Teen suspect's mother defends son

3 teens accused of carjacking, kidnapping, robbing 31-year-old man

By Tarik Minor - Anchor, I-TEAM reporter

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. - While three Atlantic Beach teenagers await their next court date on charges of carjacking, kidnapping and strong arm robbery of a man earlier this month, one of the suspect's mothers gave more insight into what happened.

Police said 14-year-olds Joseph Potter and Brasean Johnson and 15-year-old Destiny Monts carjacked a 31-year-old man following the Springing the Blues Festival on April 5. The man had fallen asleep in his vehicle with the door ajar.

Johnson's mother, Survalerie Harris, said her son is not the kind of teenager she'd expect to kidnap or carjack someone. She said one of the suspects that was with him that night is his cousin, and all are remorseful for the crime.

"He basically was in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong crime," Harris said.

Harris said her son didn't realize the seriousness of the crimes for which he's accused until his lockdown at a juvenile detention center.

"He doesn't understand how much trouble he's actually in," Harris said. "He said, 'Mom, what's going on? I was just riding with them.' He's calling me upset, worried, crying, all that."

Police said the teens all confessed to carjacking and kidnapping a Jacksonville man and violently beating him as they forced him to withdraw money from ATMs.

Harris said her son wouldn't have done something like this on his own, and she's hoping the justice system will give him a second chance.

"They were just trying to joyride, and I think it went to far," Harris said. "And I know there's some exaggeration on the victim's behalf. I'm sorry for what happened. I'm not trying to minimize it. But as far as him being afraid for his life, I don't think so."

"They threatened my life several times and said, 'If you try anything, I will kill you,'" the victim said earlier this week.

He said he was able to escape the car at a Walmart on Beach Boulevard. The man, who doesn't want to be identified, said he has contusions on his face from the beating.

Johnson's cousin is also coming to the teens' defense.

"He didnt' realize how serious it was when the events happened, and I think he'll learn his lesson," Gary Harris said. "He's never been to jail. Hopefully this is a wake-up call."

Johnson's mother said he's only allowed one phone call a day from the juvenile detention center and one visitor a week. She said she's unsure of when or if the teens will be released.

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