Jury frees man accused of masterminding Panama Metropolis Seashore murder in 2019

Jorge Perez hugs his mother, Madeline Peters, after a Bay County jury acquitted him of the December 2019 murder of a Panama City Beach man, a killing he was accused of masterminding.

Jorge Perez hugs his mom, Madeline Peters, after a Bay County jury acquitted him of the December 2019 homicide of a Panama Metropolis Seashore man, a killing he was accused of masterminding.

PANAMA CITY — A Bay County 14th Judicial Circuit Court docket jury deliberated two hours Thursday earlier than releasing the person accused of being the “mastermind” behind a 2019 armed theft gone awry.

The seven-man, four-woman jury discovered Jorge Perez not responsible of first-degree felony homicide and tried theft armed within the Dec. 29, 2019, loss of life of Edward Ross of Panama Metropolis Seashore.

“I really feel nice, nice I made it dwelling,” Perez informed information media exterior the courthouse. “And for future reference, to everyone on the market, preserve preventing on your case as a result of I do know there’s lots of people that is falsely imprisoned. … Please do not ever cease preventing for y’all’s instances… I been false imprisoned for 30 months and now I get to go dwelling.”

His mom, Madeline Peters, stated, “It has been two, virtually three years which have passed by and I’m simply so completely satisfied to stroll out of this courthouse with my son in my arms at the moment.”

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In closing arguments, Chief Prosecutor Mark Graham known as Perez the “puppet grasp” who orchestrated the armed theft utilizing a gaggle of largely youngsters, one among whom he equipped with a gun. The failed plan resulted in Ross’ loss of life as Perez sat within the again seat of a BMW pushed by a 16-year-old boy, prosecutors stated.

Graham argued that the legislation doesn’t require Perez to have fired a weapon. The legislation for conviction on first-degree felony homicide doesn’t imply the homicide was premeditated. It consists of verbiage that the accused did “incite, trigger, encourage, help or advise the opposite individual.”

“On this case, he actually put the gun within the hand of the assassin,” Graham stated.

Jorge Perez takes the stand in his own defense.

Jorge Perez takes the stand in his personal protection.

Perez denied giving anybody a gun and, he testified, “I wasn’t there in any respect.”

The closely tattooed 22-year-old had taken the stand in his personal protection, telling the jury that he wasn’t on the Seashore when three younger gunmen compelled their means into Ross’ dwelling and opened fireplace.

Perez testified earlier Thursday that he by no means touched the gun. He claimed he was solely within the space making an attempt to chase down his lacking cellphone and charger, which he stated had been taken by one of many gunmen, his longtime good friend. He stated he retrieved his cellphone from him the subsequent day.

Rusty Shepard, one among Perez’s attorneys, identified that no fingerprints or DNA hyperlink Perez to the crime. Shepard stated his consumer “has been ready for 846 days for his day in courtroom.”

He additionally prompt that the three witnesses introduced by the prosecution weren’t essentially the most savory characters.

“Would I like to name Mom Teresa as a witness? Completely,” stated Prosecutor Frank Sullivan. “These are her mates, her followers and the folks he selected her Their testimony corroborates each other.”

Two of the 4 allegedly recruited by Perez testified Wednesday that Perez informed them he had robbed Ross earlier than, offered particulars concerning the inside of Ross’ dwelling and ordered the group to verify the paint cans and overturn sofas to seek out medicine and cash.

A Bay County Sheriff's Office deputy unlocks the handcuffs on Jorge Perez, right, as one of his attorneys speaks with prosecutors Thursday morning.

A Bay County Sheriff’s Workplace deputy unlocks {the handcuffs} on Jorge Perez, proper, as one among his attorneys speaks with prosecutors Thursday morning.

One of many gunmen, who has since been convicted, testified Wednesday that Perez requested them to satisfy as much as “hit a lick,” or rob a drug supplier, claimed to have accomplished it earlier than after which spelled out the plan earlier than ready within the close by BMW pushed by the 16-year-old boy, who was additionally convicted for his function within the killing.

The boy, now 18, additionally testified in opposition to Perez on Wednesday.

Clara Lamson, recognized as Perez’s former girlfriend, additionally testified, telling the jury that Perez had given her gun to one of many boys and that, after it was used to kill Ross, Perez tried to present it again.

She additionally stated that he had requested her per week earlier to arrange an analogous dwelling invasion theft for medicine and cash. She was convicted for her function in that theft.

Protection attorneys prompt that Lamson and the opposite two younger males had been solely testifying to get decreased jail time for his or her crimes.

On Thursday morning, jurors heard from Sgt. Matthew Cutcher, who was the crime scene investigator for the Bay County Sheriff’s Workplace; Elizabeth Richey of the Florida Division of Regulation Enforcement, who did the scientific evaluation figuring out which bullet got here from which gun; and from Lindsey Miller, the previous Bay County Sheriff’s Workplace deputy who traced the cellphone pings from the calls Perez and the younger males positioned. Miller is now an Ohio Legal professional Common’s Workplace investigator.

Medical Examiner Dr. Jay Radke additionally testified, telling jurors that Ross had suffered not less than 5 gunshot wounds. He was shot in his abdomen, thigh, hand and again, He suffered severe wounds to his spleen, kidney and belly aorta.

Acquitted of murder in an armed gone awry, Jorge Perez pleads with anyone accused of a crime to not give hope.  He is shown with his mother, Madeline Peters, left, and sister, Jazlyn George.

Acquitted of homicide in an armed gone awry, Jorge Perez pleads with anybody accused of a criminal offense to not give hope. He’s proven along with his mom, Madeline Peters, left, and sister, Jazlyn George.

Perez testified final.

The jury heard closing arguments by the prosecution and the protection, after which Decide Shonna Younger Homosexual charged the jury.

5 Bay County Sheriff’s Workplace deputies stood within the spectator’s part of the courtroom, which was stuffed with Perez’s family and friends, because the jury returned with the decision.

This text initially appeared on The Information Herald: Bay County murder suspect Jorge Perez acquitted in 2019 slaying

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