Defense wants admissions by man charged in Nassau County woman’s death thrown out

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FERNANDINA BEACH, Florida. – Lawyers for Shawn Whigham, the man charged with the murder of 73-year-old Colleen Potts, are asking that a confession made by their client during questioning be dismissed.

Whigham has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of Potts, whose body was found in a home on South 13th Street in October 2021. He has also been charged with armed robbery and armed robbery with assault.

The defense says Whigham’s rights were violated during questioning and what he told investigators was coerced.

Attorney Gene Nichols, of Nichols & Pina LLLP in Jacksonville, is unaffiliated with the case. He spoke to News4JAX to offer his legal opinion on the request.

“The argument in this case is that the officers, the detectives involved in that initial questioning should have informed the defendant of his Miranda rights long before he was actually informed of those rights,” Nichols said.

Fernandina Beach police say Whigham admitted to the crime, saying he entered the house to steal when he encountered Potts.

According to his arrest report, police say he confessed to shooting her, grabbing her purse and fleeing.

In court documents, the defense says police threatened Whigham’s wife, his job and his home.

The defense motion cites lines from the interrogation, including statements made by a detective:

Whigham: I’ll tell you anything you want to hear, just leave her alone? Because it has nothing to do with anything.

Detective: “You said it was an accident.”

Whigham: “I just said it because you all want me to say that. You’re all gonna put that on me, no matter what I say, it doesn’t matter.

Whigham: “…I’ll take the 15, it was an accident. Y’all want me to say it was an accident.

“The question in this case is, however, was he forced to give statements? Was the situation such that he didn’t really have a choice? Nicholas asked.

Community members say Potts kept pets at the home where his body was found.

Whigham’s attorneys said there is no “physical, forensic, digital, direct, circumstantial or eyewitness evidence” that links Whigham to Potts’ death.

A motion hearing in the case is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.

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Defense wants admissions by man charged in Nassau County woman’s death thrown out

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