Derrick Thompson faces the death penalty in two circuit courts, but his case - like all other capital punishment cases in Florida - has been in limbo since the U.S. Supreme Court upended the state's death penalty procedures.
PANAMA CITY — A local man who admitted to killing a Santa Rosa County couple and a former local narcotics officer to feed his prescription pill addiction now is demanding a speedy trial before state lawmakers rework Florida's capital punishment procedures.
Derrick Ray Thompson, 43, filed a demand for a speedy trial Tuesday morning after almost two years of incarceration in connection with the deaths of the three people. He is charged with three first-degree murder charges stemming from July 2014, including the shooting death of a former Bay County Sheriff's officer and nightclub owner, 66-year-old Allen Johnson. Thompson faces the death penalty in two circuit courts, but his case - like all other capital punishment cases in Florida — has been in limbo since the U.S. Supreme Court last year upended the state's death penalty procedures.
However, the move Tuesday signaled Thompson intends to push through a resolution in his cases sooner rather than later. The demand effectively would give the prosecution and court only 60 more days to prepare for trial. It's unclear if the death penalty phase could be postponed until state lawmakers can appease the high court.
Thompson did not appear in court for the hearing as he is currently being held in Santa Rosa County, where a similar motion has been filed. His defense attorney Kim Jewell appeared on his behalf to partially explain the sudden haste.
Prosecutor Larry Basford, chief deputy of the State Attorney's Office, did not immediately respond to the demand. Neither did Circuit Judge Hentz McClellan, who determined all parties should review the filing and meet again Thursday to discuss an outcome.
Police said Thompson, of Pensacola, confessed to all three homicides after his capture but later pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Prosecutors in Santa Rosa County also are pursuing the death penalty for Thompson in connection with the fatal shootings of Milton residents Steven Zackowski, 60, and Debra Zackowski, 59. Prosecutors have said Thompson first will be tried in Santa Rosa County for their deaths. No trial dates have been set.