Out-of-town attorneys hired for teen accused of killing parents

Aerial: Golden Gate Estates shooting

Alex Crain charged in shooting death of ...

— The family of Alex Crain has retained attorneys from Miami and Tampa to defend the 14-year-old accused of slaying his parents.

Brian Bieber, a criminal defense attorney in Miami, will work together with Mark Rankin, a former federal public defender now working for a Tampa firm.

Reached on Monday, both attorneys said they had been retained by unnamed family members of the boy, who was arrested Thursday on a pair of second-degree murder charges.

Collier County detectives say Alex shot and killed his parents, Thomas and Kelly Crain, in their Golden Gate Estates home. The victims’ bodies were discovered in the Crains’ master bedroom on Thursday morning, shortly after dispatchers received a 911 call from the home.

In a court appearance on Friday, Alex wept as he stood before a judge. He remains in juvenile custody in Collier County, where both attorneys recently met with him.

“This is obviously a very traumatic event, and as everyone could see by his appearance on Friday, he’s a very young, emotional, scared little boy,” Rankin said.

Bieber said Alex’s family remains numb from the shooting.

“We are dealing with all of the issues resulting in the wake of this horrific tragedy,” he said. “Alex is a fine young man, an excellent student in school and no one would expect anything even remotely close to this happening.”

Formal charges have yet to be filed in the case. Alex can be tried as an adult, a move that would bring stiffer penalties upon conviction or plea, or he can be tried as a juvenile.

The teenager’s case presents a unique situation for prosecutors, as the Crain family is both the aggrieved party and family of the accused. Bieber said the Crains are supportive of Alex and seek a “just and proper result” to the case.

“We hope this case will be tried as a juvenile case, because we think that would be appropriate,” Rankin said.

Bieber recently defended a 13-year-old boy in a high-profile attempted murder case out of Miami. A juvenile judge sentenced Marko Lazovic to six years of probation in Nov. 2009 for a knife attack on his friend’s mother, an assault fueled by his friend’s urging.

Monday, Bieber and Rankin reserved comment on a possible defense for Alex, saying they needed more time to look at the facts of the case.

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