Historic City News reporters listened to emotional testimony before Judge Charles Tinlin this morning during a bond hearing in the violation of probation case of former St Johns County Sheriff’s Correction Unit Commander, Roger “Wayne” Colee.
Colee, whose parents sat quietly in the back row, stared forward in silence for nearly the entire 45-minute hearing this morning; his attorney, Andrew Morgan, doing all the talking for him.
According to Morgan, his client, because of his 22-years’ service in law enforcement, fact that he has lived in St Johns County all his life, his lack of prior criminal background, and willingness to wear a GPS tracking device and live with his parents under “house arrest”, if necessary, is not a flight risk and therefore a good candidate for bond until his upcoming violation of probation trial.
Assistant State Attorney Kelsey Bledsoe told the court that those were all good considerations for bond — if it were not for the fact that when Colee was offered probation in the first place, while still under court order, he continued prohibited contact with his victim in person and through social media websites on the Internet.
Colee’s legal woes go back to June of last year when he was served a temporary injunction ordering him to stay away from the victim — during the ensuing months and additional hearings, the temporary injunction was made permanent by Judge John Alexander on January 18, 2012.
On August 4, 2011, Colee was arrested for aggravated stalking after injunction, a third-degree felony. As part of a plea agreement, Circuit Judge Wendy Berger transferred the case to County Court at pretrial on December 5, 2011 leaving Colee to face two first-degree misdemeanor charges — one count of stalking and one count of violation of injunction against dating violence.
January 6, 2012, Judge Tinlin imposed sentence of one-year supervised probation on each of the two misdemeanor charges, to run consecutively; but Tinlin withheld adjudication of guilt. As additional conditions of Colee’s probation, he was required to continue counseling with Dr Vanessa Townsend, have no victim contact, and no contact with the victim’s family — including by or through social networking sites.
Then, on March 7th, less than two months after being released, Colee was arrested again; this time charged with a first-degree felony, violation of an injunction against repeat violence, as well as a third-degree felony, aggravated stalking after injunction.
The 50 year-old Colee was suspended, without pay from his $66,752 per year job with the Sheriff’s Office, at the time of his arrest, August 4, 2011. He was released the same day after posting a $10,000 appearance bond. The Internal Affairs Department began an investigation into the matter and recommended that Colee be terminated. He separated from the department in September, 2011.
The court heard from SJSO Sergeant William Werle who explained how, after being placed under permanent injunction and placed on supervised probation, Colee continued to stalk the female victim. Using subpoenas served on facebook and later on Comcast, detectives were able to prove that fake identities had been set up and were being used to communicate with the victim, covertly, using their services from a computer in Colee’s home.
Colee’s probation officer, Supervisor Darlene Schnittker, told the court that, it was her recommendation that Colee not be granted bond and that the probation office, even with a GPS tracking device, was not adequate protection for the victim and her family. In Schnittker’s view, Colee has demonstrated that he is obsessed with the victim and prior probationary efforts have failed.
By far the most compelling and emotional testimony came from the victim. She told Historic City News that she did date Colee for about a year prior to these incidents. She stated that after Colee began to show very jealous, obsessive and controlling behavior, she broke off their relationship in January 2011.
“He violated every private area of my life by hacking into my personal e-mail account, stealing account passwords, hacking into my 15-year-old sons’ facebook account, and setting up several phony facebook profiles by stealing the identities of people we went to school with – all for the purpose of conversing with and stalking me,” the victim testified before the court today. “He friended over 40 mutual friends using these phony profiles in an effort to make them look legitimate. You can’t imagine how sickened I was to discover that the woman that had been commenting on my pictures and chatting with me over the course of 5 weeks was really Mr. Colee.”
In a statement the victim filed with the clerk in open court this morning, she described frightening encounters with Colee after the breakup; including his driving by her house, following her when taking her kids to school, on her way to and from work, while they were at church and showing up at her children’s sporting events.
“He even test drove a car one day so he could show up at my house in an unrecognizable vehicle to interrogate my 13-year-old son who was home alone after school,” the victim said. “I came home from work that day to find my son crouched in the floor and shaking in fear.”
Judge Tinlin expressed his sympathy to Colee’s parents and the parents of the victim, all of whom were in the courtroom. However, he wasted no time with his ruling — denying bail.
Felony pretrial has been set for the new charge on July 3, 2012 at 1:30 p.m. in Courtroom 264 before Judge Wendy Berger.