Fort Myers man sentenced to 30 years for drugs, child abuse, car chase

Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:
Jessie James Peterson. Credit: Lee County Sheriff’s Office

A Fort Myers man was sentenced to 30 years in prison Thursday afternoon on charges related to a 2019 incident in which he led deputies on a high-speed chase, used an infant as a human shield and was found with trafficking amounts of drugs in his vehicle.

Jessie James Peterson Jr., 36, received the guilty sentence after a three-day trial in Lee County. According to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, the crime occurred in 2019, when deputies attempted to pull Peterson over for a traffic stop and he refused to get off the road. He drove away and intentionally crashed into an LCSO detective’s vehicle.

Peterson sped away and was chased by deputies until he lost control of his vehicle and crashed off Tamiami Trail. As deputies approached, they saw two small children inside with Peterson. An infant was being clutched by the defendant as a human shield. The child was safely rescued, as was the other child, a 5-year-old, who was unsecured in the backseat. The defendant continued to resist arrest before being subdued and taken into custody.

Upon searching the defendant’s vehicle, deputies found drugs scattered throughout the vehicle due to the crash. There were trafficking amounts of methamphetamine on the floor, cocaine in the center console and floor, and a bag of fentanyl on the front passenger seat.

Peterson was charged with aggravated fleeing or eluding, resisting or obstructing an officer without violence, trafficking in amphetamine, possession of cocaine, two counts of possession of a controlled substance, two counts of child abuse, driving while license
suspended (habitual revocation), and aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer.

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