In the early morning hours of June 25, 1987, the life of Florida shop owner Rama Sharma came to an abrupt and tragic end.
Four days later, the life of 20 year old Samuel Jason Derrick also took a tragic turn when he was charged with the murder despite the absence of any physical, forensic or DNA evidence connecting him to the crime.
Pasco County sheriff detectives originally focused their investigation on David Lowery, who became a prime suspect after the authorities received a tip with a partial vehicle license plate of a car which matched David Lowery’s vehicle that was seen driving suspiciously around the crime scene vicinity during the early morning hours of June 25, 1987.
David Lowery deflected the investigation away from himself by implicating his then friend Jason Derrick. Sheriff detectives focused their investigation on Samuel Jason Derrick who was charged, indicted, tried and sentenced to die for a crime he did not commit.
From day one, Jason has maintained his innocence.
Despite numerous inconsistencies and many unanswered questions in the state’s case, Samuel Jason Derrick continues to sit on Death Row.
Five Pasco County detectives swore under oath that he confessed to the crime. There is no written, audio or video record of this “alleged” confession or personal handwritten interrogation notes by any of the five detectives.
Details that David Lowery and the five detectives swore under oath that Samuel Jason Derrick “confessed” to them have no basis in reality and conflict with actual details reported by Medical Examiner Dr. Edward Corcoran.
David Lowery testified under oath that he saw Jason Derrick with a double-edged knife on the eve of the murder. According to Medical Examiner Dr.Edward Corcoran, the stab wounds were made with a single-edged knife.
The detectives testified that Jason Derrick confessed to stabbing the victim 13 times. Dr.Edward Corcoran, in his official autopsy report stated that the victim was stabbed 33 times.
The detectives testified that it was confessed to them that the crime took place at 10:30 pm on June 24, 1987. Medical Examiner Dr.Edward Corcoran testified that the time of death was 6:00 am on June 25, 1987.
Prosecutor Michael Halkitis repeatedly discredited the testimony
of his own witness, that of Medical Examiner Dr. Edward Corcoran. In his closing arguments, he informed the jury that Dr. Corcoran was mistaken about the murder weapon and about the time of death.
Dr. Corcoran, the State’s own Qualified Expert witness, a Medical Examiner who had performed between 2600-2700 autopsies, stated that the wounds were made with a single-edged knife.
What does it really mean to be innocent on Death Row? It means that your infant son grows to adulthood without your presence. It means that your marriage ends in divorce. It means nearly half of your life is spent in a 6 x 9 foot cell. And it means that the real killer is walking free while each day that passes without your case being reexamined you move one step closer to the death chamber.
It is long past time for the truth. Samuel Jason Derrick must be granted a new trial.
Justice must prevail.