WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A Palm Beach County man who made national headlines after spending 10 days in jail for missing jury duty is thankful that a judge had a change of heart.
"I was ecstatic. I was just happy that everything was dropped," said 21-year-old DeAndre Somerville on Tuesday.
Fifteenth Circuit Civil Judge John Kastrenakes sentenced Somerville to 10 days in jail, put him on probation for a year, and ordered him to complete 150 hours of community service after the young man overslept and missed jury duty.
However, after Somerville read a poignant and heartfelt letter of apology in court last week, Judge Kastrenakes vacated and rescinded Somerville's contempt of court charge and punishment, meaning his record his now clean.
The judge's order read, in part:
"I know he has been totally rehabilitated... upon reflection, that redemption should be immediately rewarded by vacating any finding of contempt."
"I'm just glad that he did have a change of heart and he really knows the real me and he sees that I'm not a bad kid. I'm just someone who made a bad mistake," Somerville told WPTV's Michelle Quesada on Tuesday.
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Somerville said he plans on writing a letter that will be read aloud to jurors in court, expressing the importance of jury duty.
"I made a mistake, I did my time, I saw what jail was like," said Somerville. "It leaves a message in the back of my head."
Somerville is a church drummer and part-time city employee who takes care of his disabled grandfather. He also volunteers at food drives and has helped paint homes for Habitat For Humanity.
The young man said his stint in jail gave him an opportunity to examine his life, his choices, and his goals.
"Now that I found myself as a person, I feel the sky is the limit," said Somerville. "I can be whoever I want to be, and do whatever I want to do."
Somerville, who wants to become a firefighter or probation officer for juveniles, is now focused on saving money to buy a car and go back to school.
"I understand kids. I been through some things in life. I feel like I have a gift to understand people," said Somerville.
Now that this challenging point in Somerville's life is behind him, his goal is to work toward his dreams and inspire others along the way.
"I'm a firm believer that everything happens for a reason," said Somerville. "If you stay hard and stay on course, anything is possible."