Jurors hear from ex-mistress as former sheriff Darryl Daniels’ trial opens

By Don Coble don@claytodayonline.com
Posted 9/14/22

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Former Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels showed no emotion when his former ex-lover Cierra Smith told the jury about her affair and subsequent arrest for stalking during the …

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Jurors hear from ex-mistress as former sheriff Darryl Daniels’ trial opens

Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Former Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels showed no emotion when his former ex-lover Cierra Smith told the jury about her affair and subsequent arrest for stalking during the first day of a long-awaited trial.

Daniels faces charges of destroying evidence, attempting to destroy evidence and five counts of giving false information to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement of an alleged crime.

A jury of six and two alternates was chosen from a pool of 200 on Monday, Sept. 12. The trial started a day later.

Daniels admitted to having an extramarital affair with a co-worker when he worked at the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. The two were involved for years, and Smith said Daniels gave her money, paid for her trips, bought her jewelry and paid for her breast augmentation surgery.

He set up a meeting with Smith in a parking lot after he told his wife of the affair. When Smith arrived, Daniels demanded Smith be arrested for stalking him.

Smith said she was surprised when she was blocked in an Oakleaf parking lot on May 6, 2020, after the two agreed to meet to exchange some CDs.

“I saw him hold up his radio in the window,” Smith said. “At that time, I freaked out. I got scared because I didn’t know what was going on. I have a truck that’s following me. I’m blocked and I can’t get out.”

Sgt. Christopher Ruby was behind Smith’s car and Daniels’ wife, Denise, blocked her from the front.

Daniels originally wanted Smith to be booked in Jacksonville because he feared “it wouldn’t look good” to have her in the Clay County Jail, according to retired JSO Sheriff Mike Williams.

Although Smith was taken to the Clay County Jail, she wasn’t booked and the arresting officer quickly drove her home.

Sgt. Christopher Ruby was one of the arresting officers. He told the court Daniels told him “to charge her with everything you can.” Ruby backed up Williams’ statements that Daniels didn’t want Smith at the Clay County Jail.

Daniels then set out to destroy evidence of the affair, according to FDLE. He was arrested on Aug. 14, 2020 – just four days before his primary against five other candidates for sheriff. Joseph Prato, a technician in the FDLE’s cyber crimes division said he didn’t find any messages on Daniels’ phone.

When the Florida Department of Law Enforcement launched an investigation, Daniels was accused of taking his cellphone to his agency and asking information technology agents to destroy any connections he had with Smith, FDLE said.

The case is being prosecuted by the State Attorney’s Office from Ocala with Judge R. Lee Smith of St. Augustine presiding.

Daniels was offered a deal before the primary the state would drop all charges if he’d drop out of the election, forfeit his law enforcement credentials and not run again. He declined.

Four days later, Michelle Cook won the election.

Daniels contended the charges and timing of his arrest was designed to keep him from winning re-election.

Gov. Ron DeSantis quickly suspended Daniels from completing his term and he appointed Cook to take control a month ahead of her inauguration.

If convicted, Daniels could face a maximum sentence of 15 years.

The trial at the Clay County Courthouse is expected to conclude next week.

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