Murder warrant issued for Neptune Beach teen in grandmother's death

Logan Mott, 15, to be arraigned Wednesday morning in New York

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An arrest warrant for murder has been issued for the grandson of a 53-year-old woman whose remains were found last week in a shallow grave at a Neptune Beach home, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said Tuesday afternoon.

Logan Mott, 15, who was previously considered a person of interest in Kristina French's death, remains locked in a juvenile detention facility in Buffalo, New York.

Jacksonville police said authorities in Buffalo have been made aware of the warrant and are coordinating with them, along with the Neptune Beach Police Department and the state attorney's office, for Mott's extradition. 

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

Mott will be arraigned as a fugitive from Florida on the murder charge at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, a spokeswoman for the district attorney in Buffalo confirmed to News4Jax. The district attorney will speak to reporters after the hearing.

Mott was scheduled for a hearing Monday afternoon to talk about extradition possibilities, but that will now be discussed at Wednesday morning's hearing. He can waive or fight extradition back to Florida.

The state attorney's office told News4Jax on Tuesday the arrest warrant affidavit is still active, which mean 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 at some point.

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.

Strange case

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 News4Jax.

The 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 and 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.

Police have not yet said how she died. French's manner of death will not be made public until the state attorney's office unseals the arrest warrant affidavit, which likely won't happen until Mott is extradited back to Duval County.

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