The thrice-delayed sex scandal trial of former Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels is set to begin with Monday jury selection, according to court officials.
Already postponed from Dec. 6 to Feb. 21, then May 16, Circuit Court Judge R. Lee Smith has blocked out two weeks for the trial, officials said.
Gov. Ron DeSantis removed Daniels as Clay County sheriff about two years ago. That came a day after he was arrested on charges of destroying evidence and three more counts of knowingly giving false information to law enforcement in a sex scandal where he had ordered deputies to arrest his mistress for stalking, court records show.
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Then more criminal charges were filed in February against the ex-sheriff for two more counts of false reporting to law enforcement, and a new one of tampering or destroying evidence, according to Clay County court records.
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Daniels was arrested Aug. 13, 2020, on felony and misdemeanor charges following a year-long Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation into whether he had used his position to illegally order the arrest of a woman he'd had an affair with.
The scandal surfaced when the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, where Daniels had worked as jail director, announced an internal investigation into a corrections officer with whom Daniels had sex. Daniels told his wife about the affair, then had his deputies arrest the woman in May 2019 on stalking allegations.
The investigation showed that Daniels called emergency dispatch that evening, saying he needed backup because he was being followed and was in fear of his life. The person following him was Cierra Smith, his mistress of six years and the corrections officer he had previously supervised.
Deputies told prosecutors they didn't feel there was just cause to arrest the woman. Smith resigned from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office while under investigation for misconduct claims.
The 4th Circuit State Attorney's Office requested the FDLE investigate Daniels after recusing itself due to conflict of interest. That investigation found Daniels lied and also destroyed evidence to keep his affair with Smith from coming to light.
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Daniels had decried the 2020 arrest in a video made by Sheriff's Office employees, saying any issues were personal and didn't affect his job as sheriff, even though it included an order he gave to staff.
DeSantis removed Daniels from office the day after the first-term sheriff's arrest. The governor appointed Michelle Cook as interim sheriff. Cook then beat Daniels and four others to become the county's first female sheriff, and she officially finished his term before taking the job full-time.
The new tampering count states that a Google account was altered, destroyed or concealed in 2019, knowing that a criminal case was pending. Specifics on the new false reports charges were not available.
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The trial will be handled by a St. Johns County judge following an Oct. 10, 2020, letter to the state from Clay County's Circuit Court judges stating that grounds exist for recusal of all remaining judges from handling Daniels' trial.
Assistant State Attorney Richard Buxman is set to prosecute as attorney Matthew Kachergus handles Daniels' defense.
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This article originally appeared on Florida Times-Union: Sex scandal trial of ex-Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels set