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Former Jackson County Sheriff Accused Of Planting Drugs Found Guilty

Former Jackson County Sheriff's Deputy Zachary Wester.
Jackson County Courthouse
Former Jackson County Sheriff's Deputy Zachary Wester.

Former Jackson County Sheriff Zachary Wester has been found guilty of planting drugs on three motorists during traffic stops. Jurors dismissed charges stemming from the arrests of nine other victims.

Teresa Odom is one of the victims. She was pulled over on February 15, 2018. Footage of her stop and later arrest were played in court.

"The reason for my stop is your brake lights. They work one minute and the next minute they don’t work and then a few seconds later they just flash," said Wester.

"I think that’s probably because of the rain," said Odom

"That’s okay. You got your driver’s license on you, Mam," said Wester.

"Yes, I do," said Odom.

During the stop, Odom consented to a search of her vehicle during which Wester claimed to find a small plastic bag with methamphetamine in it. Odom told Wester the bag was not hers, and during her testimony before jurors, said the same.

"The area of the purse, when you were still in the back of the patrol car, the area of your purse that the deputy said he found that baggie of meth, I mean had you been in your purse that day?" asked Williams.

"I had just cleaned my purse out looking for that money, that $5," said Odom.

"Did you see any small white plastic baggies in there?" asked Williams.

"No. Absolutely not," said Odom.

The body camera footage was a piece of evidence used to convict Wester.

He was found guilty on charges related to Odom, Joshua Emmanuel, and Steven Vann. Judge James Goodman delivered the jury’s decision—including a guilty verdict on the most serious charge: racketeering.

"He was also found guilty of three counts guilty of official misconduct, three counts of perjury, three counts of fabricating evidence, three counts of possession of a controlled substance, three counts of paraphernalia, and two counts of false imprisonment," said Goodman.

Goodman scheduled a pre-sentence hearing for Monday. During that time the court will decide when sentencing will take place.

Blaise Gainey is a State Government Reporter for WFSU News. Blaise hails from Windermere, Florida. He graduated from The School of Journalism at the Florida A&M University. He formerly worked for The Florida Channel, WTXL-TV, and before graduating interned with WFSU News. He is excited to return to the newsroom. In his spare time he enjoys watching sports, Netflix, outdoor activities and anything involving his daughter.