Murder charges dropped in 2019 Tallahassee shooting
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The state attorney has dropped murder charges against a man accused in a fatal 2019 Tallahassee shooting after new evidence surfaced in June 2022.
Preston Hart was accused of shooting and killing Jason Joseph during an argument on the corner of Indiana and Calloway Streets back on Jan. 13, 2019.
Hart’s retrial was put on pause last month after the new evidence surfaced.
That evidence, according to the State Attorney’s Office, is a Facebook message from Deontae Cromartie taking credit for Jason Joseph’s murder.
Cromartie said he was present at the shooting, and he initially told law enforcement that he saw Hart shoot and kill Joseph.
The State Attorney’s Office said in a press release Monday, “After consultation with [The Tallahassee Police Department] and the victim’s family, the State cannot proceed in good faith based on this level of uncertainty, and today dropped the pending murder charges against Preston Hart.”
Hart pled no contest to a charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Hart’s defense attorney, John Eagen, said he believes justice has been served.
“I’m greatly relieved that my client is not only getting released today but that he does not have to face the murder charge,” Eagen said. “We tried this case before and we got a hung jury, so this is a preferred outcome.”
Hart’s aunt was in the courtroom Monday and hugged Eagen as court was adjourned.
“Thank God he’s coming home,” she said. “And young guys, put the guns down.”
State Attorney Jack Campbell says his office and TPD have been trying to locate Deontae Cromartie but have been unable to find him.
Campbell says he will not be filing charges against Cromartie at this time, saying “the evidence is equally uncertain as to his culpability.”
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