Slaying Victim’s Son Ejected From Courtroom For Outburst
WILKES-BARRE — As he listened to a deputy coroner testify about the injuries his father suffered, Daniel Boote stood toward the back of the courtroom Thursday morning shaking his head.
Fred Boote, 58, died of multiple stab wounds and blunt-force trauma after being attacked during a robbery in his own home on Sept. 14. Testifying at a preliminary hearing Thursday morning, Luzerne County Deputy Coroner Dan Hughes described the bedroom where Boote was discovered as a “gruesome scene” — Boote had stabs wounds to the majority of his upper body, arms and head.
“You’re (expletive) Popi!,” son Daniel Boote, 34, shouted out after hearing the description. “You’re (expletive)! You’re whole family is (expletive)! I’ll kill you!”
Police escorted Daniel Boote from the courtroom but released him without filing charges. The attorney for Reynaldo Mercado — the man accused of murdering Fred Boote — said that she understood the emotion behind the outburst.
“I think it’s expected for family members to be upset,” attorney Allyson Kacmarski said. “I mean, it is a very serious and upsetting matter.”
Prosecutors have painted a picture of a gruesome murder committed by Mercado, 31, as well as a 14-year-old girl whose mother used to date Fred Boote. The charges allege the girl got Fred Boote to let her into his home at 14 Donald Court and then Mercado slipped in behind her, attacking Fred Boote with a lamp while the teen fetched a kitchen knife.
Mercado then plunged the knife into Fred Boote repeatedly before dousing the body in gasoline in an attempt to destroy the evidence, prosecutors say. The pair made off with Fred Boote’s cellphone and about $25 in cash, according to police.
“Mr. Boote was a victim of a ruthless, brutal murder, and we remain committed to securing justice for the family and holding those responsible accountable for his death,” Assistant District Attorney Tony Ross said.
The key evidence against both defendants is statements police say they made admitting to the planned robbery and murder.
Police say Mercado admitted bashing Fred Boote over the head with a lamp and then stabbing him with a knife the girl gave him from the kitchen. The girl, however, maintained she only got the knife because she wanted to stop Mercado from beating Boote, police say.
Prosecutors charged the girl with second-degree murder, an offense that alleges she participated in committing a felony crime that led to Boote’s death. She is also charged with burglary, arson, theft and several counts of criminal conspiracy.
Although she is charged as an adult, The Citizens’ Voice is not naming her because of her age.
After appearing in court Thursday, the girl waived her right to a preliminary hearing, allowing all charges to move forward to county court for prosecution.
Her mother, Carmen Cardy, declined to speak at length as she left court.
“She is a very good kid,” Cardy said.
During Mercado’s hearing, Kacmarski argued against the prosecution’s case, claiming there was insufficient evidence of his guilt. She also challenged Mercado being charged with interfering with the custody of a child, saying Cardy never contacted the police to report she had left with Mercado, with whom the family was living after being kicked out of Boote’s home last summer.
“There was never any concern that these two individuals had left the house,” Kacmarski said.
Ross countered that Mercado’s own statement established the case against him. He also noted that Cardy did express concern about the teen after she was contacted by police, who then issued an alert to find her.
She and Mercado were found on Sept. 15 at Mercado’s uncle’s home in West New York, New Jersey.
Magisterial District Judge Rick Cronauer ruled that Mercado will stand trial on all charges. Mercado was remanded to the Luzerne County Correctional Facility, where he will be held without bail as he awaits trial.
He declined to comment as police escorted him out of court.