Family asks governor for coroner's inquest in woman's death

By News4Jax.com Staff, webteam@wjxt.com
Published On: Apr 24 2014 04:32:43 PM EDT
Updated On: Apr 24 2014 06:57:00 PM EDT

Saying they have given up on local law enforcement, a Saint Augustine family takes their complaints to Tallahassee - and the Governor's office. The family of Michelle O'Connell continues to believe she died in a homicide and did not commit suicide .. as Saint Johns county investigators have concluded.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -

The family of a St. Augustine woman who's death was ruled a suicide is asking the governor for help in their search for justice.

Michelle O'Connell was found dead at her boyfriend's home in September 2010. O'Connell's boyfriend, Jeremy Banks, is an officer with the St. John's County Sheriff's Office.

The Sheriff's Office ruled it a suicide, but an independent investigation from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement determined it looked more like a homicide.

Family members dropped off a letter Thursday asking for the governor to ask for a coroner's inquest. They also plan to deliver petitions to the governor this summer in support of their request.

The family believes O'Connell was killed by Banks. She died from a bullet from the service revolver that belonged to Banks.

"We are following evidence, not emotion," said Ciara Morris, O'Connell's best friend. "We're following several pieces of evidence we believe that show this was not a suicide."

"These women are looking at the forensic evidence," family attorney Benjamin Crump said.

O'Connell's brother is not involved in this effort. He believes his sister's death was a suicide and has filed a lawsuit against the FDLE and its lead investigator, claiming he was misled about the evidence.

St. Johns County Sheriff David Shoar has admitted his agency made mistakes during the investigation. He blames FDLE Agent Rusty Rodgers for misconduct.

Shoar has formally complained to FDLE about Rodgers.

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