It’s been nearly a year since video of a Cape Coral boy perp-walked by the Lee County Sheriff’s Office sparked national and international attention, and the case isn’t over.
Daniel Marquez was back in court with his family today. His attorney—via Zoom—requested a hearing to present his motion to dismiss the charge. That delays any decision for Daniel for about a month.
While the judge agreed on the hearing, she made it clear she was not happy with how long this process is taking.
“You need to get that motion filed though. There have been enough problems with not getting things done timely in this case,” said Lee County Circuit Judge Carolyn Swift.
In the meantime, serious questions remain about what exactly led to the boy’s arrest.
WINK News Investigates Reporter Céline McArthur has been leading our groundbreaking coverage.
She has new details about Daniel Marquez’s arrest by the Lee County Sheriff’s Office that could impact past and future arrests of children in Lee County.
It’s been 11 months since Sheriff Carmine Marceno, or anyone else at LCSO, would answer our questions surrounding Daniel’s arrest. However, in a WINK News exclusive, you’ll hear what one of the arresting deputies had to say about that day.
This is the transcript of Deputy Tyler Mackereth’s sworn testimony in the criminal case against Daniel Marquez.
On May 28, 2022, Mackereth and his supervisor, Youth Services Investigations Unit Sergeant John Armato, arrested Daniel at his home.
In a WINK News exclusive, we brought you the audio recording of their conversation with Daniel minutes before they handcuffed him. Mackereth asked Daniel to go through the texts he sent to his 10-year-old friend. Those texts included pictures of money, guns and the words, “get ready for water day.”
Daniel: “It was like, just a joke that I scammed someone for a lot of money. And then I said I thought like, guns with it. It was just a joke, and I didn’t mean it to be… seriously.”
Detective Mackereth: “So, um, would you send it via text?”
Detective Mackereth: “Not like social media or anything?”
The father of the boy Daniel was texting alerted law enforcement after he saw his son’s phone. Daniel’s attorney Alex Saiz read through the deposition with me. In it, he asks Mackereth three times who from LCSO spoke to that man or his son. As the deposition reveals, the detective’s answers appeared to vary.
Mackereth: “I’m trying to think back. I believe we talked to the father of the complainant, or the complainant about, hey, what — what are these texts about?”
The second time:
Saiz: “So at this point when you spoke to the original complainant, did you speak to the father or did you speak to the child?”
Mackereth: “I want to say it was the father.”
The third time, the deputy reveals his conversation with the father, who remains unidentified by LCSO, was a quick phone call. Nothing in person.
Saiz: “And what, if anything, did the father tell you about the text messages and his reaction?”
Mackereth: “It was just a quick, you know, hey, my son received these texts. They’re inappropriate. And we need to have it investigated, so we did.”
Saiz: “Did any — did anyone speak to the child who received the text messages to know — understand what his interpretation of the messages were?”
Mackereth: “Not that I recall, no.”
Mackereth also admits there’s no official report on that conversation.
Saiz: “Did you ever take a sworn statement or the original complainant in this case?”
Mackereth: “No, sir.”
Saiz: “Okay. Did you take anything, either written or recorded?”
Per Mackereth, here’s what we know. That boy’s father called the texts “inappropriate.” The deputy does not know how the man’s son interpreted those texts. And Daniel told police—in tears—it was a joke to his friend. With that laid out, Saiz then asks Mackereth how he came to the conclusion this was a felony act of electronic or written threats to kill, do bodily injury, or conduct a mass shooting or an act of terrorism.
Mackereth: “Just the — because the fact that there was pictures of firearms and then a quick reply of saying get ready for Water Day. Putting those two closely together in that context made me believe there was a threat there.”
Saiz: “Did he ever say he was going to bring a gun to school?”
Mackereth: “Not written out in text, no.”
Saiz: “Okay. Did he ever say whether he was going to commit any act of violence at Water Day?”
Mackereth: “Once again, not written in text.”
Saiz: Okay. “When you then interviewed Daniel, did he say orally to you that he was going to shoot anybody at the school on Water Day?”
Saiz: “When he spoke to you orally, did he ever say he was going to commit an act of violence on Water Day?”
Civil Rights Attorney Alan Dershowitz, who does not represent Daniel, disagrees with Mackereth’s and Sheriff Marceno’s belief the texts alone warranted the arrest.
In our last interview in June of 2022, Marceno told me, “Guns, get ready for water day. That is a threat.”
“What is the threat? It’s not at all clear,” says Dershowitz. He adds, “A 10-year-old telling a joke to another 10-year-old is simply not a crime.”
Saiz also says Mackereth and Sheriff Marceno weren’t the recipients of the private texts from one ten-year-old to another. Despite what they believe, they can’t be the complainants in this case.
The Motion to Dismiss hearing is scheduled to take place in June, the day before classes end for Daniel. We will be there.
In the meantime, the U.S. Department of Justice wants to know if there are more cases like Daniel’s. If your child or loved one was arrested under that law, 836.10, email me at: email@example.com.
For nearly seven months, a Cape Coral family has waited to prove their son’s innocence. At the age of ten, Daniel Marquez was charged with threatening violence at his elementary school during Memorial Day weekend. Hours after that arrest, video of the boy was posted by the Lee County Sheriff’s Office on Facebook, with commentary […]
It’s a frightening thought: your child taken away in handcuffs and charged with a felony for texting a joke to a friend. That’s what Daniel Marquez says happened to him at the end of 5th grade. While his family is fighting the charges in court, we dig into the Florida law used to arrest at […]
Daniel Marquez has become a household name, and for one of the worst reasons. The 10-year-old is accused of threatening violence at his school. Daniel told the Lee County Sheriff’s Office and WINK News he never made a threat—real or fake. He said the text he sent to a friend was only a joke. The […]
A ten-year-old boy charged with threatening a mass shooting at his Cape Coral elementary school says he’s not guilty, and his family said they are ready to fight the charges. As Daniel Marquez and his family approached the courtroom Monday morning, they were offered a plea deal to avoid trial: a court diversion program. Typically, […]