St Johns County Deputy Sheriff Scott James O’Connell, the brother of homicide victim Michelle O’Connell, was arrested and charged with domestic violence battery yesterday, a first-degree misdemeanor.
The 33-year-old deputy was terminated after an outburst and threats to “blow up” the sheriff’s office when he learned that the state attorney would not prosecute Deputy Jeremy Banks for his sister’s death in 2010.
Sheriff David Shoar re-instated O’Connell, and returned him to duty, after O’Connell publicly proclaimed that he was wrong to express his emotions in that way, and that he now believes that Banks did not kill his sister.
Deputies responded to a call at O’Connell’s residence on Wednesday, July 5th, reporting that the female victim, said to be O’Connell’s wife, suffered a close-fisted strike to the face while the couple was sitting on the bed watching a movie.
According to the arrest affidavit, O’Connell was having marital difficulties. The victim told investigators that since 2011, O’Connell would be loving towards her one day and mentally or verbally abusive to her the next. The couple live together in the house with two young children who were reported to be at home at the time of the incident.
Deputy Kendall Lloyd, the first officer on the scene, photographed the victim’s injuries that included a red mark above her right eyebrow and redness to her cheek. Her right cheek, underneath her eye, appeared slightly “puffy”, Lloyd wrote. Corporal Jennifer Burres also observed redness above the victim’s right eye and redness, with possible swelling, under her right eye in her cheek area.
When O’Connell came to the Sheriff’s Office yesterday, Corporal Dominick Russo interviewed him. O’Connell admits the acrimonious nature of his marriage, but told Russo that he never laid hands on his wife. He said that during a verbal argument with the victim, he took his wedding ring off and put it inside the dresser. When she noticed the ring missing from his hand, O’Connell says she began crying loudly in front of the children, so he told the children to go with him into the bedroom. The victim followed them into the bedroom, O’Connell says, continuing to ask about the wedding ring. O’Connell admits he provoked the victim further with comments about their relationship. O’Connell told Russo that upset her again and caused her to say, “I’ll show you then!” At that time, O’Connell says she left the bedroom and contacted the sheriff’s office.
Despite denying that he struck the victim, Corporal Russo arrested Deputy O’Connell at the sheriff’s office and escorted him to the St Johns County Detention Facility without incident.
During a first appearance hearing this morning, Judge Charles Tinlin allowed bail. O’Connell was released from custody after posting a $500 appearance bond and signing a pre-trial release order stipulating that he has no contact with the victim.