Grand jury indicts Deschamps

OKEECHOBEE — A local grand jury came back with a true bill Tuesday and indicted 47-year-old Mark Deschamps on a charge of premeditated first-degree murder.

Deschamps was arrested Oct. 24 for allegedly stabbing Flavia Leticia Escobar Munoz, 23, to death. At the time Deschamps was in a small bathroom in the home he shared with Munoz and Duane Ford Thomas, whom he had just stabbed in the face.

Mark Glen Deschamps, 47

Detectives with the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) detailed how Deschamps plunged a 10- to 12-inch hunting knife into the right side of Thomas’ face. The blade broke the man’s orbital bone under his right eye and broke his nose. The blade came out the left side of the man’s face and left a laceration of nearly 3 inches in this cheek.

Deschamps was arrested a short time later.

To officially be charged with first-degree murder, the state has to take its case to a grand jury. It’s then up to that group of people to determine if the state has the proof to warrant that charge.

When the grand jury returned Dec. 13 with their true bill they also indicted Deschamps on one count of attempted first-degree murder, two counts of aggravated assault with a firearm and one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Assistant state attorney Ashley Albright said Deschamps is facing a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted on the murder charge.

He will continue to be held in the Okeechobee County Jail without bond.

Mr. Albright explained according to Florida laws a grand jury is made up of 21 people, and 15 have to be present to have a quorum.

The alleged murder is being handled by Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office detectives Corporal Ted Van Deman and Howard Pickering.

Detective Pickering said that small bathroom in the Playland Park home was covered in blood.

“It looked like a slaughterhouse,” he said in an earlier interview.

The detective explained as Deschamps was trying to help clean up the wounds to Thomas’ face, Munoz was standing in the doorway. As she stood there Deschamps turned and plunged that hunting knife into the right-center area of her chest.

“You just killed me!” she shouted.

She then turned and walked out of the three-bedroom concrete block home. She made it as far as the driveway where she collapsed and died.

Detective Pickering said Deschamps awoke shortly after 3 a.m. on the morning of Oct. 24 after allegedly bingeing on drugs.

“He woke up in a delusional state of mind,” offered the OCSO investigator.

By 3:30 a.m. Munoz was lying in the driveway of the N.W. 45th Terrace home and Deschamps was calling 9-1-1. He reportedly told OCSO dispatchers the woman was dead, noted Cpl. Van Deman.

Cpl. Van Deman explained that when Deschamps awoke he accused Munoz and Thomas, 40, of stealing from him. He also claimed the two had struck up a relationship. He then took them into his bedroom, which he was renting from Thomas and often sharing with Munoz, and showed them what he claimed was a surveillance video of them stealing from him.

The computer screen, however, was blank.

“We believe the murder was done out of perceived jealousy,” said Cpl. Van Deman. “He (Deschamps) was seeing things and believing things that weren’t true. According to what we know, he was up for several days prior to this.

“We believe he was not in his right mind due to the drugs,” added the investigator.

When the detectives executed a search warrant on that bedroom, they found suspected methamphetamine, syringes and a 12-gauge shotgun. Because Deschamps is a convicted felon, he is prohibited from having a gun.

Records show Deschamps has 30 felony arrests with 15 convictions, along with 16 misdemeanor arrests and five convictions.

He was sent to prison March 17, 2013, after being found guilty on felony charges of driving while license suspended and driving under the influence – fourth conviction. He was released from the Department of Corrections (DOC) July 28, 2014.

Eric Kopp is a staff writer for the Okeechobee News

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