JACKSON COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB)–On Friday, jurors heard day five of testimony in Zachary Wester’s trial. He’s the former Jackson County deputy accused of planting drugs on people during traffic stops and arresting them. The moment that many people have been waiting for also arrived. The defense called Zachary Wester to the stand and the state asked him some highly anticipated questions.
Wester and his attorney used much of Friday to rebut the allegations against him. They went through each of the twelve individuals who claim to be victims of his actions. Wester answered questions asked by his attorney and seemed to have an explanation for everything he is accused of.
“Did you plant that syringe in Mr. Emanuel’s car? I did not,” Davis asked Wester.
The state and defense asked why only partial body camera footage exists in most of the arrests in question.
“My camera I guess hit the seat. The same way it happened with James Fears? Yes. Same way in Steven Vann’s? Yes, that is correct,” Wester said.
Wester credits his size to why the camera shuts off. He said when searching the vehicle he would sometimes accidentally hit the camera against car seats.
As for the drugs and paraphernalia that was found in his patrol car, he claims he responded to a call for abandoned property at Alford Community Park hours before his patrol car was seized. He said he didn’t get a chance to label or log any of those drugs because he had to leave and respond to two separate traffic crashes.
“There are CAD reports from that day so clearly they were working but there’s none for what you’re saying occurred? Is there? Right,” Wester told Assistant State Attorney Thomas Williams.
The state also questioned his encounter with alleged victim, Teresa Odom. Earlier in the week, jurors saw bodycam footage of Wester searching her car with a baggie in one of his hands. Wester says he found that baggie in her door latch and that it didn’t appear to be drug-related. Since it didn’t appear to be evidentiary, he says that’s why he handled it with his bare hands. He says he later lost it during the search.
“I put that baggie in the front side floorboard, I never seen it again,” Wester said.
Wester believes the wind could have blown the bag across Highway 231.
Moments later, he discovers what he says is a different baggie, this one full of meth, in her car. The state asked him about it, implying he brought the meth bag into her car.
“What’re you asking? Are you asking if the bag that I recovered from the door latch was different than the bag in her purse?” Wester asked Williams.
“I’m asking if there ever even was a second bag. Was there anything other than that bag, that same bag palmed in your hand, that you later put in her purse and acted as you found in her purse?” Willams replied.
“What you just presented to the jury is absolutely absurd and not factual at all,” Wester said.
The jury will reconvene Monday morning to hear closing arguments and instructions. Then they will have to reach a verdict.