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Mississippi Agrees to Extradite Person of Interest in Somer Thompson Case

6:05 PM, Feb 22, 2010   |    comments
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Jarred Harrell

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Now that the governor of Mississippi has consented, Clay County can extradite Jarred Harrell to face child pornography charges in Clay County anytime.

According to Dale Carson, a retired FBI agent and defense attorney, the extradition process for the man considered a person of interest in the Somer Thompson case should be swift.

In October, 7-year-old Somer disappeared as she walked home from school in Orange Park. Her body was found a few days later in a Georgia landfill. The case remains unsolved.

"I think yes, they do have some reason to believe he's involved.  How good that information is, and is it good enough to convict him beyond a reasonable doubt in court is another matter altogether," Carson said. 

Thursday afternoon Florida Gov. Charlie Crist stepped in to request that Harrell be extradited from Mississippi to Clay County. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour complied Friday.


Harrell recently was arrested on child porn charges. He remains in jail on $1 million bail.

Carson said, based on his experience, Harrell will be ready to talk to detectives once he gets to Clay County. "It's more likely, in my view, he will talk about some things. They don't just clam up and not say anything."

There is a good reason why Harrell is named only as a person of interest for now, he said. "One of the issues is, if there's an arrest in Somer's case, you start a timeclock, and it starts ticking and you can't reset that.

Once an arrest is made and a charge formally filed, authorities must go to trial within 175 days, unless the time restriction is waived. "Once you charge somebody, you are obligated to turn over to defense attorneys all the information you have." 

Carson said in a case like Somer's, you don't want to do that too quickly.

"If I was the investigator, I'd be stalling that as long as we could to make sure we got (all the) information we could out of the evidence that we have," said Carson.




Following Harrell's arrest in Mississippi, nearly two weeks ago, Clay County Sheriff Rick Beseler held a news conference announcing that Harrell was also a person of interest in the Somer Thompson case. He used to live near Somer's home, and along her route home from school.

Harrell said last week that he wanted to fight extradition and would not sign an extradition waiver, which is what led to Crist's request from Barbour.

"After working closely with the Office of State Attorney Angela Corey in the 4th Circuit, today I requested that Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour grant the extradition of fugitive Jarred Mitchell Harrell to Florida, where he faces 29 counts of possession of child pornography," said Crist in his request Thursday.

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