LARGO — A judge on Wednesday urged attorneys to keep preparing for a Dec. 12 trial date for Nicholas Lindsey, the teenager accused of murdering St. Petersburg Police Officer David S. Crawford.
That would amount to lightning speed in the court system. Murder cases in Pinellas County often take two years or more to go to trial. Crawford was shot Feb. 21, so a Dec. 12 trial would be less than 10 months later.
Defense attorney Dyril Flanagan said during Wednesday's court hearing he was not sure he could be ready so soon. He said in preparing for trial he wants to make use of a mental health expert, and possibly a DNA expert and private investigator, which could take time.
Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Thane Covert listened to comments from Flanagan and prosecutors and said that for now the Dec. 12 date stands.
"I'm still trying to meet this trial date," Covert said.
Flanagan said afterward that he will proceed as though the trial will occur in December, but he also said he would formally ask for a delay if he believes his client can't get a fair trial.
He said he is still in the process of gathering evidence.
Frank McDermott, another defense attorney, said it's important to get a mental health evaluation to determine, among other things, whether Lindsey had the capacity to plan the murder of Crawford. As he pointed out, Lindsey is accused of premeditated murder.
Pinellas-Pasco Chief Assistant State Attorney Bruce Bartlett said prosecutors would work to be ready. One issue, he said, is that authorities have had difficulty finding a homeless man who witnessed the shooting.
After the hearing, Bartlett described the man as a significant but not crucial witness for the trial. "He's not a deal-breaker, but he's very important," Bartlett said.
Police said Crawford was shot as he investigated a complaint about a suspicious person. Lindsey is accused of pulling out a semiautomatic weapon and shooting four times.
Lindsey was picked up the next day. Police say Lindsey at first denied involvement, then admitted to the killing.
Flanagan wants the confession thrown out. His motion says Lindsey "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."
Prosecutors say Lindsey was not under questioning for the entire time.
Curtis Krueger can be reached at (727) 893-8232 or firstname.lastname@example.org.