Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Juror Who Freed Kent Hovind Steps Forward

This post was originally published on Forbes Jun 9, 2015

Embattled Young Earth Creationist, Kent Hovind, Doctor Dino, has said that he is going to throw a big barbecue when he is released from prison.  As it stands now that will be August 9th at the latest.  If I was planning the party I could think of several candidates for guest of honor.  Ernie Land, Kent's long term friend and consigliere, who coordinated the legal defense team comes to mind as does Rudy Davis, whose LoneStar1776 has been pretty much all Doc Dino all the time for the last several months.  Dee Holmes makes a strong case for Rudy Davis.

There is a sleeper candidate. That would be Don Camacho.  Don Camacho was the foreman of the jury in Kent Hovind's trial in March.  He held out against eleven others who wanted to convict Kent and his codefendant Paul Hansen on all charges.  The single count against Kent Hovind that Camacho agreed to as a compromise was thrown out by Judge Rodgers.  The saying goes that success has a thousand fathers and of course Kent Hovind's supporters give all the glory to God, but when it comes to freeing Kent Hovind, if there was one guy in the right place at the right time to do what the Hovinidcators would see as the right thing, it was Don Camacho.

The Trials Of Kent Hovind

Nearing the end of a long prison term, primarily for structuring, the crime Dennis Hastert stands accused of, Kent Hovind faced trial in March for contempt of court, mail fraud and conspiracy.  The charges related to actions that he had taken to affect the title to real estate seized as a result of his 2006 structuring conviction.

The Call For Jury Nullification

The new prosecution sparked a vigorous social media campaign to "Free Kent Hovind".  One of the themes of the movement was "juror nullification".  The idea was that one juror with the courage of his convictions could stop the government juggernaut that was bearing down on their pastor.

The trial in March produced mixed results for Kent Hovind.  He was convicted of contempt for violating one of two court orders. The jury did not reach a verdict on the more serious fraud and conspiracy charges.  On the eve of his retrial in May the government moved to dismiss the remaining counts without prejudice.  Judge Margaret Casey Rodgers allowed the government's motion and to the surprise of many and the delight of the Hovindicators dismissed Hovind's contempt conviction.

Preparing For The Second Trial

There were rumors that the hung jury in March had been the result of a single hold-out.  It was pretty clear that Kent Hovind's consigliere, Ernie Land had information on what had happened in the deliberations which he used in his advice to people planning to demonstrate at the May trial, that never happened.

Beginning around 5:30 Ernie referring to inside information from a juror exercising his first amendment right with "no enticement" encouraged a message that would emphasize absence of greed on the part of the Kent Hovind and that all the filings Kent Hovind made were done in plain sight.

I asked Ernie if he could provide any further information about what happened inside the jury room. He wrote to me
I have slept on this and I will wait on the juror to speak should he choose to do so. I will say I recognized him in the first pool of 50 potential jurors. He however, never connected the name to me as the person because I had moved out of that area 15 years ago. So there could never have been any intent by either party, but as it is in Kent’s case “intent” and “Justice” has zero value in this Governments Courts. I have said words like “evil”, “corrupt”, and the like about both the Judge and the Prosecutor, I stand by those statements, as well as my statement they touched one of God’s elite and are paying the price with the wrath of God being brought down on them all by this black mold health issue. Sadly, to say many feel innocent in the matters or they were just doing their job, but now they too will reap from the fact they “could have done good, but choose not to” maybe to keep their job, but it stands we must live life in a way we live for good and take a stand when we see evil.
Some Investigative Work

One of my common laments is that I'm just a tax blogger not an investigative  reporter.  My friend, Jonathan Schwartz, whom I have been supporting in his coverage of the Kent Hovind trial is a different story.  He has produced some hard-hitting investigative  pieces over the years and has done two documentaries on prisons - Faith In the Big House on prison ministries and Turned Out on the sexual abuse of prisoners.

Jonathan covered the first trial and was prepared to cover the second with both local assistance that he had cultivated during the first trial and the help of Dee Holmes who has developed an interest in the case and has been blogging about it.  He was surprised as any of us at the turn of events that canceled the trial, but he used the time freed up well.  Thanks to Jonathan and his team we have interviews with the holdout juror, who it is reasonable to say is the man, more than any other man, that freed Kent Hovind, a juror, who thought Hovind and his co-defendant were largely guilty, as did the all the other jurors by his account and another man who connects the holdout to Kent Hovind.

Three Remarkably Similar Guys

Don Camacho, Don Zehr and Dr. Ward Dean are all retired military men.  They all believe that they took an oath to defend the Consitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. (For clarity and brevity I will refer to the two Dons by their last names) They are comfortable in evangelical religious circles.  Camacho is a deacon at Olive Baptist Church.  Zehr has several clergy relatives and Dr. Dean attended meetings that used Crossroads Baptist Church as a venue.  All three are strong advocates for a citizen's right to bear arms.

Camacho served in the Navy for 24 years working on jets and helicopters.  He retired as a lieutenant, which sounds unimpressive if you know the typical career path of a naval officer, but Camacho was not a typical naval officer.  He was a mustang.  He enlisted in the Navy at the age of 17 in 1961 and advanced through eight enlisted ranks, three chief warrant officer ranks and three commissioned officer ranks.  That's impressive.  He works in human resources now.

Zehr, at 56, is the youngster of the group.  He retired from the Air Force as a master sergeant and currently works as a civilian contractor at Eglin Air Forces Base.
Dr. Dean is a graduate of West Point (Class of 1967).  He served six years as an infantry officer and then left the service to attend medical school.  He served as an Army doctor then moved to the Navy where he became a Flight Surgeon, retiring as a Commander.  He currently practices medicine with a focus on anti-aging.  Like Kent Hovind will soon be, he is on supervised release having served a long prison sentence for tax evasion.  Like Kent Hovind, he does not believe that he has broken any laws.

Don Camacho As The Holdout

In his interview with Jonathan, Camacho while indicating his generally sympathetic view of Kent Hovind was shy about sharing any details of the jury deliberations.  Zehr had no such hesitation indicating that at the outset eleven jurors thought the defendants guilty and Camacho thought otherwise.

I was really impressed with the way that Don Camacho was able to boil down the weakness of the government's case against Hovind into thirty seconds.  Essentially everything that Hovind did was done in the open in an attempt to recover what he believed was his property.

Paul Hansen's attorney, Chris Klotz explained it in a little more detail.

 The Militia
Jonathan could not help but be fascinated by Camacho's participation in the Escambia County Militia.  As Camacho relates it interest in the militia started with Ruby Ridge and Waco. There was a general discontent with the federal government interfering in states rights.  One concern was that the Florida National Guard had been sent on overseas assignment.  The main emphasis of the militia was on preparedness and the Constitution, particularly the Second Amendment.  For some this could lead to what is commonly referred to as tax protest, but not Camacho who has always paid his taxes

Camacho did tell about a militia friend of his, whom he greatly admired, who ended up going to prison for tax evasion.

The friend was Doctor Ward Dean.

Blame It On Irwin Schiff

In his CSE 103 Class 6 Topic''Income tax'' Kent Hovind indicated that he had not filed an income tax return in 28 years and thought there was no law that required him to.  Kent gives a qualified endorsement to the work of Irwin Schiff.  Doctor Dean, on the other hand, was utterly convinced by Schiff's arguments.

He still believes that Schiff was correct.

Dean and Hovind bonded over their IRS troubles in the early years of the millennium.

I have to say that I have studied Schiff's arguments myself and find them incredibly unpersuasive, as does the entire federal judiciary.
Jonathan was really pleased to be the one who told Dr. Dean that the contempt charge was dropped against Kent Hovind.

Doctor Dean believes that Don Camacho is an American hero for his stand in the jury room.

Doctor Dean agrees with Jonathan that if the government had been aware of Camacho's views, he would have never been on the jury.

The Role of the Hovindicators
It is clear that Hovind's supporters played an important role in supporting the morale of Kent Hovind during a trying time.  They also cobbled together the support for the legal work that derailed the second trial and resulted in the dismissal of the contempt charge. By Don Zehr's account, though, the effect of their Pensacola street presence was counterproductive.

Don Camacho does not really disagree.  The different approach he suggests is probably the source of the advice that Ernie Land gave to supporters planning on being there for the second trial.

Attorney Chis Klotz thinks that the jury was well insulated and that once the trial commences there are only twelve people whose opinion matters.

Joshua Joscelyn, who was one of the few Pensacola people on the street supporting Kent Hovind, on other hand thinks that the one juror who held out, who spoke to Eric Hovind was influenced by the jury nullification argument.

In his interview with Jonathan, Camacho indicated that he had spoken with a "Christian friend", who remained unidentified.

There Is More 

Jonathan is the journalist and I'm the tax blogger which sometimes has us bickering a bit about when enough is enough. One of my take-aways from all the material that Jonathan has provided is that Kent Hovind was clearly his own man, subject only to God.  His penchant for conspiracy theories has him touched by many movements, but he is not really a part of any of them.  So the whole story of what happened with Kent Hovind in Pensacola prior to his imprisonment will probably never be told, much as Jonathan would like to uncover it.

This post only has a few brief clips, but the entirety of all the interviews will be on my youtube channel and a post that curates the videos will follow this one.

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