Among those expected to be called to the stand for testimony in the case were Wilson’s former legal counsel, Jim White, and a prominent businessman, Derwin White, who backed Wilson’s campaign for the State Attorney’s Office, according to court records.
PANAMA CITY — A hearing to discuss several pending motions in the criminal case against Greg Wilson was postponed Thursday and the defense has withdrawn its request to have one charge dismissed, claiming the state failed to let Wilson recant his sworn statement.
A follow-up court date has been scheduled for Sept. 12. No reason was given for the postponement.
Prosecutor Jack Campbell had been scheduled Thursday to ask Circuit Judge Michael Overstreet to bar any “irrelevant” defenses at trial while Wilson’s defense attorneys sought to restrict the use of a key piece of evidence — the video that shows his role in the passing of notes between two inmates. Wilson faces a charge of introduction of contraband into the Bay County Jail related to the video and a misdemeanor charge of perjury for a denial of his involvement in an informal proceeding.
Among those subpoenaed by the prosecution to testify at Thursday's hearing were Wilson’s former legal counsel, Jim White, and a prominent businessman, Derwin White, who backed Wilson’s campaign for the State Attorney’s Office, according to court records.
The events that led to the two being subpoenaed began with Wilson’s current defense attorney, Lisa Anderson, filing a motion Aug. 30 to dismiss the perjury charge, claiming Wilson attempted to recant his statements to law enforcement but was not allowed to do so.
Anderson told the court that Wilson’s denial of helping the inmates pass “kites,” or folded pieces of paper, had been taken on a Friday at the end of a business day. The following Monday morning “at the first opportunity available,” Wilson’s then-attorney, Jim White, attempted to contact BCSO to recant Wilson’s statement. It wasn’t until later in the afternoon that BCSO responded with what Anderson described as a refusal to accept Wilson’s recantation.
“Attorney White advised (BCSO Maj. Jimmy Stanford) that (Wilson) wanted to recant his previous statement,” Anderson wrote. “Stanford denied attorney White’s request and advised that he had all that ‘he needed’ from (Wilson). Investigator Stanford did not allow (Wilson) to recant his statement.”
Anderson went on to argue that Wilson was unaware his arrest was imminent at the time he was trying to recant, and the refusal was a violation of Wilson’s right to due process. However, documents filed by prosecutor Campbell the same day, anticipating the “recantation defense,” painted a different picture of what happened in the days between Wilson's sworn statement and his request to recant.
“The known testimony is that previous counsel, Jim White, contacted (Stanford) three days after the perjured statement and after Major Stanford had informed (Wilson’s) friends that an arrest for perjury was imminent,” Campbell wrote. “Stanford discussed with Mr. White that any recantation or truthful statement concerning his passing documents within the Bay County Jail would essentially be a confession to a felony. Mr. White indicated that he would discuss the issue with his client. No other overtures or attempts to recant were ever extended.”
One of the “friends” Campbell referred to is later identified in the motion as Derwin White — vice president of GAC contractors, a supporter of Wilson’s campaign and the father of the two inmates Wilson is accused of helping pass notes while incarcerated. Campbell warned that a recantation defense would entail both Jim White and Derwin White becoming witnesses in the case and subpoenaed them after seeing the motion to dismiss, according to court records.
Anderson later filed notice of withdrawal of her motion to dismiss the perjury charge. A reason was not given in the court records. With the hearing now set for Wednesday, it was unclear whether either of the men would be called again but there was no record of a second subpoena on file at the courthouse.
The case is still slated to go before a jury Sept. 17.
Wilson, 46, is charged with helping the two inmates — sisters Clista Robbins and Christy White — pass the notes while meeting with him at separate times in an attorney interview room. When questioned under oath about his actions, Wilson categorically denied the allegations as “absolutely false,” but at that time he was not aware of the video capturing the events.
One of the defenses pursued by Wilson has been that his arrest was a case of political retaliation, or “selective prosecution,” because BCSO obtained legal advice from his former boss and political rival, State Attorney Glenn Hess, before installing the cameras.
Wilson was the chief assistant attorney for seven years under Hess. As the primary elections approached in August 2016, Wilson abruptly resigned, saying Hess did not fulfill an agreement to bow out at the end of his second term and hand Wilson a shot at the office.
Wilson took on his former boss to be top prosecutor over Bay, Calhoun, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson and Washington counties, and lost to Hess by a 58 percent to 42 percent margin, but vowed to make another run for state attorney in 2020.
It was about a year later Wilson became the subject of a BCSO investigation at the Bay County Jail after officers heard recorded jailhouse calls they suspected of involving controlled substances. The calls led jail personnel to hide cameras in an attorney interview room in September 2017, which captured Wilson apparently assisting the two sisters pass notes.
At the next hearing, Anderson will be asking for the video to be inadmissible at trial because capturing the video violated attorney-client privilege. And Campbell will be asking the court to bar any defense impertinent to the underlying criminal charges.