ST. PETERSBURG — Huddled in a corner, the teenager cries and pleads and says, "Mom, Daddy, I'm sorry."
But in this newly released video, the voice of the sobbing child is confessing to an adult's crime — killing St. Petersburg police Officer David S. Crawford.
"I just started shooting," says Nicholas Lindsey, 16, in a recorded police interview that makes him come across as part killer, part frightened child.
The confession is key to the prosecution's case against Lindsey, who is accused of first-degree murder and has pleaded not guilty. The full video-recorded version of the confession was released for the first time this week to the St. Petersburg Times.
Lindsey's attorneys have asked Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Thane Covert to throw the confession out. Covert could rule on that request during a hearing today.
Lindsey was interviewed by St. Petersburg police on Feb. 22, one day after the shooting, and portions of that video-recorded session have been released previously. Those portions showed Lindsey's mother and father urging him to tell police exactly what happened in the shooting.
In the newly released portions of the video, which at times is hard to hear, Lindsey answered questions from Detectives Joe DeLuca and Gary Gibson.
Lindsey said in the interview that he was in downtown St. Petersburg trying to steal a white Dodge Neon near the AAA building at 800 Second Ave. S. At first, he told police about being with an accomplice.
But then officers told him that a witness saw only one shooter. He changed his story.
He said he acted alone. He said Crawford saw him near the car he was trying to steal, and "I was very scared. … I had the gun on me. I didn't want to go to jail. And I was really scared," he said, breaking into tears.
Lindsey said he had bought a gun for $140 about a week before, without test-firing it, and had it with him.
As to the gun, he said, "I thought it was on safety but it wasn't. I pulled it out." And he added: "I just started shooting. He reached for his gun."
Lindsey said, "I figured I had to do it because I don't want to die."
At that point in the interview with police, with his mother and father in the room, he said, "I'm so sorry. … Mom, Daddy, I'm sorry."
In an anguished voice, Lindsey said, "I just want to be able to see my family."
"Your family's right here right now," one of the officers said.
But if convicted of first-degree murder, Lindsey would probably not be going home anymore. The only permissible sentence for him then would be life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Lindsey's attorneys, Dyril Flanagan and Frank McDermott, are trying to prevent that from happening. In their motion to throw out Lindsey's confession, they refer to the portions of the videotape in which Lindsey's mother and father urge him to speak to police, saying such things as, "Son, do you want to go home?"
The video also shows his parents telling him the police have DNA and other evidence against him, saying "they got your clothes, they got your shoes, and they got video."
By saying these things, before police entered the interrogation room and informed Lindsey of his rights, the mother and father became "unwitting agents of law enforcement" by essentially making promises of leniency and getting him to confess, the motion argues. This violates established procedures that stem from the Supreme Court's Miranda warnings, the lawyers say.
Because of this motion, the full video interview was entered into court records. The Times reviewed it this week.
Defense attorneys also plan to ask today for a delay in the scheduled Dec. 12 trial, saying they need more time to prepare.
Curtis Krueger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8232.