Suspect in spring break murder wasn't at scene, witnesses say

Published May 27, 1996|Updated Sep. 16, 2005

Witnesses say a 19-year-old mentally retarded man charged as an accessory to murder of a young Canadian tourist wasn't even at the crime scene.

Five of the eight teenagers who police say were at the shooting said in interviews and court documents that Donald Shoup wasn't there and that they don't know who he is, according to a story in the Orlando Sentinel on Sunday.

"He wasn't there. It didn't happen," said 17-year-old Brian George, who says he was standing next to the victim during the shooting. He is not one of the four boys charged with the crime.

Mark Fyke, 18, a spring breaker from Belleville, Ontario, was talking to his mother March 15 on a pay phone near the beach when he was attacked and fatally shot.

Shoup, whose IQ is 52, is charged with being a principal to first-degree murder after he tearfully confessed at 3 a.m. March 17 after seven hours of interrogation. He could face the death sentence if convicted.

Two 15-year-olds were also charged as accessories: Scott Russell Malone of Umatilla and William Marshal Schmidt of Astor. John O'Neal Rainey, 17, of Umatilla was charged as the alleged shooter.

Accounts from two of the eight teens weren't available, but the only suspect who told police that Shoup was a part of the shooting, Malone, now says he lied.

Che Guerrera, a friend of Fyke's who was with him after he was shot, picked Shoup out of a photo lineup. He did so, though, three days after Shoup's arrest, after the Ormond Beach man's picture had been splashed dozens of times across television screens and printed in newspapers.

Daytona Beach police said last week that they have a strong case against Shoup. They say he confessed and knew details that only someone who had been there could know.

Prosecutors, who wouldn't talk about the case, said in court documents that Shoup helped hatch the plot to rob Fyke, who was shot in the head as he struggled with attackers trying to take his wallet.

But Shoup's attorney and family say police tricked a confession from the teen. They say he has almost no memory and can't distinguish between a story he hears and what he really did.