Trial for former Sheriff Darryl Daniels delayed until next year

Former Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels will now stand trial in February, instead of in two weeks. He's accused of lying to investigators and tampering with evidence during an investigation into an affair with a former co-worker.

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – The trial for former Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels has been delayed until next year.

The trial, which was set to begin Dec. 13, was pushed back until February on Wednesday morning after the state filed a motion asking for it to be moved because a lead detective in the case, who is also serving as a witness, is dealing with a medical issue that would not allow him to be available this month.

The judge said he’s considering starting the trial on either Feb. 14 or 21. The judge will make a final decision on the start date during Daniels’ next court hearing on Feb. 2.

Daniels faces charges of giving false information and tampering with evidence during an investigation into an affair with a former co-worker.

State Attorney Melissa Nelson recused her office because of a conflict of interest, so the Fifth Circuit Attorney’s Office in St. Johns County is handling the case.

Daniels was arrested in August 2020 after an investigation was launched into an affair between Daniels and a woman named Cierra Smith, who was a corrections officer at the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

According to the investigation, Daniels and Smith were in a relationship while they worked at the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, where Daniels was Smith’s boss. The affair continued after Daniels was elected sheriff of Clay County.

When JSO’s internal investigation was about to be released, Daniels and Smith admitted to their affair. Daniels is accused of ordering one of his deputies to illegally arrest Smith for stalking him in 2019 after he told his wife the affair was over. Investigators said Daniels lied to them about the actions he took when the affair became public and had his phone scrubbed of incriminating communications.

News4JAX got a copy of a deposition Smith recorded two weeks ago. Notably, the witness’ name was redacted. News4JAX was there as Smith walked into the office.

Sources told News4JAX Daniels rejected a plea offer.

Calls to Daniels’ attorney have not been returned.

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