HOLIDAY — Three months before his cases were set for trial, detectives say, James Barron needed to clean house. He'd seen the evidence against him in two murder charges, including names of the witnesses who would testify against him. Reports say he penned a letter from his jail cell to destroy the evidence. In this case, a person.
Barron sent the letter to his mother, Michelle Lee Miller, but not before it was intercepted by detectives. An expert at the Sheriff's Office sifted through the gang slang to interpret a request. The witness had worn a wire to record talks with Barron to build the state's case against him. Barron, reports state, wanted the witness "peter-rolled." Murdered. It indicated, too, that there would be a reward.
"Every piece of evidence in a homicide is important," said Detective Bill Lindsey of the Pasco Sheriff's Office. "Every witness is equally important. So the fact that somebody would reach out and try to harm him, it would absolutely be harmful to the case."
Detectives passed the letter on, intentionally.
At 1037 Solar Drive, reports state, Miller read the letter and searched to find the prison where the intended recipient was serving a sentence. Inmates aren't allowed to write to other inmates, even at other jails or prisons. Detectives say she was the middleman.
She repackaged the letter and sent it to Sumter Correctional Institution. Lindsey did not give the name of "the person who they were requesting to commit the murder," but did indicate that the person holds clout with members of the Bloods gang.
The Sumter prisoner wrote back to Barron, again through his mother, detectives said. According to Lindsey, the letter indicated that the Bloods would kill the witness "as soon as possible."
By the time the letter reached Miller's home, detectives had a search warrant. Lindsey said investigators took the response letter. The fact that Miller had sent the letter as she was instructed indicated she read it, Lindsey said. She was arrested on a charge of solicitation to commit murder. She remained in the Land O'Lakes jail Thursday on $300,000 bail.
On Wednesday night, deputies also arrested Daniel David Feliciano, 32, on charges of tampering with another witness while they were both in the Land O'Lakes jail. According to reports, he told the witness that gang members had a list of addresses for the witness' family members. If the witness testified against Barron, Feliciano reportedly told the witness, they would be killed.
The witness wrote a letter to the State Attorney's Office, requesting to be removed from the case. Detectives intercepted that letter, interviewed the witness and arrested Feliciano, who is also a Bloods gang member, the report states.
The witness is now in protective custody.
"Two cases, two separate witnesses, their lives were threatened because of their testimony," Lindsey said. "He's trying to stop these people from testifying against him, which would, of course, damage the homicide trial."
A slew of charges has kept Barron in and out of jail over the past three years.
He was arrested in 2012 after, detectives said, he confessed to killing Cedric Saunders on Dec. 9, 2011, and then covered up evidence.
About a week after the killing, Barron was arrested on multiple cocaine-related charges. While in custody, deputies secured a search warrant for Barron's home and found blood-spattered keys that matched the Kia Rio in which Saunders' body was found.
While he was in jail, deputies charged him with a second murder.
On Aug. 21, Barron had suspected Kamar Allen of stealing money from his mother and confronted him. The two later left the house on foot. Barron told Allen they were "going to go find some women," the other inmate said in the report.
In an open field between Anclote Boulevard and Blossom Lake Drive in Holiday, investigators say, Barron shot Allen and went home. Allen's body was found in a nearby ditch, four blocks from Barron's home, with a .40-caliber bullet in his head.
Both cases are set for trial in January. Barron could face life in prison and the death penalty.
Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Contact Alex Orlando at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6247.