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Man accused of killing Nassau County deputy pleads not guilty to murder

Patrick McDowell charged with first-degree murder of law enforcement officer

The man accused of killing Nassau County Deputy Joshua Moyers during a traffic stop last month entered a not guilty plea via video conference Thursday morning during his arraignment on a first-degree murder charge.

The man accused of killing Nassau County Deputy Joshua Moyers during a traffic stop last month entered a not guilty plea via video conference Thursday morning during his arraignment on a first-degree murder charge.

Patrick McDowell also faces a charge of injuring a police dog and eight counts of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer.

McDowell was indicted by a grand jury earlier this month on a charge of first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer. He was arrested on the fifth day of a manhunt in western Nassau County and was treated for gunshot wounds and dog bites at UF Health Jacksonville before being booked into jail.

Patrick McDowell appears via video conference from the Duval County jail for his arraignment. (WJXT)

He is being held without bond in Duval County and appeared with his attorney via video conference from the Duval County jail on Thursday.

Breiana Tole, who is accused of driving to the sports complex where McDowell was hiding out in an attempt to get him out of the area and escape arrest, pleaded not guilty Thursday to felony accessory after the fact charges.

Breiana Tole appears for arraignment on felony accessory after the fact charges in Nassau County. (WJXT)

The judge set the next court appearance for both McDowell and Tole for Jan. 6.

The prosecutor said Thursday that Tole faces 21 months to 30 years in state prison if she is convicted as an accessory after the fact to capital murder.

When she announced McDowell’s indictment this month, State Attorney Melissa Nelson said the state intends to seek the death penalty if he is convicted.

Criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor John Rockwell, who is not connected to the case, said the next step is investigating the circumstances of the case.

“So for his team, they’re probably getting in place a psychologist to evaluate him to look at his state of mind at the time that the incident happened,” Rockwell said.

He says the defense will likely hire an expert to look into McDowell’s past, including his history as a Marine.

After Thursday’s hearing, McDowell was compelled by the court to provide a DNA sample.

“So that the state can then take that and compare it against any known profiles to find out whether or not it’s a match,” Rockwell said.

RELATED: Timeline of events following shooting of Deputy Joshua Moyers, leading to arrest of Patrick McDowell | Deputy’s family thanks law enforcement, community for ‘outpouring of love’ | Fallen deputy’s lasting lesson: Wear kindness like a badge of honor

Before pulling over for Moyers on Sandy Ford Road on Sept. 24, McDowell told a passenger in his van: “It’s either him or me.” That passenger was not Tole but another woman.

Moyers was shot twice with a handgun. The 29-year-old engaged to be married died of his injuries two days later.

According to Sheriff Bill Leeper, McDowell’s gunshot wounds were suffered early in the manhunt. At one point he was found by a Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office K-9 and shot the dog -- which survived. Leeper said when McDowell fired on the K-9 with a rifle, deputies returned fire and later learned they had wounded McDowell.


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