ST. AUGUSTINE — The Ponte Vedra teenager accused of stabbing his former girlfriend, her mother and another patron in the restaurant parking lot of Mr. Chubby's Wings pleaded not guilty Friday.
Spencer Ross Pearson, 18, is charged with multiple counts of attempted murder and aggravated battery in the June 3 attack that paralyzed 17-year-old Madison Schemitz from the chest down.
Schemitz was not in the courtroom Friday, but her mother and the man who helped stop the onslaught were, Times-Union news partner First Coast News reported.
Pearson didn't have any expression on his face as he walked into the courtroom wearing a dark-blue jail jumpsuit and shackles. The scars are still visible on his neck, where he slit his own throat after the assault.
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Surveillance video released by the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office shows Schemitz walking to her car as Pearson runs out of the Ponte Vedra Beach restaurant and attacks, stabbing her 15 times. Her mother tries to restrain him and is slashed as well as Kennedy Armstrong, who had just arrived at the restaurant and tackled Pearson.
Schemitz said he had been stalking and harassing her since she broke up with him, according to an arrest report, and then she and her mother were leaving the restaurant when they saw him there.
Pearson's attorney Matthew Kachergus addressed some concerns in court. He said he wasn’t notified when two additional battery charges were filed against his client. He also objected to the release of the surveillance footage, saying it was provided to local media, while the defense was never notified.
"It's troubling to see the discovery in my case being disseminated widely in the media before I had even seen it or knew it was being disseminated. If we can play by the rules I would appreciate it," Kachergus told Judge R. Lee Smith.
His motion stated, "The video was broadcast on virtually every media outlet and platform in Northeast Florida.” It was released "in an apparent effort to try this case in the court of public opinion, thereby depriving defendant of his right to a fair and impartial jury under the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States."
Smith agreed the state needs to notify the defense before releasing additional materials but said prosecutors didn’t break any laws.
"We are not prohibited from releasing this information," prosecutor Kaitlyn Payne said. "It is exempt. If they choose not to release the information, then that is something that is the prerogative and the state's right, but we can choose to release this information. We understand this court has the ability to want to keep a trial fair, but we do not think anything we have done will keep this fair."
Defense attorney Shannon Schott said as the case moves forward, she expects a more coordinated release of information.
"I think the strategy here from the defense is that they want to put the court on notice that these things are happening so that if something much more serious happens later, they can get more footing in their legal arguments with the judge as to why sanctions should be appropriate," Schott said.
Pearson is due back in court on Sept. 28.
Florida Times-Union Metro Editor Scott Butler contributed to this report.
This article originally appeared on Florida Times-Union: Spencer Pearson pleads not guilty to Ponte Vedra restaurant stabbing