Cousin Charged in Murder of Gulf Medical Founder

Posted on July 31, 2023 by Romi White

Friends and family of Gulf Medical Founder Stephen Lee Jernigan packed the chapel during his funeral last Friday. Many expressed a desire to see justice for the murder which cut short Jernigan’s extraordinary life at 70 years of age.

Jernigan’s cousin, 53-year-old Robert Patrick Jernigan, known as “Bobby,” was booked July 20 into Santa Rosa County Jail on a first-degree felony count of homicide: murder – dangerous depraved without premeditation. He will be arraigned before the Honorable Judge J. Scott Duncan at 9 a.m., Thursday, August 10 at Santa Rosa County Courthouse. Prosecutor Hayden Hudson has been assigned the case.

Bobby’s arrest report states that on July 19 he “intentionally choked and then ‘ran over’ (Stephen) with a golf cart.” The incident took place at Stephen’s home on Schnoor Road in the Chumuckla Community.

Allentown Fire Department Assistant Chief B.J. Holland arrived on scene, checked the victim’s vitals and determined Stephen was deceased.

Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office Deputies reported they observed the left rear tire of the golf cart was on the grass and that it appeared to have dug into the grass as if it was “under acceleration.”

A witness at the scene reported hearing Bobby and Stephen in a loud argument before finding the victim under the golf cart.

Bobby was later interviewed at SRSO’s Major Crimes Office. “During the course of the interview Bobby changes his story numerous times,” states his arrest report.

Per the arrest report, Bobby admitted drinking a beer and 2-3 whiskey glasses of Scotch. He said a discussion became a “heated verbal argument that turned physical.” He claimed that he picked Stephen up off the ground and they “worked” things out before Bobby decided it was time to leave.

Bobby told police he did not remember how he got back to his vehicle but he did remember driving home.

Police noted that during the interview Bobby’s right hand was “visibly swollen” as compared to his other hand. He told cops he did not know what happened to his hand and did not even know it was swollen it was mentioned to him. He then stated it might have happened during the altercation.

Bobby remains in Santa Rosa County Jail without bond. He will be arraigned at 9 a.m., Thursday, August 10 before the Honorable Judge J. Scott Duncan with Hayden Hudson prosecuting the case.