By Scott Buttler
Jacksonville Florida Times-Union
Published 4:11PM Jan. 11, 2024
Father of Haleigh Cummings seeks to have Putnam County charges dropped (jacksonville.com)
Ronald Cummings, the father of missing and presumed dead Haleigh Cummings, appeared in Putnam County Circuit Court for a pretrial hearing Thursday January 11th in his latest arrest on Christmas Day 2022.
He had been released from prison about two months prior after serving time on separate drug charges.
The 40-year-old’s newest charges were amended on Nov. 9 to battery on a law enforcement officer, trafficking phenethylamines (10 to 200 grams), possession of a controlled substance without a prescription, resisting an officer with violence, depriving an officer of means of protection or communication and possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, according to the Putnam County court records.
Cummings and his then-girlfriend Misty Croslin gained national attention beginning in February 2009 when 5-year-old Haleigh was reported missing and prompted an extensive search that to this day never resulted in her being found. Croslin, who was not the girl’s birth mother, was watching her that night at their Satsuma home while Cummings worked, and Haleigh disappeared. It was feared she had been abducted, but several other theories cast doubts about the young couple’s story.
Several people, including Cummings and Croslin, were charged during the lengthy search and investigation into unrelated drug offenses.
In the latest case, Cummings’ attorney Terry Shoemaker filed a motion on Dec. 23 to dismiss the charges of trafficking in phenethylamines and depriving an officer of means of protection or communication.
The January 11th hearing discussed the motion and upcoming depositions.
What was Ronald Cummings arrested for Christmas Day 2022?
The case summary follows.
Shortly after midnight Deputy Richard Tisdale responded to a crash and possible vehicle fire at Sisco Road and Olivia Lane in Pomona Park. A Hyundai Sonata appeared to have hit the Olivia Lane road sign. Cummings was sitting in the driver’s seat with the car’s engine still running. He appeared to be sleeping or unconscious with a bottle of Hennessy liquor in his lap, the arrest report said.
After waking him, Tisdale started pulling Cummings out of the car as he attempted to drive away. Once out of the vehicle, Cummings pushed the deputy and a tussle ensued, he reported. Tisdale said the suspect began reaching for and attempting to pull his gun from the holster and knocked his Sheriff’s Office radio to the ground.
Cummings was eventually handcuffed and searched. A rock-like substance was found in Cummings’ rear left pants pocket, along with a pressed white pill inscribed with “U16,” according to the motion summary. A small clear baggie containing a similar white powdery rock-like substance also was found in his front left pants pocket.
During his arrest, Cummings started rapping and blurting out, “You think I’m scared of prison?” according to the arrest report.
What factors are being contested in Ronald Cummings’ trafficking charge?
After locating the suspected drugs, the deputy combined the bags and field-tested and weighed them, the motion states. The substances tested positive for oxycodone and weighed 15.5 grams.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement received one bag containing a white, rocky powder and brown flecks for testing. The suspected drugs were determined to be dimethylpentylone, also known as ecstasy or molly, and weighed 14.46 grams, +/- 0.17 grams, according to the motion.
“Law enforcement needed to commingle the unknown substance to achieve the weight needed to reach a trafficking charge,” the motion states. “However, it has long been held that commingling of unknown substances will defeat a charge of trafficking.”
The motion also stressed that the deputy stated he found two individually wrapped bags on Cummings but were introduced into evidence as one bag.
“Thus, prior to being tested to determine the substance, two unknown substances are commingled, tested and weighed,” the motion states. “It is impossible to say whether one bag had suspected oxycodone and the other bag had a legal substance.”
Why should Ronald Cummings’ other charge be dismissed?
For the charge of depriving an officer of means of protection or communication, Cummings is reported to have reached back and grabbed the handle of the deputy’s firearm. Tisdale then took Cummings to the ground in an attempt to restrain and get handcuffs on him. That’s when his radio fell off his service belt, the motion states.
When asked if the deputy felt that Cummings intentionally grabbed the radio, Tisdale responded, “Idon’t know, it just came off as we went to the ground,” according to the motion.
For this charge, the motion cites a Florida statute that requires a specific intent to deprive a law enforcement officer of a radio or other means of communication.
“Based on Deputy Tisdale’s testimony during the deposition, it is evident that there is no proof that Mr. Cummings intentionally knocked off or tried to take the radio,” the motion states.
Where is Misty Croslin?
Croslin, 32, is serving her 25-year drug sentence with a scheduled release date of June 17, 2031, according to the Department of Corrections. She and Cummings had married but eventually divorced.
On Oct. 19, 2022, Cummings was released from his 15-year mandatory minimum drug-trafficking sentence in 2010, according to the Florida Department of Corrections. He qualified for incentive gain time after serving 85% of his prison sentence under state law. He was now living in Welaka.