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Jury finds former Jackson County deputy Zach Wester guilty on 19 of 67 charges

Guilty verdicts include fabrication of evidence, possession of drugs, & false imprisonment
Posted at 9:40 AM, May 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-18 17:17:33-04

JACKSON COUNTY, Fla. (WTXL) — Jurors in the trial of former deputy Zach Wester reached a verdict Tuesday afternoon after spending several hours Monday and Tuesday poring over evidence in the case.

The jury found Wester guilty of 19 of the 67 charges, including fabrication of evidence, possession of drugs, & false imprisonment.

The jury found Wester guilty of racketeering and official misconduct related to Teresa Odum, Joshua Emmanual, and Steven Vann.

Wester was also found guilty of perjury related to Terasa Odum, Joshua Emmanuel, and Steven Vann as well as fabricating evidence in the cases of Teresa Odum, Joshua Emmanuel, and Steven Vann.

The jurors also found Wester guilty on seven charges of possession of a controlled substance and false imprisonment of Teresa Odum, and Steven Vann.

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

Sentencing will take place on Monday, May 24, 2021.

Wester will be booked in the Jackson County jail.

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.

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

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

After closing arguments began on the sixth trial day the jury began deliberations. Deliberations ran roughly three hours on Monday and five Tuesday.

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