March 27th, saw CJRJ’s first interview regarding the case of Jermane Scott with local radio station A9Radio, in Springfield, Ohio.
Jermane’s case however, was no stranger to the station. 10-months-prior, Jermane himself had been a guest on the show, during which he gave candid details of his wrongful conviction. Below is his full unedited interview.
For those new to Jermane’s case, CJRJ’s discussion on his wrongful conviction would likely have raised far more questions than answers. Yet like most such convictions, this is often the case. When wildly differing narratives collide, questions are inevitably raised.
CJRJ, along with Jermane welcome all questions. When truth is on ones side, those that hold onto the lies that help falsely imprison a wronged individual, will do their damnedest to either rubbish, or suppress freedom of thought, followed by the freedom to question false narratives that clearly fly in the face of logical thinking.
Before listening to the interview I would suggest the reader digest both Jermane’s version of events leading up to, and shortly after the murder of Bertram Thomas, alongside that of the Springfield Police Department’s (SPD), and subsequently, the state’s version.
Jermane’s telling of events are from his own mouth, and are kindly lifted from the thorough, and duly excellent Justice4Jermane website. The following version of events are a summary written by my good self. Due to this fact, I would advise caution by the reader. I would implore that the best method for gauging both the SPD’s, and state’s version[s] of events, would be to read through the relevant police files and trial transcripts that have been included at the foot of this article.
Over the past 2 years of studying, and consequently writing and advocating for Jermane, I began—as I do in the all cases that I cover—by reading through all documents available to me.
In Jermane’s case, there are sections of trial transcripts and police files missing. Further requests to obtain a complete case file are being undertaken at this time of reading.
Jermane Scott May 2015:
“My story begins on the 3rd December 1996. A man’s life was taken and quite honestly it was a senseless killing. The man died at the hands of a robbery attempt that went horribly wrong. The reason for this robbery I believe was for the victims personal belongings and his car. In 1996 I was a 19-year-old boy and was heavy in the street life. Getting money and clothes was the theme of my life. Chasing money was what I lived for. I was no angel citizen, a punk, a young naive boy who wanted to fit in (with the crowd) I lived amongst. I could sit here and blame my background, my lack of education, my broken family, my neighbourhood, the lack of opportunities boys like me had available to them once we left (thrown out of) school or peer pressure as the reasons why I chose to take that path in life but I can’t. I chose that path and I take full responsibility for my decision.
The first I heard about this man’s murder was when it hit the local newspaper and the only reason it drew my attention was because I recognised his name from the credit card that I had used at the Mall days before. Days previously 2 young men (known to me vaguely in passing) had given me this credit card and we (along with a number of other boys) had gone to the Mall and purchased items using it. ALL of us used that credit card. The 2 young men ended up being the States ‘Star Witnesses’ used against me and my silent cries of innocence in a court of law
On December 9th 1996 the police arrested me for this man’s murder. Call me naive but right at that moment in time I wasn’t too concerned – I was innocent. I knew I hadn’t killed no one (and I never have). I was one of those teenagers who thought I was truly untouchable, besides I had not got a criminal record. I was brought up to believe that if I told the truth, the truth would prevail at all times. I was questioned by the police who asked me if I knew the victim. I told them the truth that I did not know the victim and had never seen him in my life. They called me a liar and told me that they knew I had murdered him for his belongings and money. That was when I knew that I needed help so I asked for a lawyer. I remember clearly that angered them and they blurted out that my ‘friends’ (the 2 young men) were placing all the blame solely on me. By this time I had been interrogated for over 4 hours and I was fed up. I told them ‘charge me or let me go’ (because I knew full well they had NO evidence to charge me with. I was innocent of this crime)……they sent me to jail and charged me with Murder. It’s not like it is on T.V you know. You don’t get 1 phone call. You don’t get the luxury of telling someone (who loves you) where you are. Nobody knew where I was until the next day (when I got to call my Dad) right before I went to court. It was a whirlwind. In a matter of days I went from sitting in my home to being accused of murder to being sent to court. I was 19 years old, uneducated, unknowledgeable of the justice system/the world and the way both work. I was alone and confused with no representation and no understanding of the severity of the situation I had found myself in. All I knew was I WAS INNOCENT and as long as I told the truth I would NOT be going to jail. The truth ALWAYS comes out right? Wrong. I was in the county lock up for 9 months fighting this case. And when I say ‘fighting’ it was a very unfair, unbalanced fight between the heavy weights (police/State prosecutors) and the light weights (some 19-year-old punk, who had no clue of how the Justice system worked. An indigent defendant – me)
My Dad was a working man but we were not rich. He couldn’t afford an attorney for me so I was stuck with a State Attorney Lawyer and needless to say their heart truly wasn’t into trying to defend a ‘street gang’ young punk. Even back then I knew that this wasn’t going to be a fair trial. How could it be when it was the State who was prosecuting me and it was the State who was also defending me?! Even some street punk knows that’s no fair fight from the get go. Those lawyers must have spoken to me 4 or 5 times in that whole 9 ½ months (in lock up). My trial lasted 7 to 10 days. Suffice to say the outcome saw me get Life (without parole) for Aggravated Murder/Forgery and Credit Card Misuse. Throughout my police questioning, throughout my court hearings and trial I maintained I was guilty of using that stolen credit card but I was INNOCENT of murder/burglary and robbery. My case was appealed just once at the very lowest court in the State by yet another State appointed lawyer. I have not spoken nor had my voice heard since the very beginning. Each time I spoke I was called a LIAR. I have been on my own for quite some time now (20 years). Silent. Until now. Now it’s time I break my silence. Its time I came home.”
My Timeline Of Events:
“I have never given my version of events. I wasn’t particularly asked to do so by police, to be honest I don’t believe they were that bothered in anything I had to say. Anything I did say I was called a liar anyway. In hindsight I should have spoken up. In hindsight I should have opened my mouth and not listened to that now quite pathetic code of silence that was drummed into me by the street gang seniors (of the gang that I used to be in). That made it very clear that ‘you dont tell Police nothing’. And ‘if u speak to police your a snitch’ and we all knew what happened to snitches. So all I ever said to the police was ‘hey i admit i used that credit card but i did not kill him, I dont know who killed him and I have no idea who the victim is’. And that was true then and remains true to this day. I did tell police I had an alibi for the day and evening of the 3rd December 1996. I gave them her full name and address but to my knowledge (and now by us having access to the police files) they made absolutely zero effort or attempt in talking to her or taking her statement. She has never been approached by police or even my defence (and I even gave them her contact details and told them that she could give me an alibi). She wanted to give a statement, she wanted to testify in court but was refused and seen as irrelevant.
Before we start please don’t judge me for owning a gun. Everyone in my neighborhood did back then. Heck maybe even now they all still do. I have no idea as I have no contact/ limited communication with anyone from Springfield OH and haven’t for 22years now. We all owned a gun back then not just in my circle of street gang friends but also adults in the community did to. Ive since learned even the victim himself owned a gun. It was common place and all I can say is I carried a gun for protection but I had never used it nor drawn it on anyone. I feel stupid to look back now at those times. I hate guns now. I want to live somewhere that guns are not common place (when I eventually get out of here).
I am sorry I can’t give you specific times but I guess you know this was all 20 years ago. As far as I am aware NO ONE has ever tried to put a timeline together which included my take on this/my statement into consideration. The only timeline the Police looked at was the timeline Mike Enis and Terry Portman gave them and never not once did anyone ask for my side of events or my timeline.
Mike/Terry (and I think Hasheem Stevens) were standing on the corner of Rose St/Clay St as I walked towards them. Mike and Terry both asked to borrow my gun. This was a couple of days before the 3rd Dec 96. Prior to this they had previously asked to borrow my gun but I was in a rush when they had asked me before so I told them I didn’t have time to talk to them. It must have been a couple of days before I gave them my gun that they asked me that first time.
I went to Bridgette Johnsons house early morning 3rd Dec. It was early because it was even before she took her kids to school. We smoked some weed for about 15-30mins. I then went home and chilled out round the house. In the early afternoon my friend named Deena picked me up and we drove around in her car smoking weed/she was selling pills till mid-afternoon. She dropped me at home. It must have been about 3pm because my Dad was home from work when I got there. Then I went out to run the streets and I saw Terry and Mike on the corner of the road again. They told me Hasheem was at Bridgettes house (the Aunt) so I went with them to Bridgettes house. It was getting dark at this time so it must have been about late afternoon maybe 4pm. My pager went off and I left Bridgettes house before Mike and Terry. They were both still there with Hasheem and Bridgette when I left. I went home and got a call from Heather (my friend). She was with some dude who sold weed but he was also a Pizza Delivery guy but I just cant remember his name. He picked me up and we went to Heathers (Elm Street) and must have got there around 5pm or just after (it was very dark by this time). Stayed there for a while but then the Pizza man friend said he had to leave so I decided to leave too at the same time so he could drive me home. It must have been sometime between 7pm to 8pm. I didn’t want to go home so I went round to Keith’s house (Keith Donoghue) and smoked a joint with him (he lived 4 houses down from mine). Then I left Keith’s and went to Bridgette’s house. I must have got there between 8-9pm. I don’t know the exact time but I know it must have been late as her kids were in bed by the time I got there. Mike and Terry were not there when I arrived. I was there about 10 minutes when Bridgette got a call. She took the call then told me and Hasheem ‘They just called and they are on their way’. Then another 20 or 30 minutes after that Mike and Terry arrived at their Aunt Bridgettes house.
I stayed for 10 minutes after that then left because I had the munchies. Mike and Terry followed me out and Holla’d me. When I went out the door they followed me closing the door behind them. I noticed a gun case was outside leaning against the porch/stairs kind of wrapped in a pillow case. They asked me to take it home with me. I asked them where my gun was and they said they lost it. I asked how they were going to pay for that. They said ‘we just hit a lick’ and they gave me the c/c and said I could sell the gun and split the money and use the c/c with them if I took them to the Mall. So I got home about 10pm-11pm it was definitely well before midnight as my step mum was still up. I went back to Bridgettes house after eating something and talking to my Step Mum. I went back and let myself in (the door was unlocked – it always was – Bridgettes house was the local ‘smoke house’) but I was literally there one minute because no one was around. I could sense Hasheem and Bridgette were in Bridgettes bedroom as I could hear the TV on. There was no sign of Mike and Terry and no noise apart from Hasheem and Bridgettes room so I left and went home and went to bed. I got up early as I knew I wouldn’t have long to use the credit card before the owner of the card realised it was missing and had rang the bank to cancel the card so I left for the Mall really early about 8-8.30am after calling for Keith/Mike and Terry. Terry didn’t come with us on that first trip to the Mall. I called for Keith and explained to him that Mike and Terry had given me the use of this c/card and if he drove us to the Mall I would fill up his tank full of gas and give him a joint and use of the credit card. He agreed and drove me and Mike there (and we ALL used that credit card). That was on the 4th Dec. We came back and Keith went home. Me and Mike went back to Bridgettes to show her, Hasheem and Terry what we had got. Bridgette asked if we could go back to the Mall for her and buy her kids Christmas presents on the c/card. She told me I could use her car to take Mike and Terry to the Mall and get her kids all their Christmas presents. Me, Mike and Terry (and I think maybe Hasheem too) went in Bridgettes car to the Mall a second time. We got back and I left Mike, Hasheem and Terry at Bridgettes house and went home. My friend Willian Cobb and I went to Bellefontaine on the Friday (6th) with two other girls to party. We got back from Bellefontaine to Springfield very late Saturday night/very early hours of Sunday. It was after I came back from Bellefontaine I saw the newspaper stating a Mr Thomas had been found murdered in his home. I recognised the name but couldn’t place it straight away (that must have been Monday when I read that paper).
I was arrested later on Monday 9th Dec.”
The SPD’s/State’s Narrative:
As mentioned previously, the best way to assess the SPD’s and state’s version of events would be to closely look over the relevant police files and trial transcripts. Specifically for the state, the most pertinent section of transcript would be their opening statement at Jermane’s trial.
Frustratingly, on previous FOIA requests, opening statements were denied, due to what was cited to us as their being held in Judge’s Chambers. We are presently in the process of appealing this supposed fact as in our eyes this is a clear nonsense: Opening Statements were presented before the jury, and are duly part of the public record.
While such statements offer a narrative for the state by which to attempt to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the guilt of the accused, they are not necessarily; and more importantly, do not need to be verbatim. During trial, the state should aim to affirm what has been laid out during their opening salvo, yet it is one of the roles of the defense to raise objection during the state’s questioning of their witnesses, and in turn the witnesses’ testimony, that the state aims to have their narrative verified by—with the judge being diligent to preside over a fair trial.
The state offered that Jermane Scott was in need of money to predominantly facilitate his need to buy drugs to feed his addiction. Scott had apparently made it clear to both Mike Enis, and Terry Portman, that he wished to, ‘hit a lick,’ meaning get hold of some money quick.
Such an opportunity arose when he was invited by both Enis and Portman, to come along as they visited a friend. The friend in question being Bertram Thomas. According to the state, Scott recognized Thomas as being one of his old high school teachers—South High, in Springfield Ohio. Due to this fact, Scott murdered Thomas for fear of being recognized by the victim, before robbing Thomas of his credit card, 2 checks, car keys, car, and money. Both Enis and Portman were witness to this murder from an adjoining room to the basement in which the shooting occurred.
The following day of Thomas’ murder, Scott duly used the credit card at a local mall, and attempted to cash—1 successfully—2 forged checks. Shortly after, Scott went to Bellfontaine to dispose of the murder weapon.
During the time of Thomas’ murder—estimated to be during the evening of Dec. 3rd, and morning of Dec. 4th—and his subsequent arrest on the 9th, Scott allegedly boasted— backed up by their trial testimony—murdering Thomas to Bridget Johnson, (Portman’s Aunt) Anthony Eldrige, (14-year-old living at Scott’s residence) and Hasheem Stevens (Scott’s friend—Johnson’s boyfriend). After Scott’s arrest, he also allegedly admitted to the murder of Thomas to Keith Donahue (friend of Scott’s).
Jermane Scott was sentenced to 4 years for fraudulent use of a credit card and 2 checks. He was sentenced to life without parole for the murder of Bertram Thomas, and narrowly avoided the death penalty.
CJRJ’s interview with A9Radio is linked below.
Trial Transcripts and Police files May be found via the link below:
Further articles relating to Jermane’s case can be found throughout this site.
If you have any questions, or indeed details regarding the wrongful conviction of Jermane Scott, please contact me here.