A former Marion County Jail employee is under investigation, accused of placing witnesses to two separate slayings in the same cellblocks as the suspects they were prepared to testify against.
La'Shawana Collins, 21, was fired Wednesday from her $20,461-a-year job as a jail clerk amid allegations she deliberately disregarded court orders and overrode jail safeguards that keep witnesses away from suspects.
"These witnesses were taken to jail with the expectation that they would be safe," Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi said, "and the system put into place to protect them was deliberately overridden."
Collins could be charged with several felonies, Brizzi said, including obstructing justice, official misconduct and conspiracy to intimidate a witness. The Marion County Sheriff's Department and Brizzi's grand jury division were investigating Collins on Wednesday.
Collins could not be reached for comment. She was hired in July 2005.
Her actions scuttled a trial earlier this month, Brizzi said, and nearly derailed a second murder trial this week.
Another jail employee's actions also raise suspicions. Tammy Horton notarized a statement of one of the witnesses recanting his earlier statements implicating one of the murder suspects after he was placed in the same jail cell as the suspect by Collins. Collins' actions clearly violated court orders in each of the cases as well as jail safeguards. As Col. Kerry Forestal said, "One time, that's incompetence." "A second time, a red flag goes up." "There's more than incompetence here."
How is our county's prosecutor expected to keep dangerous criminals off the street when the sheriff's employees are working to free them? We needs some answers Sheriff Anderson.