What Not to Do When You Get Arrested
BUSTED! NOW WHAT DO I DO? A deadly lesson in what NOT to do.
In 2007 Rachel Morningstar Hoffman was stopped by the Tallahassee Police Department for speeding. She couldn't have known that being in a hurry would result in her death.
During the stop an ounce of Marijuana was discovered in her car. This led to her participation in Leon County's Drug Court. This program is administrated by the State Attorney's Office led by Willie Meggs. The terms of this program are,basically,Pay the fine, stay clean for the duration,fulfill all requirements of the court(community service,etc.). Well, things were going well with the diversion program(thanks to The Wizzinator) right up to April 15,2008. TPD Investigator Ryan Pender(B#780) recieved information that she was selling large amounts of Cannabis. This, and other info, resulted in Ofc. Pender seeking a search warrant. While Ofc. Pender was enroute to write the application for the warrant, Rachel was observed exiting her building and attempting to enter her vehicle. she was detained by Ofc.Pate, miranda'd and confessed to having 1/4lb of cannabis,2"Ecstasy" pills and 4 valium pills in her residence.
SO. here's where Rachel stands as of the evening of 4/17/08. Possession of over 20 grams of Cannabis. Felony. Possession of MDMA. Felony. Possession of Valium. Felony. Let's see...That's at least 3 felonies, not to mention the diversion program which goes straight in the toilet if they find out about this. During interrogation she also confesses to selling 10-15 Lb's of Cannabis per week.
She was a 23 year old Free Spirit, A 'Hippie Chick' as the cops, who got her killed, referred to her. She loved Jam bands and music festivals. She had a degree from FSU in Criminology and psychology, but she wanted to go to culinary school to be a chef. She did not want her parents to know about this. A deal was struck. If she delivered a bigger bust, April 17th never happened. She was not charged with the 4/17 bust, the state attorney was not notified, and a naive(if not stupid) chick was set loose to collar some 'big time' drug dealers. Does she flip on her source? Are you kidding? Where's she gonna get her pot when this is all over? No, what happens is she smokes a joint on the way to get her car detailed. One of the guys working on the car comments on the good smell eminating from the car. Hmmm.....'Know where I can score 1500 hits of X, 2 1/2 OZ's of coke, and, by the way, I'd like a couple of assault rifles with that.' Would you like that super-sized?
On May 7,2008, Rachel and TPD,FHP & DEA set up a 'Buy/Bust' meeting at a city owned public park specified by the TPD agents. There were 15+ TPD officers, 1 FHP officer and 3 DEA agents actually participating in the"Transaction". She was given $13,000 in marked cash and fed to the wolves. She wasn't even familiar with the area where the transaction was supposed to take place. The targets called her and changed the meet to a dead end road 2 miles away. She notified TPD as to where she was going. Out of 20+ officers participating, only one even knew where Gardner Road is. Her cell phone went dead as well as the audio surveillance equipment. The oficers tasked with visually monitoring her lost sight of her. The DEA plane overhead couldn't monitor her due to"tree cover", if they even knew where to look.
The next morning TPD holds a press conference about"A missing woman, facing felony charges, went missing while assisting them in a drug investigation." Her father offers a $150,000 reward for info. Her car is discovered in Perry, FL 60 miles away around noon. FDLE arrests the two suspects(who TPD said they did not know of before this- in spite of the fact that one of them was being investigated for the theft of a .25 caliber pistol from the detail shop where they worked.) in Orlando, 200 miles away, by 5 PM. On the 9th they lead investigators to her body in Taylor County, dumped off of a dirt road. Dead by gunshot wounds, probably from the gun they were gonna sell her before they decided to rob her. Her mother buried her 2 days after Mother's Day.
The Grand Jury that indicted the two suspects called the handling of this case by TPD"Unconscionable". The DEA will not allow their agents to testify before the Grand Jury about their involvement.
The moral of the story? Speeding can get you killed in Tallahassee, FL.
Where she went wrong.
She liked to smoke pot.
She committed a moving violation while driving and in possession of a controlled substance.
She had the right to remain silent. But, apparently, not the ability. Never confess. It may be good for the soul, make 'em prove it anyway.
She had the right to an attorney, in fact she had one from the first case. She didn't use him. If her dad had the opportunity to use the $150k reward money for a good lawyer, she'd be alive and,more than likely, not have had to serve a day in prison. She just wasn't that big of a fish in the Tallahassee pond.
She obviously trusted TPD to look after her interests more than she trusted her parent's ability to deal with what happened. Look what that got her.
She made a deal with TPD. You don't make deals with the cops. If you're gonna make a deal, make it with the prosecutor via your lawyer. If you are offered this kind of deal by the cops, politely decline and have your attorney see if the DA is aware that the police are making these types of deals.
She tried to do a $13k deal with people she had never dealt with before. BIG red flag.
She took the cash to the deal before checking out what she was gonna buy instead of looking at the goods and arranging for someone(maybe a cop?) to bring the money after she was satisfied.
She was naive to the point of stupidity.
This is not about the drug war. this is about the death of a young woman while under the 'supervision and protection' of three law enforcement agencies.
info on this case can be found at www.tallahassee.com
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