Darryl Daniels trial live updates: State, defense rest cases, Daniels will not testify

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. — Testimony continued Thursday in the trial of former Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels. Daniels is charged with two felonies including tampering with evidence and attempted tampering with evidence.

He’s also charged with five counts of giving false information to a law enforcement officer, all misdemeanors. The charges stem from an investigation into Daniels’ relationship with Cierra Smith, a former JSO corrections officer.


Here are the live updates from Action News Jax’s Jake Stofan as they happened in court:

3:57 p.m.: State closes rebuttal.

3:47 p.m.: Defense has wrapped up closing arguments. State making its rebuttal now.

3:20 p.m.: Defense says if Daniels’ email account was so important, FDLE would have subpoenaed Smith’s email account.

3:10 p.m.: Defense notes state had Smith’s phone data and would have been able to see email communications between Daniels and Smith on his deleted account. No such evidence was presented.

3:06 p.m.: Defense notes Daniels looked up how to create a new google account prior to the incident involving Smith. Same with his search for how to recover deleted messages.

3:04 p.m.: Defense argues the arrest of Smith was not the beginning of an investigation, rather, the end of one.

3:02 p.m.: Defense argues Daniels deleted his Google account to prevent his wife from finding it, not law enforcement.

2:57 p.m.: “Did he have an axe to grind? Perhaps,” defense says of Ruby, referencing past internal affairs punishments Ruby was subjected to under Daniels’ term as Sheriff.

2:52 p.m.: Defense accuses Ruby of lying in an effort to shift blame on Daniels to avoid involvement in Smith’s arrest.

2:50 p.m.: Defense says there’s no way Smith could have heard Sergeant Ruby’s conversation with Daniels on May 6th, 2019.

2:40 p.m.: “You watched perjury right before your eyes,” defense says of Smith’s testimony.

2:39 p.m.: “If the relationship was over, there was no prearranged meeting,” defense says.

2:36 p.m.: “Clearly he told her something,” defense characterizes text from Smith stating she’d been crying since Daniels left her home on April 28th, 2019.

2:33 p.m.: Defense says Daniels didn’t break the law by requesting background checks of people associated with Smith.

2:32 p.m.: Defense says state was investigating Daniels for abuse of power by having Smith arrested, which it claims the evidence proves didn’t happen.

2:29 p.m.: Defense has begun closing arguments. Defense says the state has done a great job of ‘proving an affair’ but not a ‘crime’.

2:15 p.m.: State has concluded the first portion of its closing arguments. Defense will now make closing arguments before state has one opportunity for rebottle.

2:10 p.m.: Here’s a simple breakdown of the alleged actions Daniels’ charges stem from.

Evidence tampering (3rd degree felony):

-Deleting Google account Attempted evidence tampering (3rd degree felony):

-Deleting phone data and asking for agency phone to be wiped

Lying to police (1st degree misdemeanor):

-Lying to Sergeant Chris Ruby about seeking a restraining order against Smith

-Lying to Sergeant Ruby he’d ended his relationship with Smith

-Lying to FDLE investigators about telling Sergeant Ruby he wanted Smith arrested

Lying to police continued (1st degree misdemeanor):

-Lying to FDLE about requesting background searches on people tied to Smith

-Lying to FDLE about having CashApp, SnapChat and Kick Messenger on agency phone

2:07 p.m.: State argues while Daniels claimed he said he didn’t want to get involved in decision making surrounding Smith’s arrest, he called Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams requesting Smith be housed in Duval’s jail, thereby getting involved in the case.

2:04 p.m.: State argues Smith corroborates Sergeant Ruby’s testimony regarding Daniels asking for Smith’s arrest. Smith claimed she overheard Daniels making that request.

1:59 p.m.: State notes Daniels never indicated he wanted Smith to stop contacting him between their last meeting April 28th, 2019 and the May 6th incident where Smith was arrested for stalking.

1:57 p.m.: State notes Daniels told Smith he’d talk to her the next day, after telling his wife about the affair.

1:56 p.m.: State argues Daniels didn’t end his relationship with Smith prior to May 6th, 2019 incident noting Smith continued to use pet name ‘moch’ to Daniels after defense argues Daniels broke things off.

1:50 p.m.: “He had to do damage control,” prosecutor says of Daniels’ motivation for revealing affair to his wife.

1:47 p.m.: State argues Ruby’s testimony Daniels told him he sought and injunction against Smith established legitimacy to the idea Daniels had previously been stalked by Smith.

1:39 p.m.: Defense notes personal information on agency phone was not backed up by CCSO archive.

1:24 p.m.: “Do you think it’s just a coincidence?” prosecutor asks jury, referencing deletion of Daniels’ 10-year-old gmail account hours after the arrest of his former mistress.

1:19 p.m.: “He began the investigation,” prosecutor says of Daniels, arguing when Daniels called for deputies the stalking investigation began and the deletion of his google account later that night constituted evidence tampering.

1:17 p.m.: State tells jury to focus on jury instructions. Says his close will focus on how evidence meets each element of alleged crime.

1:16 p.m.: “The defendant used his position for personal gain,” -prosecutor.

1:15 p.m.: “Our criminal justice system is based on honesty” opening line of state’s closing argument.

1:03 p.m.: Court back in session. State will make closing arguments soon.

11:45 a.m.: Court breaks for lunch until 12:55 p.m. Closing arguments will begin when court resumes.

11:13 a.m.: Judge denies special instruction request.

11:04 a.m.: Defense wants to use the term ‘material’ as it argues this was a common law standard and ‘concerning’ is to vague.

11:02 a.m.: Defense and state arguing special jury instructions on lying to law enforcement charges. Question revolves around whether statement must be ‘material’ to a criminal investigation or ‘concerning’ (which is the term used in state statute) the investigation to constitute a crime.

10:27 a.m.: Defense set to rest case. No witnesses. Closing arguments set to begin soon. Daniels will not testify.

10:24 a.m.: Judge declines to grant acquittal.

10:22 a.m.: Defense also argues messages on Snapchat and Kik Messenger automatically delete, so deleting the app didn’t change anything.

10:21 a.m.: Defense argues Daniels told investigators he did use cashapp. Claims whether he had the app on his agency phone or not was irrelevant.

10:20 a.m.: Defense begins rebuttal on motion for acquittal on all counts.

10:19 a.m.: State argues alleged deletion of apps is relevant because the investigation encompassed evidence tampering.

10:18 a.m.: State argues FDLE questioning about background check requests were relevant to stalking because investigating stalking requires knowledge of the depth of a relationship.

10:15 a.m.: State argues it was not clear the relationship between Smith and Daniels had ended because they continued to text after April 28th, 2019 meeting and he’d texted her a romantic text the morning the defense claims they’d broken up.

10:13 a.m.: State argues while alleged statement made by Daniels requesting Smith be arrested may not have been a main factor of Smith’s arrest, it was a material claim related to a criminal investigation.

10:11 a.m.: State contends it doesn’t make sense for defense to claim Daniels wanted his agency phone wiped to protect his wife, since the defense also has repeatedly claimed Daniels almost exclusively contacted his former mistress using his personal phone.

10:08 a.m.: State says court precedent cited by defense requires deleted data to still be available to law enforcement, which it contends is not the case with Daniels’ Google account.

10:02 a.m.: State says timing of Daniels’ searches for how to recover deleted messages and how to delete a google account is an ‘aggravator’.

10 a.m.: State argues Google account contents were not available after it was deleted.

9:59 a.m.: State says ‘intent’ is an issue for the jury when it comes to evidence tampering charges.

9:58 a.m.: Defense argues the charge against Daniels alleging he lied to investigators about apps installed on his work phone should be thrown out because there’s no evidence to show when the apps were deleted, installed or whether they were ever used on the phone. State takes the podium.

9:56 a.m.: Defense argues charge related to Daniels allegedly lying to FDLE about accessing criminal databases to run background checks is irrelevant to the stalking charge that spurred the investigation.

WEDNESDAY IN COURT: Darryl Daniels trial: Court listens to Daniels’ interview with FDLE investigator

9:54 a.m.: Defense argues count related to lying to law enforcement about Daniels calling for Smith’s arrest, Daniels said “Do what you need to do” to Ruby. Ruby has contended in testimony Daniels did say he wanted Smith arrested.

9:51 a.m.: Defense argues whether Daniels sought an injunction or not is irrelevant because Ruby did not include that as contributing to probable cause for arrest.

9:50 a.m.: Defense claims one count of lying to police should be thrown out because the question of whether Daniels told Sergeant Ruby he attempted to obtain a restraining order against Cierra Smith, essentially comes down to Daniels’ word against Ruby’s. Questions Ruby’s credibility.

TUESDAY IN COURT: Former Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams testifies

9:48 a.m.: Defense also claims agency backups of phone data absolves Daniels of evidence tampering.

9:46 a.m.: Defense also argues deletion of data on agency phone was to spare his wife, not to conceal evidence.

9:44 a.m.: Defense argues account was deleted to ‘spare’ Daniels wife pain, not to conceal evidence. Defense argues account was deleted to ‘spare’ Daniels wife pain, not to conceal evidence.

RELATED: Jury selection begins in trial of former Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels

9:43 a.m.: Defense also argues because the google account was deleted prior to Daniels having knowledge an investigation existed or would be commenced, his actions do not meet the burden of evidence tampering, which requires intent to interfere with a law enforcement investigation.

9:40 a.m.: Defense argues case precedent holds because the state was able to access information deleted from google account through other means (accessing Cierra Smith’s phone data and records) it does not qualify as destruction of evidence.

9:34 a.m.: Defense make motion for acquittal of all counts.

RELATED: Former Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels appears in court, trial date set

9:33 a.m.: Only question for Flak having to do with Flak’s memory of Daniels requesting a new agency phone. Flak says she doesn’t remember such a request on specific date. State has rested its case.

9:32 a.m.: Flak is the Senior Executive Assistant to the Clay County Sheriff.

9:30 a.m.: Final state’s witness Denise Flak set to take the stand.

2021: New documents, recordings released in investigation into former Clay sheriff Darryl Daniels

9:28 a.m.: Defense again clarifies the background check requests were about a year prior to the May 6th, 2019 incident.

9:26 a.m.: McKinney doesn’t have any specific recollection of the request for the background checks on Larry Smith and Armesha Johnson from Daniels, says Daniels would make background check requests a few times a month.

9:24 a.m.: McKinney says it wasn’t uncommon for Daniels to request background checks following up on things he heard in the community.

2020: FDLE says Daniels lied to investigators

9:21 a.m.: Wayne McKinney enters the courtroom to take the witness stand for the second time.

9:17 a.m.: Kelley was also asked to run a background check on Cierra Smith’s husband, Larry Smith.

9:16 a.m.: Kelley says it’s common practice to access public and confidential databases when asked to run a background check. Says it would be ‘very unusual’ for a request to specify which database to use.

2020: Darryl Daniels: Former Clay County sheriff officially charged with evidence tampering, false reports to law enforcement

9:14 a.m.: A little background on how Armesha Johnson fits into this case: You are not above the law: Woman harassed by Clay County Sheriff speaks out

9:10 a.m.: Defense notes some of the background check databases Kelley had access to were also available to the public. Defense points out Kelley was not asked to access a specific data base, just to ‘run a background’ on Johnson.

9:06 a.m.: Defense notes the request for the background check came more than a year prior to the May 6th, 2019 incident that ended in the result of Daniels’ former mistress Cierra Smith.

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9:04 a.m.: Kelley says there was no criminal predicate relayed to him by McKinney for running the background check.

9:02 a.m.: Kelley says he received the request for the background check on a Saturday evening when he was not on call. Kelley says he asked if it could wait until Monday. Kelley says McKinney told him it could not wait.

9:00 a.m.: Kelley says there would need to be some type of criminal activity suspected for law enforcement to run a background check. Johnson was not from Florida based on the available information according to Kelley.

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8:59 a.m.: Kelley says the request for the background check came from Daniels, through the chain of command.

8:57 a.m.: February 6th, 2018 Kelley says he was asked by Chief McKinney to run a background check on Armesha Johnson. Kelley says he sent that background check to Darryl Daniels.

8:51 a.m.: Con Kelley is first on the witness stand this morning. The state has two more witnesses after Kelley. The defense told me witnesses will be ‘a game time decision’.

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