MIAMI (AP) — Prosecutors have dropped the case against one of the suspects in a deadly mass shooting at a Miami-Dade County banquet hall because detectives improperly obtained a confession after he asked for an attorney.
The state attorney's office announced Wednesday that Warneric Buckner, 20, would not be formerly charged with three counts of first-degree murder and 20 counts of attempted murder in the May 30 shooting at El Mula Banquet Hall.
Buckner was believed to be one of the three masked men who got out of a stolen car and fired shots into the crowd gathered for a rap concert, killing three people.
Investigators said the shooting was the escalation of a feud between rival gangs.
Buckner was arrested in October and confessed he was a passenger in the SUV and “armed with a large firearm," according to an arrest report. He said he could not recall how many shots he fired, the report said.
Prosecutors Michael Von Zamft and Chris Flanagan wrote in a memo that while reviewing Buckner's recorded statement, they found he “initially invoked his right to counsel, and despite the invocation, homicide investigators with the Miami-Dade Police Department continued to conduct an interrogation."
The confession could be “subject to suppression” by a judge, and could be deemed “inadmissible evidence," the prosecutors' memo said.
“Ethically, the State of Florida is constrained from making any argument against suppression where the case law clearly mandates the exclusion of the statement,” they wrote.
The first arrest came in September, when Miami-Dade homicide detectives arrested the suspected lookout, Davonte Barnes, 22. He is still awaiting trial, the Miami Herald reported.
The case remains open and prosecutors will “consider pursuing charges at a later time as additional evidence is uncovered," the memo said.
Miami-Dade Police Director Alfredo “Freddy” Ramirez issued a statement saying he was “disappointed and saddened” to learn the confession was “deemed inadmissible.”
“We will continue investigating to ensure that justice is served on all that are responsible for this heinous crime,” Ramirez said.
Desmond Owens and Clayton Dillard III, both 26, and Shankquia Lechelle Peterson, 32, were killed in the shooting. Another 20 people were wounded in the shooting.
The Associated Press