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Trial for Jackson County deputy accused of planting evidence begins Monday

Zach Wester
Posted at 3:54 PM, May 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-18 16:33:10-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Zach Wester, the former Jackson County Deputy fired for planting evidence during traffic stops will face a jury starting Monday, May 10.

The jury selection in State v. Wester was completed May 5, 2021. The jury consisting of six jurors and three alternates will hear the case at the Jackson County Courthouse.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement started its investigation into Wester in August 2018 and believes his actions resulted in more than 100 people being wrongly charged. Wester entered a not guilty plea in July.

According to court records, Wester is looking at 76 charges that include official misconduct, perjury, fabrication of evidence, possession of drugs, and false imprisonment

In most of the incidents reported in the affidavit, Wester's body-cam was either not recording, or only recorded part of the stop, whether that was the initial connection with the driver, or after a search of the car had already started.

Investigators believe that Wester placed drugs and other paraphernalia inside at least 12 victims' cars when his camera was off.

"The investigation revealed 42 items of drug paraphernalia, 10 separately packaged quantities of methamphetamine, and five separate items of marijuana. All of those items were recovered in deputy Wester's patrol vehicle," said Chris Williams, Assistant Special Agent in charge of FDLE Pensacola region.

If Wester is found guilty of all charges, he could face about 13 and a half years in state prison.

The jury consists of two female jurors and seven male jurors. The trial is anticipated to last roughly three weeks.