Posted on Mon, Dec. 12, 2005
Suspect vowed to make parents pay
Christopher Sutton may have been planning to kill his parents since
1996, according to court documents released by prosecutors last week
BY SUSANNAH A. NESMITH
Kopp said he didn't have a choice.
Christopher Sutton told him he would kill Kopp
and his small son if he didn't kill Sutton's parents, according to
court records released Friday in the murder case against both men.
''Why did you shoot Christopher's parents?''
Miami-Dade Detective Larry Belyeu asked Kopp the day he was
arrested. 'Because my life was in Chris' hands. He told me he'd kill
my son if I did not. And me,'' Kopp responded.
Kopp, 22, and Sutton, 26, each face
first-degree murder charges in the death of Sutton's mother, Susan
Sutton, and attempted murder charges in the wounding of his father,
John. John Sutton, a prominent South Miami attorney, lost his sight
after being shot in the face inside the couple's Coral Gables home.
Kopp and Sutton remain in jail without bond
following their arrests last spring.
The documents released Friday paint a fuller
picture of the August 2004 shooting.
Sutton had been telling people for years, since
at least 1996, that he would ''make his parents pay'' for sending
him as a teenager to a controversial behavior modification school in
The Suttons sent Christopher to the Paradise
Cove program before he turned 18 and got a judge in Miami to
continue his commitment so he was unable to leave when he became an
A counselor at the program, which has since
closed, told police Sutton was angry when he learned he wasn't
getting out when he turned 18.
Another student who attended the school with
Sutton told police he remembered Sutton saying his parents would
have to pay because ``they took two years of his life.''
It's unclear exactly when Sutton hatched the
plan to kill his parents. Police talked to several people who said
Susan Sutton told them he had come up with a written plan to kill
her while at the program.
Kopp told police that the plan to shoot the
Suttons came from Christopher and that the two discussed it for
about a month before Kopp broke into the Suttons' home on Aug. 22,
Kopp drew detectives a map of the house and
said he went in through a sliding glass door left open by Sutton.
Sutton and his girlfriend had dinner with his parents the night of
the shooting. They left in time to make a 10 p.m. movie, records
Kopp said Sutton gave him the Glock handgun he
used to shoot the Suttons. Kopp was arrested the day after the
shooting on an assault charge after two men in Homestead said he
pointed a gun at them. One of the men wrestled the gun away from
Kopp and gave it to police.
It matched the bullets that killed Susan Sutton
and wounded John Sutton, police told Kopp when he was charged with
When Sutton was first interviewed by police the
day after the shooting, he told them he was at the movies, and
offered to show them the ticket stubs, which detectives thought was
odd. They hadn't asked for proof.
Kopp told police he didn't receive any money
for the shooting, though several other people told investigators
that Sutton bragged before and after the shooting that he was going
to come into some money.
Kopp's attorney could not be reached for
After the shooting, Sutton tried to get his
father to write him a blank check and put his name on the family's
accounts. John Sutton refused.
He also wanted to be paid to care for his
father during his convalescence.
Sutton's attorney said Friday that prosecutors
don't have a strong case.
''They certainly don't have any physical
evidence linking my client to the shooting. We have Mr. Kopp who was
apparently involved in the shooting and now for whatever reason is
claiming my client was involved in that,'' Jeff Feiler said.
Susan Sutton died without a will, meaning her
portion of the couple's estate would automatically go to her