One of the more unusual cases I've monitored started in Judge Tim Shea's courtroom on Wednesday. The defendant, William Rawlings Thomson Jr., was convicted last year of Attempted 1st Degree Murder, Aggravated Battery (Great Bodily Harm), and Burglary in an incredibly brutal attack on his wife. He was convicted in February 2008 and sentenced in July by Judge Jose Rodriguez to LIFE + 30 years + 15 years (all consecutive). Assistant State Attorney Michelle Latham did an outstanding job of presenting the State's case. Defense Attorneys David Webster and James Disinger provided a vigorous defense. Judge Jose Rodriguez was extremely thorough as he presided over the case.
After the jury convicted him, Thomson began a letter writing campaign with a complaint to the Bar Association alleging that an improper relationship existed between Latham and Webster. When that complaint was investigated and determined to be unfounded, he turned to DCF to allege she was neglecting her child. Two DCF investigations were closed as unfounded - not without having traumatized her son, however. Thomson also wrote to Governor Crist to complain about Latham, his attorney, and the inadequate investigations done by the Bar & DCF. There were approximately 80 pages of letters and other documents introduced into evidence. Unfortunately for Thomson, he couldn't have picked a squeakier clean attorney to complain about that Ms. Latham.
Wednesday's witnesses included Ms. Latham, Counsel for the Florida Bar Association, DCF's Counsel, previous Counsel for the defendant (Webster & Disinger) and Judge Rodriguez. An overwhelming picture of harrassment was portrayed by State Attorney Erin DeYoung. The State rested its case at 5:00pm and the jury went home.
Mr. Thomson, whose case I monitored last year, testified this morning. He emphasized that he only filed the complaint to DCF because he had the "best interest of the children" in mind (not knowing she only had one). DeYoung effectively pointed out that his first two complaint letters mentioned nothing about the child. She systematically went through the numerous letters and demonstrated that Mr. Thomson was fixated on punishing Ms. Latham for his verdict.
As he failed to have any sort of sanctions imposed against Ms. Latham, his stories and his demands for retribution escalated until the State filed formal charges in November. In addition to the "improper relationship" and child neglect, he alleged drug usage by his attorney and Ms. Latham, and bribery of the judge and Ms. Latham. He made complaints about the quality of the investigations by the Bar and DCF to the Governor's Office. He even testified that the Bar Association should have put Ms. Latham under surveillance (so they could see that she was indeed out clubbing every night and leaving her child unsupervised). Thomson asserted that he wrote so many letters because he did not get a reply to his complaints.
In his closing argument, Defense Counsel Sean Landers claimed this was a case of vindictive prosecution by the State Attorney's Office because the alleged victim was one of their own. Ms. DeYoung admitted that the nature of an attorney's job (whether a prosecutor or defense attorney) creates a likelihood that they will have to deal with complaints. Where Mr. Thomson crossed the line, however, is in attacking Ms. Latham's family. Because DCF was called, her son (a special needs child whom she adopted from DCF and who did not have a good experience in foster care) was put in fear that he would be taken away from his mother. That is why the State wanted Mr. Thomson held accountable for his behavior.
The jury is currently deliberating. I'll let you know what they decide.