Prosecutors: 15-Year-Old Shot, Stabbed Grandmother In Neptune Beach

Nov 29, 2017

A 53-year-old woman whose remains were found last week in a shallow grave at a Neptune Beach home was shot and stabbed multiple times by her grandson, according to prosecutors in Buffalo, New York.

Logan Mott, 15, who was previously considered a person of interest in Kristina French's death, was charged Tuesday with her murder and was arraigned on the charge Wednesday in Buffalo.

Mott has been detained in a juvenile facility in Buffalo since he was stopped by Customs and Border Patrol agents driving the wrong way on a bridge to Canada.

Prosecutors said at Wednesday's hearing that three firearms and a bloody knife were found in French's car, which Mott was driving when he was caught by authorities. The guns found include the weapon used in French's murder and were taken from the home of Mott's father, authorities told our News4Jax partner.

"We anticipated it. He will fight the charges in Florida," Mott's New York attorney, Dominic Saraceno, said in a statement.

Mott is being held without bail, because the court says he is considered a flight risk.

The lead prosecutor said in a news conference after the hearing that he released certain details of the crime during the hearing, because he wanted to be sure that the judge would order Mott to remain in custody.

Jacksonville police, the Neptune Beach Police Department and the state attorney's office are working with New York authorities for Mott's extradition.

He will have an extradition hearing at 9:30 a.m. Friday. He can waive or fight extradition back to Florida. New York prosecutors said fighting extradition would merely be a delay tactic, because Mott will eventually be returned to Florida, regardless.

The state attorney's office told News4Jax on Tuesday that the arrest warrant affidavit is still active, which means it has not yet been served to Mott. It's possible it won't be formally served until after he's extradited back to Florida. That transfer will require Mott to obtain a new legal team in Florida.

The ninth-grader was detained Friday night in New York, trying to cross into Canada, authorities said, after a warrant was issued for his arrest on suspicion of stealing his grandmother's car.

Mott's mother said she has talked to her son in detention, but she would not say what the conversation was about.

The car that Mott is accused of driving to New York is being processed and will also be returned to Jacksonville.

AUDIO: Mott 911 Call

Saraceno said his client adamantly denies having anything to do with French's death.

How much will Mott's age factor into trial?

With the charge of murder, the 15-year-old will be tried as an adult.

But Jacksonville attorney Randy Reep, who is unaffiliated with the case, said Mott's age will likely still play a role during his trial and potential sentencing.

"This is one of those newer cases where, from start to finish, the fact that he is so young will be a consideration throughout the entire trial," Reep told News4Jax on Tuesday.

In recent years, the U.S. and Florida Supreme Courts have both ruled against life sentences for juveniles. Reep said scientific research contributed to those decisions.

"Young, particularly males, their brain development is actually problematic for their decision making, which is why the Florida Supreme Court has said we need to do sentencing different for people of such a young age," he said.

Mott’s legal team may use that young age in his defense. If he is convicted, his age could prevent him from spending the rest of his life behind bars.

But Reep said that doesn't mean Mott will get off easy if he is convicted. He pointed out the significance of a murder charge, saying it's still considered the most heinous crime in the justice system -- regardless of age.

Mott and French were reported missing Wednesday after they didn't show up at Jacksonville International Airport to pick up Mott's father.

French's son is a Jacksonville Sheriff's Office corrections lieutenant, sources told our News4Jax partner.

Mott's father returned to find the family's Seagate Avenue home ransacked, his son and his mother gone and their wallets missing, along with several guns, according to Mott's mother, Carrie Campbell-Mott.

Police said Friday that the gun safe appeared to have been damaged, and that there was evidence of "criminal violence" inside the home.

Campbell-Mott said her son's father got a text from French on Tuesday, confirming plans to pick him up at the airport.

“We don't know for certain if that was her or not at this point,” she said.

Neither French nor Mott had been at work or school Monday or Tuesday, Campbell-Mott said.

On Friday afternoon, at the first news conference on the case, police disclosed that Mott and a car that looked like French's Dodge Dart had been spotted Thursday in Pennsylvania.

They dug up French's remains in the backyard on Friday afternoon, and Mott was found in New York later that night.

Authorities announced Monday morning that the remains of the woman found buried in the backyard of the Seagate Avenue home had been positively identified by the medical examiner as French.