OKEECHOBEE — Derrick Lee Clay was sentenced to life in prison on Friday, Oct. 9, after he entered a plea of no contest to the charge of murder in the second degree in Judge Michael Heisey’s courtroom in the Okeechobee Judicial Center. He also entered no contest pleas to charges of introduction of contraband into a detention facility, robbery and aggravated battery by a detainee. Each charge came with its own sentence, but all were to be served concurrently.
Clay, 31, was arrested on April 27 by Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Detective Dale LaFlam. Just after midnight Sunday morning, April 26, deputies responded to a report of a body lying in the road on Northeast 14th Avenue. The victim was identified as Tohermain Rosier. Okeechobee County Fire Rescue also responded and reported Rosier was deceased. Deputies determined Rosier had been stabbed. Rosier’s mother told deputies her son had received a phone call earlier and left to meet someone. When he did not return, she went looking for him. She found deputies out in the street and was told her son was dead.
Video surveillance obtained in the investigation helped deputies identify Clay as the person who allegedly stabbed Rosier. He was reportedly seen in a vehicle with his girlfriend, Cheyenne Smith, who was also arrested.
In August, while still in jail, Clay was accused of stabbing his cellmate.
Deputy Michael Cauley responded to the jail in reference to the stabbing. When he arrived, he was told by jail staff that inmate John Brighton had been stabbed by Clay and had been taken to the medical section.
Brighton reportedly said he had been sleeping on his bunk when he was wakened by his cellmate stabbing him with a shank. He immediately went to the cell gate and began screaming for help. He said he did not know why Clay stabbed him.
Brighton had stab wounds on his chest, both arms and left shoulder.
When questioned, Clay reportedly said: “They got me in a room with this dude. I’m having issues with this dude. He is doing stuff that is not making me sure about him.” He went on to state he believed his cellmate was conspiring with someone downstairs and that they had made a knife. “I’ve been hearing voices sometimes. Things are telling me that he is trying to jump my case.” Clay claimed the shank belonged to Brighton and that he took it out from under Brighton’s pillow and stabbed him with it.
When questioned about stabbing his cellmate at the time, Clay reportedly said Brighton told him he knew Rosier, the murder victim. Clay believed Brighton was plotting revenge with another inmate, and he couldn’t sleep because he thought Brighton would attack him while he slept.
In court, Clay said he did not mean to kill Rosier and that Smith had nothing to do with the death.
Rosier’s mother and sister were given the opportunity to address the court before Clay was sentenced, and both gave tearful statements. “You took our world. He was everything to us. You don’t deserve to ever get out of prison,” said his sister.
“I have too much respect for this court to say what I really think,” said his mother. “But, I will just say, you are a liar.”
According to Assistant State Attorney Ashley Albright, the State of Florida does not offer parole if one is sentenced to life in prison, so Clay’s sentence is life without the possibility of parole.