NEW PORT RICHEY — The mother of a Pasco inmate was arrested Tuesday after sending a letter from her son to a state prison seeking to have a witness in his murder case killed, according to the Pasco Sheriff’s Office.
James Barron, 23, who is in the Land O’ Lakes Jail awaiting trial on two murders, including a December 2011 shooting death in Holiday, sent a letter to his mother on Oct. 2 to have a witness killed in that case.
Barron’s mother, Michelle Lee Miller, 44, 1037 Solar Drive, Holiday, received the letter from her son, repackaged it and then sent it to an inmate at Sumter Correctional Institution in Bushnell.
The inmate wrote back to Miller that the murder would be carried out, “ASAP,” detectives said.
The intended victim, whose identity was not revealed, is a witness in the two homicide cases against Barron and wore a wire during a conversation he had with Barron.
Although an amount was not discussed, money was to be paid for the jailhouse murder.
“While he’s (been) in our detention facility, he has not been an upstanding inmate,” Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco said during a Thursday press conference. “He has been a problem for the past two years for us and we’ve been monitoring his actions.”
The letter that was sent to Miller as well as the response letter Miller received from the unidentified inmate in Bushnell was read by Pasco detectives with the assistance of a sheriff’s office gang specialist to decode gang-related terminology.
The letter sent to Miller and later forwarded included slang for having someone killed, detectives said.
A search warrant was obtained to enter Miller’s Holiday home on Oct. 17 where the response letter from Sumter Correctional was found and addressed to Barron.
The letter is illegal because inmates are not allowed to correspond.
“I’m very convinced she has been the subject of multiple criminal investigations involving her son James Barron,” Detective William Lindsey said. “She’s been active in many of his cases. She’s surrounded herself with gang members, she talks like a gang member. She knows exactly what the letter said and through my investigation I determined that she had read the letter and forwarded the letter knowing what it was.”
Barron and the intended victim are documented members of the Bloods gang, Lindsey said.
Miller told detectives she was given the witness’ name and she searched the Department of Corrections’ website to determine his location. Once she found where he was being held, she sent the letter to that facility.
The witness has been placed in protective custody.
Miller is charged with one count of solicitation to commit murder and remains in the Land O’ Lakes Jail with a $300,000 bond.
In a related case, Daniel David Feliciano, 32, already in the Land O’ Lakes, was charged with tampering with a witness Wednesday.
Feliciano approached a man in the jail and said he and other gang members had addresses of the other inmate’s relatives. Feliciano told the inmate, whose identity was not released, that if he testified against him and Barron, the man’s family would be killed, an arrest report said.
Feliciano also said there was a “green light” to kill the inmate as well, according to deputies.
“James Barron is a menace to society,” Lindsey said. “He was a menace when he was on the street. He was involved in multiple crimes between burglary, drug dealing, attempted murder, assaults, robberies. All of these cases we’ve investigated, several of them he’s been arrested on and now he’s finally facing life in prison or the death penalty.”
Barron is charged with shooting Cedric Saunders, 18, during the early morning hours of Dec. 9, 2011 near Merrilon and Wellington drives in the Holiday Lake Estates subdivision. Barron told witnesses he was meeting Sanders to buy cocaine and planned on robbing him, an arrest report said.
Saunders was shot four times and his car keys were found inside Barron’s apartment, the report said.
In January 2012, Barron was identified as the shooter in an August 2011 murder in which Kamar Allen, 24, of Hudson, suffered a single gunshot to the head, deputies said. His body was found in a field between Anclote Boulevard and Blossom Lake Drive.
In an arrest report, Barron told a witness he confronted Allen about robbing his mother.
The trial for Saunders is set for Jan. 6, 2014, while the trial for Allen’s murder is set for the following week.