Manatee murder suspect demands trial move forward

BRADENTON - Against the advice of his public defender, a Manatee man made the rare move this morning of demanding his murder trial begin just four months after his arrest.

Jose Luis Marrero is charged with first-degree murder and armed robbery in the killing of 22-year-old Lauren Whitney Lichon. A mosquito control worker found her body on Feb. 5, 2009, in woods off Rye Wilderness Road.

Marrero, 34, refused to waive his right to a speedy trial in court this morning, even after his attorney, Assistant Public Defender Carolyn Schlemmer, told Circuit Judge Diana Moreland that she had not had time to fully investigate possible DNA evidence, as well as evidence that a different person may have shot Lichon.

Schlemmer told Moreland she is not "comfortable" moving forward with a trial so soon after her client's arrest, but Marrero insisted. Florida law states prosecutors must present evidence at trial within 175 days of a suspect's arrest on a felony charge, unless that person agrees to waive speedy trial.

Moreland questioned Marrero about his demand to go to trial, warning him that his attorney expressed concern there may be more evidence to exonerate him, given more time to investigate. Moreland said murder cases generally take a year or more of preparation before trial.

"When the state's case comes to a whole bunch of lies that I can prove wrong, then I am ready," Marrero responded.

Marrero is accused of shooting Lichon in the head in a car off Rye Wilderness Road, before dragging her body into woods there, according to Manatee County Sheriff's Office reports. Detectives believe the shooting may have been the result of a drug deal gone wrong.

Jury selection is underway for a trial that is expected to take much of the week.