Misty Croslin takes stand in appeal of drug conviction

Last person to see Haleigh Cummings appealing conviction, 25-year sentence

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Misty Croslin, who was a teenager babysitting Haleigh Cummings when the 5-year-old Satsuma girl disappeared in 2009, took the stand at a hearing Tuesday morning in St. Johns County, asking a judge to overturn her 2010 conviction on drug trafficking charges.

"I was under medication and wasn't fully aware of what was going on," Croslin said. "I put all my trust in him."

Croslin claimed that her plea was involuntary because her lawyer, Robert Fields, told her that if she plead no contest, she would be sentenced to a maximum of six years in prison as a youthful offender.

"He pretty much just told me not to worry ... everything is going to be OK," Croslin said.

Crostin, who was the first witness Tuesday, admitted that judges in both St. Johns and Putnam counties told her she would face a 25-year mandatory minimum sentence, but thought that was the maximum, not the sentence she would receive.

Attorney: "Did he ever, at any time, tell you there's a possibility that you could get more than that?"
Croslin: "He never told me. He just told me not to worry about anything."

In her appeal, Croslin claims that she didn't understand any of the procedure because she was being treated with psychotropic drugs for depression and PTSD over Haleigh's disappearance.

Croslin's father, Hank Croslin, also testified that Fields said repeatedly that his daughter would not get more than six years in prison because she had never been in legal trouble before.

Fields was called to the stand and was asked if he made any promise to Croslin about a six-year sentence.

"That's ridiculous," he said. "There were no promises made. I never do that. In my 16 years (practicing law), I never made a promise to a client."

Fields described a 25-year sentence as "the ultimate prize," because Croslin was facing the rest of her life in prison. He said he told that with this plea agreement, she would be released by the time she was her mother's age.

"We got 25 years concurrent across the board, and that was a success. She wanted to get out. We discussed (it) many times," Fields said.

Fields said he felt the sting in which Croslin and others were videotaped in drug deals with undercover investigators was directly related to law enforcement trying to get information from her on Haleigh's disappearance.

Fields said he began counseling Croslin after Haleigh's disappearance and before her drug arrest.

"I felt obligated (to help her). She had no one else," Fields said.

Fields testified that in the months before to her drug arrest, he even advised Croslin to go far away, even to Europe, to get away from the public scrutiny in the wake of Haleigh's disappearance.

"She (started) kind of doing things that were a little flashy," Fields said, including flying to New York to appear on network television shows. His advice to her: "Be good. Lie low."

The hearing ended after just over an hour with the St. Johns Circuit Judge Michael Traynor asking both sides to submit written arguments within 30 days. Putnam County Circuit Judge Patti Christensen also heard arguments in the hearing as some the charges Croslin was convicted on were from that jurisdiction.

DOCUMENT: Motion for new trial

After Haleigh disappeared, Croslin married the missing girl's father, Ronald Cummings, who is also slso serving 25 years in prison, as are Brock and two other people on drug-dealing convictions. Prosecutors released surveillance videos that they said show undercover drug deals involving Misty and Ronald Cummings.

Authorities always maintained that the drug charges have no connection to the ongoing investigation into Haleigh's disappearance. The child was never found. The Putnam County Sheriff's Office considers it an unsolved a homicide case.

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