A former candidate for Lee County Supervisor of Elections has been sentenced to 36 months state probation for tampering with evidence related to a fatal hit-and-run crash.
James Sinclair, before Lee County Circuit Court Judge J. Frank Porter, said he would enter a guilty plea on evidence tampering and obstruction. He will serve 30 days in jail on weekends starting April 19, along with 36 months of probation immediately.
A friend of Sinclair, Adam Costello, has pleaded guilty to a fatal hit-and-run crash of Adam King and is serving a 10-and-a-half-year prison sentence.
Part of Sinclair’s guilty plea was stating before the court that he destroyed video evidence from his home surveillance system.
During the hearing, Judge Porter asked Sinclair if he was pleading guilty because he was culpable in the crime.
“Best interest your honor,” Sinclair responds.
“I’m not doing this,” said Judge Porter in a raised voice. “You either are pleading guilty or you’re pleading not guilty. I have a jury coming tomorrow and we’ll go to trial. I don’t want to play any games right now! You’re playing games right now.
“Keep giving me this best interest crap!” Judge Porter yelled. “It’s either guilty, not guilty or no contest – pick one!”
Sinclair, 50, pled guilty. When the judge asked Sinclair to reply what he did that was guilty, his answer was not sufficient. The judge announced that there was no plea deal.
“See you tomorrow at trial,” Judge Porter said.
After a brief break, Sinclair and his legal counsel returned to the circuit courtroom. He told the judge that he tampered with evidence by giving his DVR surveillance equipment to Costello.
Sinclair would request to serve his sentence in Bay County if the Bay County Sheriff’s Office allows it.
King’s mother was in the courtroom. She has gone to every court date and meeting since the arrest in this case. Now she said she can finally start to move on.
“I’m happy with the outcome,” said Tracy Miller, the victim’s mother. “Thank god for this lady right here and all her hard work and investigation and the outcome was very good today.”
The prosecutor, who Miller is appreciative of, said the decision would hold the former candidate for Lee County Supervisor of Elections accountable for his actions.
“Sends a message to people that if they know evidence about leaving the scene of the crash where these cases are so very difficult to prosecute,” said Mara Marzano, the prosecutor, “that they need to come forward and they need to cooperate.”