JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Ex-Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels has been found not guilty on all counts after being tried this week for alleged evidence tampering and lying to law enforcement.
The trial comes after he allegedly had the woman he was in a long-time affair with arrested for stalking him in 2019.
The jury deliberated for roughly two hours and 20 minutes before reaching a verdict. He was found not guilty on all seven counts against him.
The two started having an affair when the then 48-year-old Daniels was the director of the Duval County Jail, and Cierra Smith was his 21-year-old subordinate, employed as a corrections officer.
The judge gave the jury instructions for deliberation around 4 p.m. The jury went to select a foreperson at 4:07 p.m.
Earlier in the day, Daniels chose not to testify in his own defense. The defense called no witnesses; the state called more than a dozen over three days.
Thursday's witness testimony started with Sgt. Con Kelley who processed background checks for the Clay County Sheriff's Office when Daniels was the sheriff. Kelley testified someone has to be a law enforcement officer and have a legal reason to run a background check.
Kelley testified that in 2018 Daniels requested background checks for multiple people. Those people were Larry Smith, the ex-husband of the woman Daniels was having an affair with, and Smith's current girlfriend, Armeshia Johnson. First Coast News did an exclusive interview with Johnson in 2020 after she received texts from Daniels that ended up in a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation.
Daniels is charged with making false reports to law enforcement, one count related to him stating he never requested background checks for his personal use.
On Wednesday, prosecutors played Daniels' Oct. 2019 voluntary two hour interview with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for jurors.
Daniels told FDLE in that interview that his relationship with Smith was a "frustrating cycle of volatility" with ups and downs. In the recording he said they'd end things and then get back together like nothing happened.
The recording was played as part of the lead investigator, Inspector Keith Riddick's, nearly six hours of testimony. Riddick said financial records show Daniels sent Smith about $37,000 through CashApp over the years and purchased things for her.