Teen spends 35 days in jail after mistaken arrest

GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. -- Three northeast Florida sheriff's deputies have been disciplined after an arrest mix-up sent the wrong teenager to jail.

The 17-year-old spent 35 days in the Clay County jail after being charged as an adult in a sexual battery case. One deputy also faces a suspension and a transfer.

The Florida Times-Union reports that in a disciplinary letter, Sheriff Rick Beseler wrote that because of that deputy's incompetence, "an innocent man was arrested for an offense that he did not commit."

The mistake wasn't discovered until the teen received court documents detailing the charges against him.

Authorities say investigators failed to confirm their suspect's identity with a photo lineup.

They actually had been seeking another student at the same high school with the same name.

When reached at his home in Green Cove Springs, Cody Lee Williams, the wrongly arrested teen, declined an on camera interview.

He said the time in jail "gave me a lot of time to think about my life." Williams said he is now in college and has a part time job.

The wrongfully arrested teen also said a photo spread early in the investigation is something the officers should done.

"The whole thing was a bad experience," said Williams, who has retained an attorney.

First Coast News' Roger Weeder contributed to this report


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