LARGO — Nicholas Lindsey's confession that he shot and killed St. Petersburg police Officer David S. Crawford should be thrown out, defense attorney Dyril Flanagan said Wednesday.
Flanagan said at a pretrial hearing that he has filed a motion to suppress the 16-year-old's confession to St. Petersburg police.
Police say Crawford stopped Lindsey in February as the officer investigated a report of a suspicious person. The boy is accused of pulling out a handgun he bought for $140 and fatally shooting Crawford.
Lindsey was arrested Feb. 22 near his home at Citrus Grove Apartments on 15th Street S, after a widespread manhunt through much of St. Petersburg.
The motion filed this week says Lindsey "was arrested at gun point and placed in handcuffs in the back of a police car. At no time at the scene of the arrest or for several hours after the arrest at the police station was defendant advised of his Miranda rights."
The motion says Lindsey, on the night of his confession, "was in the interview room for a total of approximately four and a half hours, the majority of which was defendant being interrogated without counsel or in the presence of his parents."
The state has given the defense a video of Lindsey's confession, which runs about 55 minutes. It shows police reading Lindsey the familiar Miranda rights warning.
But the motion asserts that this came "several hours after his custody and interrogation began."
Pinellas-Pasco Chief Assistant State Attorney Bruce Bartlett, in an interview after the hearing, disputed that version of events. Lindsey was not interrogated by officers before being read his rights, he said.
It's true Lindsey waited at the police station, Bartlett said, and some officers made "short small talk" with him. But the delay was because officers were working to assemble information and some of the people associated with the case, before talking to Lindsey.
"That would be doing your homework, so to speak, before you actually go start your interrogation," Bartlett said.
He pointed out that Lindsey's parents did come to the station, and the video shows them as well as Lindsey. His parents encouraged him to tell officers what happened on the night of the shooting.
A hearing to discuss the confession is tentatively set for Nov. 21, but attorneys will discuss holding it earlier. Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Thane Covert said an earlier date would be better because the trial is scheduled for December.
Bartlett said the state will still have a case against Lindsey if the confession is thrown out.
There is additional evidence, he said, such as witnesses who saw Lindsey or someone matching his description near the scene at the time of the shooting; the discovery of a sandal believed to be Lindsey's near the scene; DNA linking Lindsey to a car that was part of Officer Crawford's investigation on the night of the shooting; and more. But he called it "much more difficult case to prosecute without his confession."
Bartlett said the quicker schedule might help Crawford's family achieve some closure more quickly, and he also added that criminal cases "are not like wine and cheese" — they don't get better with age.
Crawford was the third St. Petersburg police officer shot in a month, and those three were the first killed in the line of duty in 30 years.
In addition to Flanagan, attorney Frank McDermott recently signed on as co-counsel for the defense.
Reach Curtis Krueger at (727) 893-8232 or [email protected]