Orlando Ricardo Thompson, 27, was found guilty of second-degree murder in the June 2015 death of 33-year-old former Chipley resident Caleb Joshua Halley, who at one time had portrayed “Chief Osceola,” FSU football’s mascot. The argument that ended in Halley’s death was over gumbo seasoning.
PANAMA CITY — A seafood vendor employee was convicted Thursday of murder for fatally stabbing a co-worker with a “decorative sword” over gumbo seasoning.
Orlando Ricardo Thompson, 27, was found guilty of second-degree murder as charged in the June 2015 death of 33-year-old former Chipley resident Caleb Joshua Halley, who at one time had portrayed “Chief Osceola,” FSU football’s mascot. The evidence in the case had been argued for almost two years since an argument erupted over gumbo seasoning behind Buddy’s Seafood Market, 111 State 79, and escalated into the stabbing.
Thompson faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced May 4 by Circuit Judge Michael Overstreet, officials said. Thompson will have a chance to make his case at his sentencing as to why he should receive a lighter sentence than life.
Family members of both men, who at one time had been roommates, wept in the courtroom when the verdict was read. Thompson’s family declined to comment afterward.
Jurors deliberated more than two hours at the end of the four-day trial.
Prosecutor Bob Sombathy introduced the video at the trial’s onset to establish that Thompson had ample opportunity to leave before the stabbing occurred.
The video was broken down into two separate events, both without audio, the afternoon of June 23, 2015.
In the first, Halley confronts Thompson about adding spice to the seafood business’ gumbo. Posturing, shouting and shoving ensues with both men arming themselves — Thompson with a 2x4 board and Halley with a pocket knife — before they separate and disarm.
“The fight is over at that point,” Sombathy told the jury. “No one lost face. Everyone had a weapon but nobody did anything stupid like use it ... but that’s not where it ends.”
In the 11 seconds that follows, Thompson runs inside to a spice closet, grabs a foot-long sword with knuckle guards and returns.
Sombathy argued the haste with which Thompson returned showed his lack of fear. It also demonstrated Thompson then became the aggressor, Sombathy said.
“Thompson ran back out," he said. “Inside the store are customers, the manager. Across the street is the police department, but he’s not interested in that.”
That’s when the men tangle for a second time, and Halley arms himself with a mop stick against the sword. Halley repeatedly strikes at Thompson’s hand in an attempt to disarm him. At some point, Halley suffers a stab wound severe enough to expose his intestines.
Sombathy argued the second altercation was avoidable had Thompson not returned. The jury sided with the prosecution.
Halley was taken to a hospital after the stabbing and died from his injuries two days later.
Halley's family says the conviction brought justice — but they will suffer his loss forever.
“Justice for Josh has been served, but it doesn't bring him back,” said a representative for the family. “We suffered the loss of a brilliant young man. Josh just touched so many lives.”
Halley, who graduated from Chipley High School in 2000, was well known for his portrayal of Florida State University’s Chief Osceola from 2004 to 2007.