her trial.

Judge Collier instructed jurors on the defendant’s absence and court procedure before the trial began.

“The Defendant, Vicki Wood Trickey, has voluntarily absented herself from this trial,” he said. “The Court warned the Defendant that her failure to appear for trial may result in the trial being conducted without her physical presence.

“As such, the Court has determined that the trial will proceed without the Defendant’s presence; my legal decision in this regard must not influence your verdict one way or the other.”

Gulf County Chief Prosecutor Tracy Smith presented witnesses and testimony from the Gulf County Sheriff’s Office and the Gulf County Detention Facility proving that the defendant was stopped by deputies Nov. 2, 2020. A routine check showed the defendant was wanted for Failure to Appear on an unrelated charge and she was taken into custody.

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At the jail, the evidence showed, the defendant was searched for contraband and was found in possession of a medicine bottle containing two small baggies with methamphetamine.

State Attorney Larry Basford thanked the Gulf County Sheriff’s Office and jail staff for their thorough work in finding the contraband during the booking process.

For more information, contact Mike Cazalas at, or call 850-381-7454.

4 Life sentences for man who sexually attacked child repeatedly

A Bay County man found guilty of repeatedly sexually battering and molesting a child was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

Jacob Lee Hudson, 40, was found guilty Tuesday of 4 counts of Sexual Battery on a Child under the age of 12, 10 counts of Lewd or Lascivious Molestation, and 1 count of Lewd or Lascivious Conduct. Circuit Judge Shonna Young Gay gave the defendant Life in prison on each of the Sexual Battery charges, 25 years minimum-mandatory on each of the Lewd or Lascivious Molestation charges, and 5 years on the final offense.

Jacob Lee Hudson at time of most recent arrest

The 4 Life sentences are to be served consecutively, while the remaining charges will be served concurrently with the first Life sentence. Hudson had previously been sentenced to 7 years in prison for a 2004 Lewd and Lascivious Conduct conviction.

Prosecutor Barbara Beasley presented witnesses and evidence proving that Bay County Sheriff’s Office deputies were called on Aug. 1, 2019, after a woman found out the defendant had been buying the victim gifts.

Deputy Sean Simonson, who responded to the call, talked to the woman about her suspicions and then made contact with the defendant. Simonson testified the defendant stated, “I’m not admitting or denying anything.”

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The child was interviewed and examined by members of the Gulf Coast Children’s Advocacy Center Child Protection Team the same day and it was determined she had been sexually assaulted on multiple occasions. The defendant was arrested that night.

Jacob Lee Hudson at time of his 2011 release from prison.

“This was really good work by Deputy Simonson because when he asked the defendant if he had anything to say, and got that response, he immediately put that in his report and documented it and was able to testify to it,” Beasley said. “It helped give credibility to the allegations both early in the investigation and during trial.”

Basford thanked the Bay County Sheriff’s Office for its handling of the initial call and investigation, and the GCCAC for its role and handling of the victim’s interview.

For more information, contact Mike Cazalas at, or call 850-381-7454.

Man convicted of setting house on fire, fighting responding officers

A Parker man who witnesses heard muttering he set a house on fire because his gas can “was his only weapon” was found guilty as charged Thursday, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

Lance Allan Johnson, 64, was found guilty of Second-Degree Arson, Resisting an Officer with Violence, and Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer after about an hour of deliberations. Circuit Court Judge Brantley Clark set sentencing for March 1.

Lance Johnson was found guilty of setting the fire that destroyed this home.



Prosecutor Dustin Miller said the day of the arson started with the defendant calling a news outlet and making a threat to commit violence.

“He followed that up later in the day by setting his residence on fire and striking a deputy who was attempting to arrest him,” Miller said. “Thursday, a Bay County jury held him accountable for his actions.

“The State takes these crimes seriously, and I am proud of all the work from the multiple agencies on this case,” Miller continued. “A guilty verdict wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work of law enforcement.”

Lance Johnson

Miller called 9 witnesses, including Parker and Springfield police as well as Bay County Sheriff’s Office deputies who were involved in the arrest and investigation. The evidence included pictures of the structure, which was destroyed by the fire.

The testimony and evidence proved the defendant started a fire in the rear bedroom of the Ethlyn Road structure on March 11. Two witnesses saw the defendant leaving the residence at the time of the fire and heard him saying, “the gas can was his only weapon, to let (the structure) burn.”

A BCSO deputy testified he tried to take the defendant, who had an outstanding warrant, into custody but he resisted, pulled away, and then struck him in the chest with his elbow.

Basford pointed out the collaboration between the various agencies is an example of the area’s public safety work ethic, and results in prosecutors having a stronger case to prosecute.

For more information, contact Mike Cazalas at, or call 850-381-7454.