HOLMES COUNTY Â– A six-member Holmes County jury deliberated for three hours Thursday before delivering a verdict in the case of Jeremie Peters for his role in the July 2020 homicide of Raul Ambriz Guillen.
Peters, who did not take the stand, was found not guilty on the charge of principal to second degree murder. He was found guilty on charges of accessory after the fact and of conspiracy to tamper with a witness. Peters was also previously charged with abuse of a corpse; however, presiding Judge Timothy Register dismissed that charge early in the proceedings.
The court heard from State Medical Examiner Dr. Jay Radke on Thursday, who testified GuillenÂ’s death was the result of massive brain hemorrhaging cause by a 32-caliber bullet. According to investigators, Guillen was shot by William Shane Parker, who is charged in the case with an open count of murder.
Closing arguments saw Assistant State Attorney Brandon Young referring to Defense Attorney Kerry AdkisonÂ’s opening statement.
Â“The defense attorney said at the beginning Â– and if he said it once, he said it 15 times Â– that Shane is a monster,Â” said Young. Â“This was a monsterÂ’s ball; they are all monsters. These arenÂ’t state witnesses. These are the defendant’s family and the people that he hangs out with. They are in his life.Â” Young told the jury these relationships were an important fact to be considered when deliberating.
There were conflicting testimonies as to whether Peters gave the murder weapon to Parker or if someone else did; however, Peters admitted to helping move GuillenÂ’s body after the murder to the burial site on Kirkland Road in northeastern Holmes County.
Court testimony established Peters was not present when the actual murder took place, but the question remained whether he had prior knowledge of a plan to kill Guillen. Ultimately, the jury decided he was not guilty of principle to second-degree murder, which would require prior knowledge the crime will take place.
Peters was charged, along with then-girlfriend Angela Pelham, with conspiracy to tamper with a witness after he was in custody. Phone conversations between the couple conducted on a recorded Walton County Jail line documented Peters asking then-girlfriend Pelham to have sex with a male key witness in the case and then accuse him of rape. The witness led law enforcement to GuillenÂ’s grave after Peters showed him where it was and asked for advice as to whether he should move the body is due to its proximity to his home, a little over a half-mile.
The court listened to the recordings, in which Peters expressed a desire to discredit the witness, telling Pelham, Â“He is their number one [witness]. You have to sell it to the cops. This is critical.Â” Pelham is also charged with conspiracy to tamper with a witness and will face those charges in a future trial.
Adkison used closing arguments to separate his client from evidence that GuillenÂ’s body had been wrapped in a Florida State University blanket, a fact he stated proved nothing about his PetersÂ’ involvement. The prosecution had earlier stressed that Peters was in possession of many FSU-themed items in his home and vehicles.
Â“Are we going to convict a man because of an FSU blanket?Â” asked Adkison. Â“There was no evidence that proved he placed that blanket on the victim.Â”
Adkison pointed instead to the involvement of Lauren Kay Wambles, ParkerÂ’s girlfriend, who is charged with principle to commit second-degree murder.
Â“Wambles is a killer,Â” he said. Â“She may not have pulled the trigger, but she is still a killer.Â”
GuillenÂ’s ex-wife, Markie Ruiz, and daughter, Rosa Ambriz, were somber as the verdict was handed down. When asked about their thoughts on the verdict Ruiz responded, Â“We donÂ’t know what to think; we just donÂ’t know.Â”
Peters, who faces a potential of 15 years for each count, will be sentenced on July 14.
Trial dates have not yet been set for Parker or Wambles.