I touched on this story last week, when the Grand Jury returned ‘No True Bill’ against Dejerion Stewart and Eddie Leonard. Yesterday the parents responded for the first time in an interview with ABC-7, and they are distraught, as one might imagine.
I have been able to obtain a copy of the grand jury presentment, which I will upload to this blog. The facts as summarized by the grand jury are thin. Stewart is alleged to be the primary actor; that he planned the robbery and was the shooter. Leonard was charged as a principal, which means he aided, abetted or encouraged the crime in some way. However, the evidence is thin. The only thing the grand jury found to implicate Stewart was the statement of Leonard. It would be exceptionally difficult to prove the case merely on a co-defendant’s story, especially when he changed his story and it was primarily self-serving. The grand jury didn’t find any evidence as to Leonard’s participation, and his mere presence is not sufficient under the law, even with Florida’s relatively broad application of principal theory.
I have not been able to review the statements of Leonard or the arresting officer. The SAO indicated that the case is still an open investigation, so the reports are not subject to public records requests at this time. The police department has indicated the investigation is continuing, and news cameras showed divers working a pond near the scene. There is still substantial time for additional evidence to be presented to the grand jury that might convince them to go forward. I anticipate more on this story in the coming weeks.