BUFFALO, N.Y. – The 15-year-old boy accused of killing his grandmother at his Neptune Beach home will remain in a New York detention facility a few more days as a defense attorney mulls over whether or not to fight attempts to extradite him to Florida to face charges.
The body of 53-year-old Kristina French was wrapped in plastic and tape when it was found late last week buried in a shallow grave in the yard of a home where Logan Mott lived with his father, according to documents obtained by the I-TEAM.
Her body was discovered the same day the teenager was stopped driving the woman's car on a bridge to Canada, according to court records.
After a Wednesday morning arraignment hearing for Mott in Buffalo, New York, the arrest warrant was read in court, detailing that French was shot and stabbed multiple times by her grandson and that three guns and a bloody knife were found in her car, which Mott was driving when he was caught by authorities. The guns found, including the weapon used to kill French, were taken from the home of Mott's father, authorities said.
"Anytime you kill anyone, it’s tragic. But ... allegedly to kill your grandmother, that takes it to another level," said District Attorney John Flynn of Erie County, New York.
Mott's New York defense attorney, Dominic Saraceno, said information in an arrest warrant proves nothing.
"It doesn't prove anything," Saraceno said after the hearing. "There is no motive. No confession. There could be dozens of alternative theories on what happened."
Saraceno asked for a delay, and the extradition hearing was postponed to 9:30 a.m. Friday. He said he needs time to talk to his client to let him decide if he wants to go back.
"We are talking about a 15-year-old boy being charged with the most serious charge in the penal code," Saraceno said. "We have to do our due diligence and follow the proper procedures and make sure everything has been properly done."
New York prosecutors said fighting extradition would merely be a delay tactic because Mott will eventually be returned to Florida, regardless. But if the defense fights extradition, the governors from both states have to get involved, and that could take up to 60 days.
"It gives the defense more time to think about how they want to handle the case," Flynn said after Wednesday morning's hearing. "It will obviously delay the proceedings in Florida because, if the young man is returned to Florida within 10 days, they'll arraign him down there, put him before the grand jury down there and the case will be moving forward in Florida. If you keep him up here for 60 days, that will delay the trial in Florida by two months."
Mott's mother, Carrie Campbell-Mott, who lives in Missouri, arrived in New York on Tuesday. She told News4Jax that she is very concerned and cannot believe her son was involved in his grandmother's murder.
Mott‘s father, who is a lieutenant in the corrections division of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, did not travel to Buffalo, but had spoken to his son’s attorney.
"He is clearly upset. The father's in the conflicted situation where his son is accused of killing his mother," Saraceno said, adding that if he remains Mott's attorney in Florida, he would ask that the trial be moved out of Jacksonville due to Eric Mott's employment with the county.
Jacksonville police, the Neptune Beach Police Department and representatives of the state attorney's office are not in New York, but are working with authorities toward Mott's extradition.
The state attorney's office told News4Jax on Tuesday that the arrest warrant affidavit is still active, which means 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.
The ninth-grader was detained Friday night in New York while he was trying to cross into Canada, authorities said, after a warrant was issued for his arrest on suspicion of stealing his grandmother's car. At that time, Jacksonville police described Mott as a person of interest in French's death. On Tuesday, a judge signed an arrest warrant charging him with murder.
The car that Mott is accused of driving to New York is being processed and will also be returned to Jacksonville at some point.
Missing persons case becomes murder investigation
Mott and French were reported missing Wednesday after they didn't show up at Jacksonville International Airport to pick up Mott's father, who sources said is a Jacksonville Sheriff's Office corrections lieutenant.
Mott's father returned to find the family's Seagate Avenue home ransacked, his son and his mother gone, and their wallets and several guns missing.
"I know I've had a burglary," Eric Mott told a 911 operator. "We've just gotten back from vacation, my mom was supposed to pick me up from the airport and my diabetic son are missing. ... We Ubered home to find everything was opened up, and as we looked around some more, things are just getting weirder and weirder."
LISTEN: Logan Mott's father calls 911
He also told the 911 operator it was a "pretty concerning thing," because his son is diabetic.
According to the missing persons report, Eric Mott's three firearms were stolen -- two Glock .40-caliber semiautomatics, which were JSO-issued, and a Smith & Wesson .38-caliber revolver.
In the 911 call, Eric Mott also noted the gun safe was forced open and "the keypad was ripped off."
On Friday afternoon, at the first news conference on the case, police said that there was evidence of "criminal violence" inside the home. Police also 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.
According to a call for service log, Neptune Beach police were called to the home four other times since 2014. One was a call to assist a Department of Children and Families worker who was investigating Eric Mott for alleged child abuse. Eric Mott claimed his ex-wife was making up stories that he abused his son, and the case was eventually dismissed.
What contents of arrest report reveals; what it doesn't
While French's apparent cause of death was revealed in Mott's arrest warrant, it did not give any indication as to why Mott would bring the murder weapon and other guns with him, nor any possible motive.
News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said a knife is usually used in a crime of passion against someone someone the killer knows.
Smith also pointed out that it is uncommon for two different murder weapons to be used in a murder.
"Maybe one wasn't as effective as they wanted (it) to be, so they went to another weapon," Smith said.
Whether Mott was trying to get away with murder is also the subject of speculation.
"Whenever you are dealing with a murder scene, there will always be mistakes, sometimes multiple mistakes that are made," Smith said. "But you also have to remember you are dealing with a 15-year-old -- someone who is not fully developed."
Smith said detectives and evidence technicians would have carefully processed the family home and the site where French was buried, and described the car Mott was driving as an additional crime scene.
"What they are going to do is Nibin test the weapon -- test fire it -- match up the serrations with the test fire and match up the bullets at the crime scene, and I'm sure they'll test the knife," Smith said.
The answer as to a possible motive may be found in Mott's private communications with his family and his activity on social media. His Instagram and Snapchat accounts have been deactivated, but his online history is being reviewed by police.
There are also questions about the timeline of French's death, with more than 48 hours of of Mott and French's activity unaccounted for.
Campbell-Mott said she talked to her son on the phone Sunday, Nov. 19, but the two were not reported missing until Mott's father came home on Wednesday. The mother said Mott's father got a text from French on Tuesday, confirming plans to pick him up at the airport even though neither French nor Mott had been at work or school Monday or Tuesday.
“We don't know for certain if that was her or not at this point,” Campbell-Mott told News4Jax.
Smith said there was plenty of time for someone to bury French's body and attempt to clean up evidence.