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Jacob Cash

Other Florida Murder Exonerations
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On October 28, 1997, 23-year-old Jacob Cash picked up a hitchhiker in the Ybor City neighborhood of Tampa, Florida.

Cash later told police that the hitchhiker, 40-year-old Willie McCloud, then attempted to carjack him. Cash fired a gun at him to defend himself as he climbed out the driver’s side window.

McCloud died of several gunshot wounds to the chest. Police didn’t believe Cash’s account, and on the following day they arrested him on a charge of second-degree murder.

Cash went to trial in Hillsborough County Circuit in October 1998. A detective testified that spent cartridges were found on the street rather than in the car. Thus, Cash was outside the car, not inside, when he fired the shots. The prosecution contended that the shooting was a drug deal that went bad. The prosecution’s theory was that Cash, who was from Spartanburg, South Carolina, had stolen the car in Spartanburg and intended to sell the car to a Florida chop shop to raise money to buy drugs.

Terry Moss, owner of Moss Automotive, a car dealership in Spartanburg, South Carolina, testified that the car Cash was driving had been stolen from his dealership.

Jeremy Field testified for the prosecution that he worked for Moss Automotive and that Cash had stolen the car from the dealership. Fields testified that Cash first asked him to provide him with a vehicle, but that Fields had refused the request. Fields also testified that Cash asked him to let him test drive a vehicle from the dealership so Cash could make a key, but Fields had refused that request as well.

Cash testified and repeated the same story he told detectives – that after he picked up McCloud, who was hitchhiking, McCloud attempted to carjack him and he shot McCloud in self-defense.

On October 21, 1998, the jury convicted Cash of second-degree murder. He was sentenced to 50 years in prison.

Cash filed a motion for a new trial and presented a sworn affidavit from Moss, the owner of Moss Automotive. Moss said that before Cash’s trial, he told the prosecution that Jeremy Fields admitted to giving Cash the keys to the vehicle and that Fields, not Cash, stole the vehicle.

Moss also stated that the prosecutor told him not to mention that Fields gave the vehicle to Cash when he testified. The motion for a new trial was denied.

Cash challenged his conviction and sentence. The Florida Appellate Court, while finding no merit in Cash’s claims regarding his conviction, found that his sentence improperly exceeded the guidelines for second-degree murder. Because the sentence exceeded the guidelines, but was not a life sentence, the trial court was required to give written reasons justifying the departure. The trial court had failed to provide written reasons, so Cash’s sentence was reversed and the case was remanded for resentencing.

Before the resentencing, however, the appeals court ordered an evidentiary hearing on the issue of Fields’ false testimony. The appeals court had noted, “While Fields’ testimony may not have helped the state establish the elements of the crime, it certainly gave the jury the impression that Cash was a vehicle thief and a liar. Cash’s credibility was central to his defense that he committed the shooting in the course of defending himself from a carjacking.” Subsequently, Cash was granted new trial.

In June 2008, Cash went to trial a second time. His defense lawyer presented evidence that Cash was left-handed and therefore the cartridges found outside the car were consistent with his claim of self-defense. On June 19, 2008, the jury acquitted Cash and he was released.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date:  Before June 2012
Last Updated: 7/9/2017
State:Florida
County:Hillsborough
Most Serious Crime:Murder
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:1997
Convicted:1998
Exonerated:2008
Sentence:50 years
Race:Caucasian
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:23
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct, Inadequate Legal Defense
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No