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Zach Wester trial day 6: Closing arguments

Posted at 12:09 PM, May 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-17 17:12:42-04

JACKSON COUNTY, Fla. (WTXL) — Closing arguments began on the sixth trial day for former Jackson County deputy Zach Wester.

Wester could face about 13 and a half years in state prison.

Before the jury entered, Wester's attorney discussed a motion of acquittal

Prosecutor Tom Williams began his closings by talking about the oath taken by law enforcement, "This is a case about that abuse of power."

"He could not have done of these things without the use of that badge, that honor, that uniform," Williams said. "He turned it into a criminal enterprise in which he committed a pattern of crimes against these people."

Prosecutor Tom Williams

"Why in the world, if it were there, would he alert the Deputy's attention to it? It's because it wasn't there," Williams said of Joshua Emmanuel. "The video like several others begins after he's already been in the car and started the search."

"He seems to have a lot of mistakes," Williams continued. "It just so happens those mistakes occur when he's allegedly finding drugs in people's cars."

Williams said the most incredible thing about the Odom stop is, "why in the world does the defendant have clasped in his hand a plastic baggie by his own admission? This is him planting evidence and you see it. His explanation is not reasonable and makes no sense."

Defense Attorney Ryan Davis began closing arguments saying, "Inspect the case. Look under the hood, kick the tires. Is it really as big as it appears?"

Defense Attorney Ryan Davis

Davis says the year without bodycam video was under Lt. Hodges watch, then at the end of 2017, body cameras were upgraded. That's when there is more body camera footage.

Davis went through each witness's testimony and gave his client's explanation for the theories presented by the state.

The judge advised the jury to let their family and friends know they'll be away from the phone once deliberations start.

After a short break, the three alternate jurors were released. The remaining jurors surrendered electronic devices to the court before heading into deliberations.

Roughly 45 minutes into deliberations, the jury requested access to evidence, the field test kit found in Wester's patrol car when he was suspended from JCSO.

BACKGROUND

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement began 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 16 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.

Details from day one of Wester's trial can be found by clicking here.

Details from day two of Wester's trial can be found by clicking here.

Details from day three of Wester's trial can be found by clicking here.

Details from day four of Wester's trial can be found by clicking here.

The jury consisted of two female jurors and seven male jurors.