Teen charged with killing grandmother being held in isolation cell

Arrest affidavit says Logan Mott, 15, shot grandmother, left in her car

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Logan Mott, the 15-year-old from Neptune Beach accused of shooting his grandmother to death and taking off in her car, will be held without bond in an isolation cell at the Duval County jail. News4Jax learned that his father, Eric Mott, a lieutenant at that facility, will be reassigned to ensure there is no inappropriate contact.

Mott is accused of killing his grandmother, Kristina French, a few days before Thanksgiving. He was flown back to Florida Tuesday to face charges of murder and auto theft.

While Mott had a private attorney in proceedings after his capture in Buffalo, New York, Public Defender Charlie Cofer stood with teen, who wore an orange jumpsuit as a high-profile inmate, Wednesday morning at his first appearance before a Jacksonville judge.

Cofer said he only had a brief conversation with the teenager before the 9 a.m. hearing.

UNCUT: Logan Mott's first appearance in Duval County courtroom

Mott's father was at the hearing, and quickly left the courtroom and would not talk when News4Jax tried to question him about his son and that he's accused of killing his mother. He made it clear he wants nothing to do with the media with an obscene gesture earlier this week when crews tried to approach him at his Neptune Beach home.

Last week, Mott's mother stressed to News4Jax in Buffalo that she was concerned about her son’s representation in Jacksonville and wanted to keep New York attorney Dominic Saraceno as his lawyer in Florida.

Cofer said he has been in touch with Mott's mother, and she appears to be satisfied with the using the public defender's office as her son's representation.

"I think so," Cofer said. "At this point, we are still working through that."

Both Cofer and Saraceno told News4Jax that they are working to see whether they could be co-council. 

Attorney Rhonda Peoples-Waters was in the courtroom Wednesday on a different case, but weighed in on Mott's case.

"What he is accused of didn't match up to what we saw briefly," she said.

Peoples-Waters added that, as a defense attorney, she hopes that a mental evaluation will take place right way to make sure the teen understands what is going on.

"They also need to be investigating to determine (whether) or not ... there were other persons involved," she said. "In the other evidence, phone records, anything to back up that he was not alone when this crime occurred."

Mott’s New York attorney suggested Mott’s father presents a conflict of interest in the case because it was his mother who was killed. Peoples-Waters said she does not see it that way.

"Based on what I know about the father, he was trying to fight very feverishly to get custody of his son," she said. "We also know that this is his son who is accused of this murder, so I think the father has just as much ties to make sure there is justice ... as anybody else"

Mott is due back in a courtroom Dec. 18 for his arraignment.

Mott's arrest warrants, saying Mott shot French and buried her in a shallow grave in his backyard, were released after he was booked in the Duval County, about 7 p.m. Tuesday.

His two arrest warrants -- one for grand theft auto and the other for murder -- contain nearly the same details, but according to a written arrest order, Mott has been charged with second-degree murder, which is a murder that was not premeditated or planned. 

DOCUMENTS: Court order for Mott’s arrest 
Murder arrest warrant for murder | Auto theft arrest warrant

Mott has been in custody since Nov. 24, when he was detained during a traffic stop on a bridge near the Canadian border after a warrant was issued for his arrest on suspicion of stealing his grandmother's car. Prosecutors said three firearms -- including two service weapons belonging to Mott's father -- and a bloody knife were found in his grandmother's car, which he had been driving at the time. 

According to one of the two arrest affidavits released Tuesday night, Mott shot his grandmother to death. Prosecutors in New York told a judge that Mott stabbed and shot her, but the document revealed her cause of death was a gunshot wound.

Investigators suspect Mott then buried her in a shallow grave in his backyard and took off in her Dodge Dart, according to his auto theft arrest warrant.

French was taking care of Mott while his father was on vacation. They were reported missing after Eric Mott returned Nov. 22 to find his home ransacked, and several guns and his mother's car gone. According to one of the newly released arrest warrants, "pain medicines were also missing."

The next day, the affidavit said, French's debit card was used on Thanksgiving at an ATM near Hanover, Pennsylvania, and surveillance video showed a male, whom police believe was Mott, "using the ATM and a vehicle matching the victim's car leaving the area."

On Nov. 24, police disclosed they had found a woman, later identified as French, concealed in a shallow grave at her son's home, and that her grandson was a person of interest in the case.  On Nov. 28, a judge signed the arrest warrant charging Mott with murder.

State Attorney Melissa Nelson released the following statement Tuesday evening: 

Almost two weeks after an initial missing persons case shifted to a murder investigation, Logan Mott is back in Duval County. Mott has been charged as an adult with second-degree murder and grand theft auto. 

"I’d like to thank the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Erie County District Attorney’s Office, Erie County Youth Services, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, Neptune Beach Police Department, Buffalo Police Department, and other law enforcement agencies along the East Coast that have assisted in bringing Mott back to Jacksonville. 

"We understand this is a case of great interest, but because it is pending we will not be providing further comment.”

About the Authors:

Ashley Harding joined the Channel 4 news team in March 2013 and reports every weekday for The Morning Show.

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.