Neptune Beach teen pleads guilty to killing grandmother

Kristina French found buried in backyard of family home Nov. 24, 2017

By Ashley Spicer - Reporter, anchor, Francine Frazier - Senior web producer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A teenager accused of killing his grandmother nearly two years ago pleaded guilty Wednesday to a charge of second-degree murder, one month before he was to go on trial.

Kristina FrenchMott was 15 when he was accused of killing 53-year-old Kristina French (pictured, right) and burying her in his father's backyard in Neptune Beach days before Thanksgiving 2017.

French had been taking care of Mott while Mott's father was on vacation.

The same day French's body was discovered, Mott was stopped driving her car near the Canadian border. Police said three guns and a bloody knife were found in the car with Mott.

Investigators issued a murder warrant for him four days later and Mott was extradited to Jacksonville on Dec. 5, 2017. He was charged with second-degree murder and has been in jail awaiting trial ever since.

Investigators said Mott confessed to killing French. According to police reports, Mott told a friend that he "shot a woman execution-style, leaving blood everywhere."

“About my grandmother just pretend she was never born okay, don’t ask questions you don’t want the answers to,” he told another friend about French’s disappearance, according to a police report.

CASE TIMELINE

  • 11/22/17: Mott & French reported missing
  • 11/22/17: Search warrant obtained for Mott's home
  • 11/24/17: French's body found buried in shallow grave
  • 11/24/17: Mott detained at Canadian border
  • 11/28/17: Murder warrant obtained for Mott's arrest
  • 12/05/17: Mott extradited to Jacksonville
  • 9/18/19: Mott pleads guilty
    

One longtime friend of Mott said that in the days leading up to the death, Mott was suicidal and mentioned breaking up with a girlfriend who had accused him of rape.

Mott, now 17, could spend between 15-40 years in prison. He is expected to be sentenced the third week of October.

Attorney Gene Nichols, who is not connected to the case, said the deal the public defender made for the state to impose 15-40 years instead of the usual minimum of 25 years was not surprising based on Mott's age.

"It’s going to be hard for the court to ignore the actions this young man took -- the actions to flee after work, even though he was a child at the time. He is still a child. They have to recognize he took some very severe actions and based upon what we know about his mental health and his history, the court is going to be very wary of not giving him a substantial sentence," Nichols said.

Nichols said one consideration for Mott’s sentence will be if he will be a threat to society when he is released. He said the public defender will likely have a plan in place to help Mott access services that will keep him from re-offending down the road.

DOCUMENT: Cryptic letter Mott wrote to dad
VIDEOS: Evidence in Mott case | Documents detail timeline
SLIDESHOW: Evidence photos in Mott case

'As parents, we failed him'

Mott's mother, Carrie Campbell-Mott, said she hopes the judge will take into consideration the unique situation her son was in and that he's taking responsibility for his actions.

"He's always said, 'I deserve to be here (in jail).' That's a big statement on who he is," Campbell-Mott said.

She pointed to a difficult home life, including the Department of Children and Families being called in to investigate more than once, and said her son did not have a previous history of violence. She said all of the doctors who have examined him have ruled that he is not a sociopath.

"As parents, we failed him. There was toxic co-parenting involved," Campbell-Mott said. "It's a tough situation all around. We've got to find a way to get through it."

Campbell-Mott, speaking to News4Jax by phone from Missour, where she lives, said her son graduated high school at 16 years old and is now taking college courses. She believes he can help others because he will stay in the juvenile justice system until he's 21 and then be transferred to adult prison.

"He will probably be an advocate for children," she said.

Campbell-Mott said she's taken the law school exam and wants her son to know that "he is my priority and I'm going to help him get through this."

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