Former Marianna prosecutor, veteran attorney rejoins SAO

A U.S. Army veteran, former Marianna prosecutor, and private practice attorney is now the State Attorney’s Office newest Bay County prosecutor.

State Attorney Larry Basford swore in Zachary VanDyke Monday morning and announced his return to the SAO effective today.

State Attorney Larry Basford, right, welcomes the SAO’s newest prosecutor, Zachary VanDyke.

“This office has a great reputation and out of all my years of practicing law, the State Attorney’s Office in Marianna was the coolest job that I ever had,” VanDyke said, adding, “Up until I got to sit in this chair in Panama City.”

VanDyke ran a private practice law firm the last 10 years in Panama City, serving as lead counsel in about 10-12 trials each year. From 2005-2007 he served as a prosecutor in the SAO Marianna office where he carried a load of about 200 misdemeanor and felony cases.

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VanDyke joined the U.S. Army in 1988 and became a commissioned officer in 1996 after a break in service for college. VanDyke graduated from the University of Alabama School of Law in 2004 and served in the Alabama Army National Guard from 2006-2014, retiring with the rank of Major and a combined 22 years of active and guard service

Originally from Birmingham, Ala., VanDyke said he has long felt the pull of living in Bay County.

“My family lives here and I love this place, and I want to contribute to making it safer by protecting the people of the community,” he said.

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




Woman using Meth guilty of Aggravated Manslaughter of Child

Prosecutor Peter Overstreet, center, confers with Circuit Judge Dustin Stephenson during Megan Dauphin’s trial. Dauphin was found guilty of Aggravated Manslaughter of a Child.

A jury that heard four days of testimony took 22 minutes Friday to find a woman guilty of causing the death of her 7-week-old infant by leaving her in a car for hours while she was on methamphetamine, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

The defendant during her testimony.

Megan Elizabeth Dauphin, 32, of Panama City, was taken into custody and ordered held without bond after being found guilty of Aggravated Manslaughter of a Child. Circuit Court Judge Dustin Stephenson set sentencing for May 3. Dauphin faces up to 30 years in prison for the first-degree felony.

Prosecutor Peter Overstreet called more than a dozen witnesses and presented evidence proving the defendant left her home with the infant the morning of Sept. 2, 2020, and forgot to get her out of the car when she returned around 9 a.m. It wasn’t until about four and a half hours later that a young teen in the home, who had been asleep, asked where the baby was. At first the defendant said the living room, but when told the infant was not there, testimony was that she froze for a few seconds before screaming and running to her vehicle.

Testimony from medical experts showed the level of methamphetamine in the defendant’s blood, and her behavior, proved she was under the influence at the time her infant died.

“Every child deserves a chance, and every child deserves love and care,” Overstreet said after the verdict. “Even though this infant did not get that in her 7 weeks of life with her mother, this verdict shows that the people of Bay County care.”

Prosecutor Peter Overstreet addresses jurors.

The defendant, who told Bay County Sheriff’s Department investigators that day that she had not used drugs, testified on her own behalf. She initially denied using methamphetamine and said the doctors and tests on her blood were wrong. Under cross examination she admitted to using methamphetamine, but said it was two days before her daughter’s death.

Overstreet reiterated to jurors the defendant’s denial of drug use despite it being found in her blood and her denial of overdosing and being given Narcan by police to revive her a week after her baby was born.

In particular, he attacked her claims that when she did use methamphetamine, it was because it helped her focus and that the drug did not have any “negative” effects on her.

“So is that why you elected to use methamphetamine, because it gives you all these positive results? Is that what you’re telling this jury?” Overstreet asked. “You don’t think your use of this illicit drug over this period of time affected the way your brain worked; you don’t think it affects your ability to remember things?”

The defendant said no, adding that it “helped” her stay on task and focus.

At the end of his closing argument, Overstreet told jurors that the defendant’s claims that methamphetamine had no negative affects on her spoke volumes and her version of events did not match other testimony or the evidence.

The defendant and her attorney after the verdict was announced.

“Megan Dauphin came into this courtroom Monday wearing the cloak of innocent-until-proven guilty,” he said. “And now it’s been removed, and you’ve seen her exposed for what she truly is: a person guilty of Aggravated Manslaughter of a Child.”

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Basford thanked the Sheriff’s Office deputies and investigators for their work, the Gulf Coast Children’s Advocacy Center, as well as experts from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Dr. Bruce Goldberger, a forensic toxicologist at the University of Florida.

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

Man guilty of sexually assaulting child for years faces Life in prison

A man found guilty Wednesday of sexually assaulting a young girl over a period of years faces Life in prison at his May sentencing, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

Sean Michael Talkington, 45, was found guilty as charged of 2 counts of Sexual Battery on a Person Less than 12 Years of Age, and 1 count each of Lewd or Lascivious Battery, and Lewd or Lascivious Molestation. Circuit Court Judge Brantley Clark set his sentencing for May 17.

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Prosecutor Nicole Reed called four witnesses and presented evidence that proved the defendant repeatedly sexually assaulted the victim between 2005 and 2012.

“I’m thankful that this victim was able to find the strength to tell her story in 2021 when she was ready to speak her truth and that we were able to seek justice,” Reed said. “We got a swift verdict, showing the jury believed her testimony.”

The jury deliberated for just over 30 minutes before finding the defendant guilty on all four counts.

Among the state witnesses were Bay County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Jake Roberts and Lawrence, Kansas, Police Department Sgt. Jamie Lawson, who traveled to Bay County to testify. Roberts was the case agent. Sgt. Lawson conducted an interview with the defendant in Kansas during which the defendant made admissions.

Basford thanked the BCSO and Lawrence, Kansas police for their collaborative work on a case that spanned years and nearly 1,000 miles.

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

3 new Prosecutors join State Attorney’s Office

State Attorney Larry Basford, left, with new Assistant State Attorneys Alexa Brockell, Madeline Roney and JP Ferreira, and Bay County Chief Prosecutor Mark Graham, far right.

Three new prosecutors formally joined the SAO team Wednesday after being sworn in as members of the Florida Bar, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

Alexa Brockell, JP Ferreira, and Madeline Roney were sworn into the Florida Bar Wednesday morning by County Court Judge Shane Vann. Following that, Basford swore in all three as prosecutors for the 14th Judicial Circuit.

“Alexa, JP and Madeline have been working as legal interns for us and have demonstrated their commitment to doing their best to keep our community safe,” Basford said. “They bring with them a level of energy and enthusiasm that will serve our residents well.”

In the first proceedings of the morning, Judge Vann, a former assistant state attorney, congratulated the three on their accomplishments and decisions to work for the public good as prosecutors.

“Today is the culmination of a lot of hard work and a lot of sacrifices that you have made,” Vann said. “Today is the end of that part of your life and the beginning of your legal career. I admire the choices you have made and I will also tell you that being an assistant state attorney will be the most exciting part of your career.”

Brockell majored in Criminology/Criminal Justice at Florida State University before obtaining her law degree from the University of Florida Levin College of Law.


“I’m excited to be in a position where I can help people by doing what I think is right,” Brockell said. “The teamwork and respect at the State Attorney’s Office makes it a great environment to learn how I can best contribute to the community as a whole.”

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Ferreira received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Rollins College and subsequently his law degree from the Florida State University College of Law.

 Becoming an Assistant State Attorney isn’t just about achieving a title; it’s about using your skill to serve justice, improve your community, and aid the common good,” Ferreira said. “For me, success is about the collective impact of the entire team at the State Attorney’s Office. I look forward to learning from them and serving the people of Bay County.”

Roney received her Bachelor of Science, Political Science, from Oklahoma State University and her law degree from the Florida State University College of Law.

“I have always had a strong desire to work in the State Attorney’s Office and am especially passionate about prosecuting sex crimes,” Roney said. “I have strong ties to the Panama City area and am committed to seeking justice for victims of crime in our circuit.”

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

15-minute verdict on Meth Trafficking charge; woman faces up to 30 years

A woman who admitted possessing and selling Methamphetamine after a search warrant was served on her home was found guilty as charged Tuesday and faces up to 30 years in prison, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

Jacqueline Michelle Long, 48, of Panama City was found guilty of Trafficking in Methamphetamine (28 grams or more) and Possession of Paraphernalia after jurors deliberated for about 15 minutes. Circuit Court Judge Devin Collier set sentencing for May 1. The offense is a first-degree felony punishable by a minimum/mandatory 7 years and up to 30 years in prison.

Prosecutor Josh James shows the defendant and her attorney evidence before presenting it to a witness.
Prosecutor Josh James and BCSO Inv. Doug Cummings examine evidence as Circuit Judge Devin Collier observes.

Prosecutor Josh James presented witnesses and evidence proving that deputies found about 34 grams of Methamphetamine in the defendant’s home when they served a search warrant May 7, 2021.

“Thanks to the hard work and diligent investigation of Bay County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Doug Cummings and Sgt. Jeremy Head, a confessed narcotics dealer will now be held accountable for her actions,” James said. “Methamphetamine is a particularly dangerous drug, and because it is highly addictive and cheap, its prevalence has been a plague in Bay County.

“We appreciate the jury’s verdict because it sends a message to the drug traffickers and dealers endangering our residents that their actions will not be tolerated and they will answer for their crimes.”

The defendant testified that the drugs recovered in her home were not hers.

Testimony showed a Sheriff’s Office investigation generated enough evidence for them to obtain a search warrant, which they served on May 7, 2021. The defendant and a male co-defendant were present.

Investigators found two baggies of Methamphetamine totaling about 34 grams, hundreds of smaller baggies for distributing the drug, cash, and digital scales.

In Head’s bodycam footage, the defendant states the drugs are hers and. “there ain’t no more to find, you found it all.” She further explains that although she had originally bought a larger quantity, some of it had already been sold.


Basford thanked the BCSO investigators for the thoroughness of their case and the strong evidence they gathered.

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

The co-defendant looks at the defendant near the end of his testimony for the defense.

PC man sentenced to 30 years after jury finds him guilty of trafficking in Fentanyl, Cocaine

An investigation that started with a planned $20 crack cocaine buy last year ended Thursday with a Panama City man being found guilty of Trafficking in Fentanyl and Cocaine, as well as other charges, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

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A jury found Stanley Ashe, 38, guilty of Trafficking in Fentanyl, Trafficking in Cocaine, Possession of Methamphetamine, Unlawful Use of a Two-Way Communications Device, and two misdemeanors.

Nichole Pieper gestures toward the defendant during opening statements.
Defendant Stanley Ashe

Lead Prosecutor Nichole Pieper referenced the defendant’s lengthy criminal history and the rash of Fentanyl-related overdoses across the state while asking Circuit Court Judge Timothy Register for the maximum sentence. The Fentanyl weighed between 14-28 grams, so under Florida’s drug trafficking laws the defendant faced a minimum 15-year sentence and up to 30 years on that charge alone.

Register agreed, noting the defendant had multiple previous convictions, and sentenced him to 30 years on that charge. His prison time on the other charges will run concurrent with the 30-year sentence.

“As long as traffickers continue to bring these poisons into our communities, our law enforcement agencies will continue to pursue them and our office will continue to put them away for as long as possible,” Pieper said. “The Panama City Police Department put together a strong case for prosecution and their actions kept a large number of deadly drugs from ever reaching the streets.”

PCPD Capt. Kristain Shaw testifies as co-prosecutor Morgan McAfee listens.

Pieper and co-Prosecutor Morgan McAfee called 5 witnesses and introduced evidence showing that Panama City police carried out a “controlled phone call” between a confidential informant and the defendant on April 5, 2022.

Testimony showed that the defendant met with the person at a location near U.S. 231 and Martin Luther King, Jr., Boulevard, to sell $20 worth of crack cocaine. Capt. Kristain Shaw, Inv. Ray McNeil and Sgt. Joshua Seigler set up surveillance, but the deal was not consummated.

Officers knew the defendant did not have a valid driver’s license and conducted a traffic stop. They smelled the odor of marijuana and found methamphetamine in the defendant’s wallet. Inside was a backpack with 22 grams of Fentanyl, about 30 grams of Cocaine, 18 multi-colored pills containing Fentanyl, and Methamphetamine. They also found a loaded .38-caliber revolver and a digital scale.

Basford thanked Panama City police for their work on the case that prevented a large quantity of drugs from being sold on the street.

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

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.