JACKSON COUNTY JURY: Man guilty of selling Meth

MARIANNA – A Jackson County jury took about 30 minutes to find a Sneads man guilty of Sale of a Controlled Substance late Monday, according to State Attorney Larry Basford.

Sanchez Mario Davis, 42, is scheduled for sentencing Monday, Jan. 30, before Circuit Court Judge Ana Maria Garcia. The defendant faces up to 15 years in prison on the 2nd Degree Felony.

Prosecutor Lawrence Gill presented three witnesses and evidence proving that the defendant sold Methamphetamine on Oct. 23, 2020.

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Testimony, including that from Jackson County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Dylan Jackson, the case agent, showed investigators used a confidential informant to make a controlled buy from the defendant Oct. 23, 2020. The defendant initially was known only as “Stay High,” and was identified in part by his “Stay High” tattoo, according to testimony.

The evidence included audio and video of the transaction, which was conducted under surveillance from the JCSO.

Investigators obtained a warrant for the defendant and he was arrested about two weeks later at the same location where the controlled buy took place.

Basford thanked the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office for its work on the case.

For more information, contact Mike Cazalas at mike.cazalas@sa14.fl.gov, or call 850-381-7454.

Fentanyl trafficker found guilty, facing up to 30 years, $500k fine

A man found guilty on Friday of Trafficking in Fentanyl (28 grams or more) is set for sentencing Feb. 6, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

Walter Jim Roberson, 32, of Panama City, faces a minimum-mandatory 25-year sentence under Florida’s enhanced drug trafficking statutes, Prosecutor Jacob Cook said, and could get up to 30 years. He also faces a $500,000 fine. Jurors deliberated for less than an hour.

Prosecutor Jacob Cook addresses jurors during his opening statement.

“Hopefully this guilty verdict gets us one step closer to ending the Fentanyl epidemic that has cost so many lives in Bay County and across the country,” said prosecutor Jacob Cook.

Fentanyl has become the leading cause of narcotics overdose deaths in the country, in part because it is much stronger than other opioids, not as expensive, and varies in potency. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency reports the drug is manufactured cheaply in Mexico and China, then smuggled into the U.S.

Because of its potency, illegally produced Fentanyl available on the streets can vary wildly in potency, which leads to overdoses. Two milligrams of Fentanyl is considered a lethal dose.

Prosecutor Jacob Cook presents evidence to jurors.
About 31 grams of seized Fentanyl
Defendant Walter Roberson










In this case, Panama City Police served a search warrant on a home June 23, 2022, and found approximately 47 grams of Fentanyl in the defendant’s room. Each gram contained enough Fentanyl to cause approximately 500 overdose deaths.

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Officers from the City’s Street Crimes Unit testified they had the defendant under surveillance as part of an ongoing investigation and observed him selling  Fentanyl on several occasions. They obtained a search warrant and served it the following day.

Basford thanked Panama City Police for the strong case it helped put together and for its proactive approach that stopped tens of thousands of doses of fentanyl from reaching the streets of Bay County.

For more information, contact Mike Cazalas at mike.cazalas@sa14.fl.gov, or call 850-381-7454.

Sex offenses against 2 children brings 25-year prison sentence

A man who committed sex offenses against two young girls while armed was sentenced to 25 years in prison Wednesday, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

Christopher Michael Way, 30, of Panama City, pled no contest to Lewd or Lascivious Molestation, Lewd or Lascivious Battery, Lewd or Lascivious Exhibition, Felon in Possession of a Firearm, and Aggravated Assault (Deadly Weapon).

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The defendant is fingerprinted following sentencing as Prosecutor Jennifer Lieb, right, waits.

Circuit Court Judge Brantley Clark also ordered that the defendant, upon his release, serve 10 years Sex Offender Probation. That means he will be required to wear an electronic monitor, will be designated a sexual offender, must register as a sexual offender for the remainder of his life, and must complete sex offender counseling. He also will not be allowed any contact with the victim, nor any contact with a minor.

Prosecutor Jennifer Lieb was prepared to call witnesses and present evidence that would have proven the defendant committed sexual offenses against two young girls in a Panama City home on June 12, 2021. He was armed with a gun at the time, which he used to threaten the victims if they told anyone what he had done.

Basford thanked the Panama City Police Department and Inv. Matthew Kelly for their work on the case, as well as the Gulf Coast Children’s Advocacy Center, which interviewed both victims and elicited key evidence.

For more information, contact Mike Cazalas at mike.cazalas@sa14.fl.gov, or call 850-381-7454.

Guilty verdict, 25-year sentence in Meth trafficking case

Prosecutor Jacob Cook shows a bag of Methamphetamine to a witness appearing by Zoom., as the judge, left, watches. The defendant and his attorney are to the right

A Bay County jury of six took less than 20 minutes Wednesday to find a Panama City man guilty of trafficking in Methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of a school, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

Steven Wayne Stottlemyer, 60, was found guilty of Possession of Methamphetamine with intent to sell within 1,000 feet of a college and Trafficking in Methamphetamine.

Prosecutor Jacob Cook shows jurors some of the seized Methamphetamine.

The trafficking charge carried a minimum-mandatory 7-year prison term, and a maximum of 30. Prosecutor Jacob Cook, citing the defendant’s past convictions and the amount of methamphetamine involved, asked for a sentence on the upper end of the range.

Circuit Court Judge Shonna Shonna Young Gay sentenced the defendant to 25 years in prison on each charge, with the sentences to run concurrently, or at the same time.

“This again shows that if you traffic Methamphetamine, or any other drug, in Bay County, we are going to prosecute you to the fullest and you likely will be going to prison for a long time,” Prosecutor Jacob Cook said after the sentencing. “We appreciate the hard work put in by the jurors. The swift verdict shows the strength of the case and the evidence put together by the Bay County Sheriff’s Office and its Special Investigations Division.”

Cook presented witnesses from the Bay County Sheriff’s Office and evidence that proved the defendant was arrested on March 29 following hours of surveillance by members of the BCSO SID.

Investigators set up an undercover operation, during which the defendant retrieved a baggie with about 2 ounces of methamphetamine from a shed on his property.  Other officers then moved in and assisted with the arrest. They also obtained a search warrant and found more methamphetamine and paraphernalia inside.

Testimony showed a total of about 234 grams of methamphetamine was recovered.

For more information, contact Mike Cazalas at mike.cazalas@sa14.fl.gov, or call 850-381-7454.

Drug trafficker who pled on eve of trial sentenced to 10 years

Circuit Judge Dustin Stephenson sentenced the defendant to 10 years Friday.

A man who pled guilty to Trafficking in Methamphetamine (more than 28 grams) the morning of his trial was sentenced to 10 years in prison Friday, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

Under Florida’s Minimum-Mandatory Drug Sentencing laws, Marlon Ray Cloud, 61, of Callaway, was facing at least a 7-year prison sentence. He was arrested by Bay County Sheriff’s Office investigators Nov. 5, 2021.

Prosecutors Dustin Miller and Nicole Reed picked a jury Dec. 12 to hear the case Dec. 16 before Circuit Court Judge Dustin Stephenson. But the morning of the trial, the defendant entered an “open plea” of guilty to the charges. An “open plea” means the judge will decide the sentence with no agreement in place.

At sentencing, Miller said Cloud was arrested after Sheriff’s Office investigators conducting an investigation knocked on the door of a hotel room he was in. When an occupant opened the door, a meth pipe was in plain sight.

One occupant had about 21 grams of methamphetamine in his pocket, which Miller explained came from the defendant. BCSO case agent Erin Williams asked the defendant if there was more methamphetamine in the room, and he pointed to a nightstand next to the bed where he was laying. Investigators found 34.3 grams of methamphetamine there.

Miller argued that the defendant’s actions and record showed that his criminal behavior had escalated. He asked for a 10-year sentence.

The defendant told Judge Stephenson, “I’m sorry it took me so long to realize that drugs destroy lives,” and that he was sorry he had “wasted” the court and SAO’s time by waiting to the last minute to enter a plea.

“I’m pretty glad you came to that realization,” Judge Stephenson told the defendant, “although it was after a jury was already selected.”

Stephenson, citing both the need for the defendant to be punished and his cooperative behavior and remorse, then gave him a 10-year sentence.

For more information, contact Mike Cazalas at mike.cazalas@sa14.fl.gov, or call 850-381-7454.

Belc sentenced to Life for 2018 murder of wife

State Attorney Larry Basford (right) and Prosecutor Bill Wright address the victim’s family and friends.

BLOUNTSTOWN – Emotional testimony from the family of murder victim Judith Belc at the hands of her husband in 2018 was followed by a Life-without-possibility of parole sentence Friday for her killer, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

Dan Belc killed his wife in 2018, shooting her multiple times at her family’s house in Blountstown, where he had followed her after she left their home in Germany and decided to file for divorce. He was found guilty of First-Degree Murder and Aggravated Assault Oct. 28. At Friday’s sentencing, Chief Circuit Court Judge Christopher Patterson heard testimony from the victim’s family.

Daniel Christopher Belc-Powell began his testimony by addressing the defendant by his first name, instead of “dad,” saying he had not considered him his father “for the 1,720 days since you took our mom.”

The defendant is returned to his seat after being fingerprinted.

“I know some of the family has forgiven you, I have not, but it is out of respect to my mom that I will keep that door open,” he said. “Mom is in heaven now, where she can no longer be controlled and abused by you.”

Family members described Judith Belc as a loving woman of tremendous faith who supported the defendant through college years ago and dedicated herself to her family and her God.

Her father said she was a forgiving person who loved to sing and was involved with missionary work when she met the defendant. He saw his daughter two days before her murder, then left for an out-of-state funeral. “On Tuesday night I thought everything was OK, that (the defendant) was going to be on a plane back to Germany,” he said. “We got a call Friday morning and found out our daughter had been killed. It was a long drive home.”

During that drive, he said, he prayed for help when feelings of anger arose toward the defendant.

“Dan, you broke the Sixth Commandment that God gave to all of us,” he said. “I would like to say from my heart,

Dan, that I do forgive you. If I do not forgive you, I know God will not forgive me for my sins.”

Basford and Gulf County Chief Prosecutor William Wright prosecuted the case. At sentencing Wright described the victim as truly innocent.

The victim’s father, left, asked for justice but offered forgiveness as well.

“I’ve been in this business a long time and Judith Belc was a saint,” Wright told Judge Patterson. “She did nothing to cause this to happen. She did nothing wrong.

“Mr. Basford and I are honored that we’ve been able to represent Judith and her family,” Wright added. “There’s something evil about Dan Belc, he’s almost like a cancer, he ruins everything that he is around.”

Wright asked Patterson to sentence Belc to the time served on the Aggravated Assault charge and Life without parole for murder. The family did not want the State to seek the Death Penalty.

After the sentencing, Basford spoke to more than 20 family members and friends of the victim, thanking them for their strength and assistance through the multiple delays brought on by the defendant.

“This case took longer than any of us expected to resolve and obtain justice,” Basford said. “We certainly appreciate the patience of the family and the thorough investigation by the men and women of the Calhoun County and Jackson County Sheriff’s Departments.”

For additional information, contact Mike Cazalas at mike.cazalas@sa14.fl.gov, or call 850-381-7454.

1 defendant, 2 trials in 2 days, 2 convictions

Guilty verdicts were returned this week against a repeat felon who had back-to-back trials on drug and fleeing law enforcement charges.

Adrian James Wood, 45, of Panama City, was found guilty Tuesday of felony Fleeing or Attempting to Elude a Law Enforcement Officer (Siren and Lights Activated) and Driving with a Suspended License from an April 24 arrest. Wednesday he was found guilty of Possession of Methamphetamine and Possession of Paraphernalia from a March 23 arrest. He testified in his own defense in both trials.

Adrian James Wood

Circuit Court Judge Brantley Clark presided over both cases. Prosecutor Joshua James presented the Possession of Methamphetamine case. Judge Clark sentenced the defendant to the maximum of 5 years in prison.

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Sentencing on the Fleeing and Attempting to Elude conviction was set for Jan. 18 because Prosecutor Jennifer Lieb is seeking to have the defendant designated as a Habitual Felony Offender, based on his 13 previous felony convictions. If that status is granted, the defendant’s potential sentence would be enhanced from a maximum of 5 years to up to 10 years in prison.

Court records show that the defendant has 3 previous convictions for Resisting an Officer with Violence and Aggravated Battery on an Officer, 2 convictions for Battery on an Officer and Possession of a Controlled Substance, and 1 conviction each for Fleeing and Attempting to Elude, Aggravated Battery on a Pregnant Person and Felony Criminal Mischief.

Department of Corrections records indicate the defendant has served four previous prison terms.

“It is unusual for one defendant to have two trials in one week, but he invoked his right to a speedy trial and that is what we gave him,” said Lieb, whose jury returned a verdict in about 20 minutes. “A speedy trial brought speedy justice in this case.”

James, whose jury took about an hour to reach a guilty verdict, noted that the defendant’s two trials this week were for offenses committed within 32 days of each other earlier this year. They also were committed less than two years after he was released from prison in July, 2020.

Basford thanked the Bay County Sheriff’s Office for its work on both arrests as well as prosecutors for their handling and quick resolution to the cases.

For more information, contact Mike Cazalas at mike.cazalas@sa14.fl.gov, or call 850-381-7454 or call 850-381-7454.

Meth trafficker sentenced to 20 years, fined $100,000

A drug trafficker with felony convictions stretching back two decades was sentenced to 20 years in prison and fined $100,000 Thursday, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

Willie Kacheno Cleveland, 42, was convicted Oct. 7 of Trafficking in Methamphetamine (more than 28 grams) and Possession of Cocaine. Prosecutor Jacob Cook successfully sought to have Circuit Court Judge Brantley Clark designate and sentence the defendant as a Habitual Felony Offender.

Judge Clark sentenced the defendant to 20 years in prison on the trafficking charge, with a minimum-mandatory 7 years and a $100,000 fine. The defendant was given 5 years on the second charge, to be served concurrently with the first sentence.

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While out on bond on these charges, the defendant was arrested on additional drug and firearm charges.

“It’s a great feeling when everyone works together to get a major drug trafficker off the streets,” Prosecutor Jacob Cook said. “The Panama City Police Department and Case Agent Austin Brock put together a good case that helped lead to a guilty verdict.”

Cook and co-prosecutor Josh James presented witnesses and evidence showing that Panama City police served a search warrant on a 10th Street home on May 8, 2020, and as a result found over 150 grams of methamphetamine, as well as cocaine.

The evidence showed that the defendant attempted to flee when police arrived but was apprehended after a short foot pursuit. Police ultimately recovered 383 multi-colored pills containing methamphetamine packaged in plastic baggies. They also discovered numerous small baggies containing cocaine.

Basford thanked Panama City police for both their proactive efforts and testimony.

For more information, contact Mike Cazalas at mike.cazalas@sa14.fl.gov, or call 850-381-7454.


Man attempting to steal from Jeep found guilty of burglary

A 6-person jury returned guilty verdicts Thursday against a man charged with rummaging through a vehicle on the Beach and claiming it belonged to a friend, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

A jury took about 20 minutes to find Bobby Jack Smith, 52, guilty of Burglary, Carrying a Concealed Weapon, and Resisting an Officer without Violence. Circuit Court Judge Timothy Register set sentencing for Dec. 12.

Prosecutor Jae Hee Kim addresses jurors during her opening statement.





Prosecutor Jae Hee Kim called five witnesses, including Panama City Beach Police Officers Wesley Miller, Sidnie Gulley and Sgt. James Dinse. Miller recorded his encounter with the defendant via his body cam.

The testimony and witnesses proved that the defendant was on Panama City Beach May 4 and witnesses saw him rummaging through a vehicle parked at a condominium. The defendant looked through the Jeep’s middle console, glove box and back seat intending to commit a theft but was spotted and walked away.

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Panama City Beach police responded to the call and found the defendant nearby. Both his encounter with police and his attempt to steal from the Jeep were captured on video.

Defendant Bobby Jack Smith

Kim noted that while burglaries are commonly associated with someone “breaking” into a home or vehicle, the actual crime of burglary occurs when someone enters another person’s structure, home or vehicle with the intent to commit a theft. In this case, while the Jeep did not have a top, the burglary was committed when the defendant reached into the vehicle and began rummaging through it.

“Everybody has the right to be free of others meddling with their property whether it be a home or a vehicle or other structures,” Kim said. “The professionalism of the officers in this case, and Officer Miller’s testimony, gave us confidence in this case and that it would be successfully resolved.”

Basford thanked the Panama City Beach Police Department for its quick response to the call for help that day and its handling of the situation, as well as their testimony at trial and the citizens who spotted the burglary in progress and called police.

For more information, contact Mike Cazalas at mike.cazalas@sa14.fl.gov, or call 850-381-7454.

Campbell sentenced to 35 years for role in Beach murder

The father of the murder victim (light-colored shirt), is comforted by Victim Advocate Lisa Lea Humpich as he speaks to Circuit Court Judge Brantley Clark. Prosecutor Mark Graham (right) and the defendant (left) listen during sentencing.

One of three men convicted of shooting and killing Edward Ross in a 2019 attempted robbery was sentenced to 35 years in prison Thursday, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

Joshua Emmanuel Campbell, 23, of Panama City Beach, pled no contest in November, 2020, to Second-degree Murder with a Firearm and Home Invasion Robbery as part of a plea that required him to testify truthfully against his co-defendants. Circuit Court Judge Brantley Clark sentenced him to 35 years, with the first 25 years being minimum-mandatory. Clark also ordered that the defendant not be held at the same facility as the co-defendants against whom he testified.

The defendant passes Prosecutor Mark Graham on his way to being fingerprinted.

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The defendant was one of three shooters in the case who rushed into the victim’s home intending to rob Ross. Instead, all three fired at and struck Ross while his father stood only feet away watching in shock. Kenneth Ross testified at several trials about seeing his son shot to death in front of him, and he spoke again at Campbell’s sentencing.

“I was promised at the very start of the investigation that his murder would be solved and there would be justice for Ed,” Mr. Ross said, directing his words to the defendant across the courtroom. “That promise was fulfilled and here you sit, convicted of his murder. The world is a little safer now that another bad actor is off the streets.”

Testimony from Campbell and others during the co-defendant’s trials showed the men planned to drive to the victim’s house and rob him, but after they went inside it quickly turned deadly as the three co-defendants fired more than 12 shots combined at the victim.

The first defendant through the door, Andre Devon Bivins, was found guilty of Felony First Degree Murder and Attempted Robbery with a Firearm and is serving a Life-without-parole prison sentence. The third defendant in the house, Abel Ortiz, was found guilty of the same charges and is serving two Life sentences. Because he was 17 when the crime occurred, Ortiz’ sentence will be reviewed in 25 years.

For additional information, contact Mike Cazalas at mike.cazalas@sa14.fl.gov, or call 850-381-7454.