Lead detective in Keetley trial grilled over missing surveillance video, failure to record interrogation

Michael Keetley’s defense attorney hammered away at the lead investigator on the case of a former ice cream truck driver accused of two murders on Thanksgiving Day 2010. 

In grueling, hourslong testimony, attorney Richard Escobar zeroed-in on mistakes in the investigation led by Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Jose Lugo.

Escobar attempted to show Lt. Lugo led a sloppy investigation and failed to record his interrogation of Keetley.  

"You want to do everything in your power to make sure that that video is working during that interrogation, correct?" Escobar asked. 

Detective Lugo responded, "It’s either working or it's not." 

Escobar countered by saying any of the officers, detectives, or supervisors at the district headquarters could have helped Lugo ensure the interrogation was recorded.  

"So, if an apparatus like a video is not working, it is as simple as going to someone who was there and say, ‘Can we turn the video on?’" Escobar asked.

But Lugo said it’s not that simple.  

"The one thing you have to understand is that once you press that video sometimes it shows it's recording and I…  later learn it wasn’t recording when I believed, in fact, that it was," said Lugo.

Keetley is accused of killing two men and injuring four others in what investigators say was both a case of revenge and mistaken identity. They say Keetley was looking for someone called Creeper, but he targeted the wrong home. They say Keetley mistakenly believed Creeper was the one who robbed and shot him on his ice cream route 11 months earlier.

During Friday’s testimony, Escobar pressed Lugo on another issue involving video. Lugo testified he requested both daytime and nighttime surveillance video from a nearby Racetrac gas station.  

"And then you find out, 'Oh my God, the nighttime video’s not on there," said Escobar.  

"Yes, I believe they got daytime," said Lugo. 

"This homicide did not occur in the daylight hours?" asked Escobar. "Did you send somebody back to that store in an effort to get nighttime video?" 

"No sir," replied Lugo.

Escobar also asked about a text message going around the community that identified Keetley as the shooter and showed Keetley’s picture. Lugo testified that he received the text message and confirmed it looked like Keetley, although he wasn’t 100% sure.  

Escobar wanted to know where the photo is now, but Lugo couldn’t recall.  

Escobar pressed harder, saying, "When a witness sends you something in the form of a photo, you want to preserve that... right?"  

Lugo replied "Yes."

Escobar asked again, "So where’s that picture?" 

Lugo responded, "I don’t’ know, sir."

Testimony continued into the afternoon as Escobar pressed Lugo on nearly every aspect of the investigation. Lugo said he had trouble remembering some of the specific details Escobar asked him about because it’s been 12.5 years since the murders.

Earlier in the trial a survivor testified the shooter asked which one of them was Creeper before he started shooting – and an FDLE crime analyst testified Keetley’s laptop was used in internet searches for the name Creeper 185 times. 

Prosecutors say neither Creeper nor the six men shot during the Thanksgiving ambush were involved in the robbery and shooting that left Keetley injured.

Keetley is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and four counts of attempted murder.

The trial resumes on Monday.