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“CHARGED FOR REPORTING A CRIME”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Oct. 30, 2014) — The Post & Email was notified just after 3:00 p.m. EDT that Dixie County, FL resident Terry Trussell has been released from the county jail on bond after a 10:00 a.m. EDT hearing.
Trussell was jailed by Judge James C. Hankinson on October 9 after Hankinson declared him guilty of “failure to appear” for a scheduled arraignment hearing on charges stemming from Trussell’s reporting of corruption within the Dixie County courthouse. Trussell had, in fact, identified himself as present in the courtroom, which eyewitnesses reported Hankinson ignored, then ordered sheriff’s deputies to handcuff and arrest him.
An eyewitness to Thursday’s proceedings, Col. Harry Riley (Ret.) told The Post & Email that Hankinson presided over the one-hour hearing, during which “the judge concluded that it was appropriate to issue bail today for Terry. He set a February trial date, but there’s a whole lot of legal wrangling that’s going to go on before that happens.”
Riley described the charges as “preposterous” and “ridiculous.” “The court looks totally incompetent,” he told us. “The prosecuting attorney today was mumbling and stumbling. It didn’t appear the judge was very happy with the answers he was getting from the prosecuting attorney. The prosecuting was trying to add additional requirements to the release question, and the judge discounted those and ignored them. Basically, Terry is being charged for reporting a crime.”
Riley said that as the former Dixie County grand jury foreman, Trussell had tried to properly report evidence of a “potential crime” which was presented to him in his official capacity but was overridden by State’s Attorney Jeffrey Siegmeister. “Right now, he’s out and reunited with his wife,” Riley concluded.
Siegmeister was not the prosecuting attorney at today’s hearing.
When The Post & Email asked about Trussell’s appearance, Riley responded, “He was very sharp in his discussion and questioning with the judge. He had a pretty good growth of beard; he’s thinner than he was. I talked with him personally for a couple of minutes after he was released and showed up at a restaurant where all of the supporters who were in the courtroom met. He was very active and obviously, very happy to be out of jail, where he shouldn’t have been at all. He identified to me the fact that he was eager to pursue this and bring it to a conclusion where he would be found ‘not guilty.'”
Riley told us that there were “about 50” supporters who drove from various parts of Florida to attend the hearing as well as an individual who drove down from North Carolina.