JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Fourth of July may be a celebration for many, but for Sami Safar’s family, it will mark 22 years since he was murdered by Karl Waldon, who was a Jacksonville sheriff’s officer at the time.
Waldon was convicted of killing Safar, a Northside business owner. Before Waldon’s 2002 trial, all other defendants reached plea agreements with federal prosecutors, and most of them testified against Waldon. Also testifying was Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Detective William Baer, who retired right before the trial. Baer was a government witness against Waldon.
Now, Baer is facing a murder charge. The Sheriff’s Office announced Thursday that Baer and Melissa Schafer, his ex-wife, were arrested in the murder of another business owner, Saad Kawaf, who was stabbed to death in his garage at his Deerwood home more than two decades ago.
Here are the similarities: Both Waldon and Baer are former Jacksonville officers accused of killing store owners. Both store owners had thousands of dollars in cash. Waldon murdered Safar in 1998. Baer is accused of killing and robbing Kawaf in 1999.
Attorney Randy Reep, a partner of a local law firm, said if Baer is convicted, it could force the Sheriff’s Office to re-evaluate any case Baer ever participated in.
“In this case, because it would be under what’s called newly discovered evidence, it has the opportunity to open up the arrest and convictions that he may have been apart of,” said Reep, who is not affiliated with the case.
Reep said though Baer is facing a murder charge, that doesn’t mean he lied while testifying against Waldon in federal court.
“We have co-defendants murder people all the time, testifying against one another, to weigh their credibility,” Reep said.
Though the 1998 and 1999 killings have similar scenarios, a judge or jury will have to decide whether Baer is guilty, too.
During Waldron’s trial, his attorney insisted that Waldon was the victim of lies from a group of corrupt officers and witnesses.