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10-year-old pleads not guilty to school threat

Posted at 6:54 PM, Jul 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-11 19:06:31-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The 10-year-old whose face and name became nationally known after the Lee County Sheriff released his arrest video online tells a judge he's not guilty of threatening a school mass shooting.

That came moments after a family spokesperson tells FOX 4 he rejected a plea offer.

A family spokesperson says they rejected the state attorney's offer for the boy to go to a diversion program instead of trial.

The boy's not guilty plea comes weeks after this late May now *viral arrest video was released online.

The Lee County Sheriff's Office says not too long after the Uvalde shooting, the boy referenced a school field day at Patriot Elementary School in Cape Coral. That's what they say when he sent a text saying "get ready for water day" that included pictures of guns and money.

Derek Marquez is the boy's father.

"There was never a threat made. He never threatened to hurt or injure anyone," Marquez says.

Outside of the courtroom, the boy's dad continued to claim his son never made a threat.

"Children say things that don't make sense."

Marquez says that means his son was fictiously claiming that he'd get a hold of a "bazillion dollars" and buy guns.

On Monday, Marquez also claimed LCSO deputies had their own interpretation when they looked through the texts.

"And actually...they laughed about it a little but when reading the text messages cause it was an absurd number," Marquez says.

By the family's side, Letitia Kim of The Foundation Against Tolerance And Racism (FAIR) says she believes releasing the arrest video violated the 10-year-old's rights.

"Do not put ten-year-old children through this absurd, ridiculous ordeal for your own political agenda," Kim said on Monday.

We reached out to the Lee County Sheriff's Office following the not guilty plea.

The agency referenced a statement from Sheriff Carmine Marceno issued to FOX 4 last week, saying in part:

"...Any threats made, real or fake, will be immediately investigated and taken seriously."

Both Kim and Marquez claim deputies knew the images in the message came from a Google search.

The state attorney's office says they cannot comment on this case because it's active and involves a juvenile.

A court date's been set for August 13th.

Kim says there are plans to make a motion to dismiss the case, but she was not sure when it would be filed.