The Cape Coral boy found delinquent of texting a violent threat is sentenced to probation.
As we’ve been reporting for the past year, Daniel Marquez sent private texts to a friend he says were a joke about a scam involving money and guns, followed by a reference to a school event.
Daniel was arrested, charged and found delinquent at his July trial of a second-degree felony. His case made national and international headlines, after the Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno posted the boy’s perp walk on Facebook three hours after the arrest.
Lee County Judge Carolyn Swift didn’t say how long Marquez would be on probation, but the conditions include a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew, a diversion class, an appearance before a neighborhood accountability board, and a 500-word essay defining a school threat and what he has learned from this case so far.
Judge withholds adjudication
What we learned today is the judge decided to withhold Daniel’s conviction.
“The court will withhold adjudication, even though I have previously adjudicated him based on the youth’s young age and the state attorney’s non-objection to a withhold order,” said Swift.
Daniel’s attorney Alex Saiz explains the significance of that decision.
“It matters for the purposes of a criminal record, and when things are sealable or not sealable,” he said. “But for the purposes, the court did find him delinquent in the trial, and then gave him the withhold adjudication afterwards.”
Prosecutor turns focus to Daniel’s father
Prosecutor Scott Miller then took aim at Daniel’s father, Derek. Miller asked the judge to punish him for a TikTok video he once posted of himself with his oldest son—not Daniel—lip-syncing to a song that included vulgar lyrics.
“Here is this father who is responsible for modeling and teaching appropriate social media responsibility, and communication,” said Miller. “And I believe what your honor is about to see is demonstrating that Derek Marquez would benefit from services teaching him better skills set to model and teach Mr. Daniel Marquez, social media responsibility.”
Both Derek and Saiz argued the TikTok video wasn’t relevant to Daniel’s case, and the prosecutor’s attempt to sanction the father was a clear violation of his constitutional rights.
“There’s no allegation that this is by itself, a criminal action. This isn’t a threat,” said Saiz. “He said words that we would rather he not say, which is at its core, what the First Amendment is designed to protect.”
The judge agreed and dismissed the request.
“Mr. Marquez, just like every parent, has their First Amendment rights,” said Swift.
Derek believes that the move by the prosecutor was payback for not backing down when it comes to defending his son.
“I feel that it was the prosecutor’s way of embarrassing me,” said Derek. “But I feel like I don’t get easily embarrassed or intimidated.”
State Attorney Amira Fox sat quietly in the courtroom while the hearing took place.
We asked for an interview, and she turned us down. She said she wasn’t sure if she wanted to comment on the case. Instead, she directed us to her communications team.
In the meantime, the Marquez family is appealing the verdict and has 30 days to file the paperwork.
You can watch our entire series here: