Lee County Sheriff’s Office deputy explains arrest of Cape Coral 10-year-old under oath

Author: Céline McArthur
Published: Updated:

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.

Lee County Justice Center Complex, Fort Myers, Florida

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.

Deputy Tyler Mackereth photographed with Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno. Mackereth is one of the deputies who arrested Daniel Marquez.

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?”
Daniel: “Text.”
Detective Mackereth: “Not like social media or anything?”
Daniel: “No.”

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.

Excerpt from deposition of Lee County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Tyler Mackereth.

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?”

Mackereth: “No.”

The deposition of Deputy Tyler Mackereth reveals no official LCSO record of the conversation with the father of the boy who received the texts.

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.

Excerpt from deposition of Lee County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Tyler Mackereth.

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?”
Mackereth: “No.”
Saiz: “When he spoke to you orally, did he ever say he was going to commit an act of violence on Water Day?”
Mackereth: “No.”

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.”

“You want to teach kids right and wrong, but there’s an enormous difference between taking it to the next step and saying wrong equals criminal. That is not the law.” Harvard Law Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz weighs in on Lee County Sheriff’s Office handling of Daniel Marquez’s arrest.

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.

“It’s very difficult for anyone to know how to interpret a message that was never sent to them and was never meant for them,” said Saiz. “I don’t see any evidence that anyone was actually threatened or even felt threatened in this case.” Alex Saiz, Attorney for Daniel Marquez

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: celine.mcarthur@winknews.com.

There’s also a potentially game-changing development in Florida that could impact Daniel’s case. A similar case was tossed out.

Part 1: Exclusive: 10-year-old arrested, accused of threatening mass school shooting speaks out

Part 2Cape Coral 10-year-old accused of threatening a mass shooting officially charged

Part 3: 10-year-old accused of mass shooting threat declines plea deal, says not guilty

Part 4: Alan Dershowitz gives case analysis of SWFL 10-year-old accused of threatening mass shooting

Part 5: Law enforcement weighs in on 10-year-old accused of threatening mass shooting

Part 6: ‘She should be euthanized’; Experts weigh in on Lee sheriff’s commentary on suspects

Part 7: Family of 10-year-old charged with mass shooting threat requests DOJ investigation into LCSO

Part 8: Hear the last conversation LCSO had with Daniel Marquez, 10, before he was handcuffed

Part 9: More twists: Lawyer quits Daniel Marquez case; new text messages revealed

Part 10: New attorney for 5th grader accused of threatening mass school shooting discusses the case

Part 11: Could Sheriff Carmine Marceno be charged under Florida Statute used to arrest Daniel Marquez?

Part 12: Inappropriate vs. Threat: New twist in battle over Florida law following 10-year-old’s arrest by Lee County Sheriff’s Office


Daniel Marquez

More twists: Lawyer quits Daniel Marquez case; new text messages revealed

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 […]

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