Family troubles complicate Logan Mott's murder defense

15-year-old accused of killing his grandmother, taking off in her car

By Jim Piggott - Reporter , Lynnsey Gardner - Investigative reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - On the eve of a 15-year-old's hearing over whether he will be brought from New York to Florida to face a murder charge in the violent death of his grandmother, the I-TEAM has learned more about the boy's strained relationship with his father, a corrections lieutenant with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

According to the arrest warrant charging Logan Mott with murder, he fatally shot and stabbed his grandmother, Kristina French, and buried her in a shallow grave in the backyard of his home, then took off in her car. 

The New York attorney who is representing the teenager said the boy's father, Eric Mott, has a clear conflict of interest, not only because he works for the Sheriff's Office, but also because the victim was his mother.

In documents from the Florida Department of Children and Families obtained by News4Jax, Logan Mott told investigators that his father used "severe discipline" and even once, when the boy was 12, made him run until he vomited.

DCF was called twice to investigate the Mott family -- once after a call was placed by "school personnel" and another time when Eric Mott's ex-wife and Logan's mother, Carrie Campbell-Mott, called DCF to file a complaint during a bitter custody battle that lasted more than a decade.

The DCF investigator asked Neptune Beach authorities to document Logan's story that "his father spanked him in the past and has left heavy red marks on his body," but no marks were found on his upper body or neck, as the mother claimed. There were bruises around his waist, but that was near his diabetes pump.

Dominic Saraceno, the defense attorney hired by Carrie Campbell-Mott, said that despite the complexities, Eric Mott insists on being involved in his son's defense and wants to hire a Florida-based defense attorney for him.

"Mother and father have a bit of a strained relationship, and father wants to hire his own attorney in Jacksonville. The problem is that creates conflict issues," Saraceno said.

Eric Mott has not been seen in Buffalo, where Logan is being held after his capture Friday driving on the bridge to Canada, but his mother traveled from Missouri to be with her son at a hearing on Wednesday. It wasn't known if she will be back in court Friday morning for an extradition hearing.

If Logan Mott agrees to be returned to Florida to face charges, he could be back in Jacksonville in 10 days or less. If he fights extradition, it could take up to two months for him to be compelled to return.

Saraceno said he was the one who had to tell Logan Mott he had been charged with murder in his grandmother's death.

"He was visibly upset. Very upset," Saraceno said. 

"We haven't decided yet if we are going to continue to challenge the extradition or whether we're going to waive extradition," Saraceno said. "I think Logan needs a little bit of time to collect himself before he goes back into a whirlwind of a media frenzy back in Jacksonville. When he's here in Buffalo, he's got his mother by his side. I think that brings him some comfort."

Mott is being held at a juvenile detention facility in Erie County, New York. Saraceno said he is being housed with 15 others. He is not seeing a therapist, but is talking with a counselor.

A former nanny of Logan Mott told the Daily Mail that once,while she was babysitting, the boy woke up in the night when he heard a noise and came down the hallway "carrying a knife like you would carry a torch."

"The kind of knife you would use to skin a deer," Debbie Gallardo told the newspaper. "The blade was a good 15 or 16 inches long."

She told the Daily Mail that she was able to get Logan back into bed and told his father about the incident. She added that Mott allegedly kept a stash of knives under his bed.

Gallardo said the incident caused her to have nightmares, and she was not surprised when she heard that his grandmother's body was found and he was charged with murder.

Asked for a reaction to the nanny's information, Logan Mott's attorney said it was not surprising.

"I cannot confirm if it’s accurate, but he was an avid outdoorsman, so I would not be surprised, nor do I see anything wrong with it," Saraceno said.

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