Judge throws out Key Largo murder defendant's confession

Denise Bozarth
Denise Bozarth

A Monroe County Circuit Court judge has thrown out the confession of a woman awaiting trial for the 2007 murder of her husband, who was found wrapped in plastic and stuffed in the hull of his boat docked in a Key Largo marina.

Judge Luis Garcia ruled last week that Denise Bozarth, 40, asked a Florida Department of Law enforcement detective for an attorney before confessing to bludgeoning her husband, 62-year-old Edward Bozarth, to death. Both he and Denise Bozarth lived on a sailboat called the Screw U 2, which was docked at Gilbert's Marina.

Denise Bozarth was arrested on March 21, 2012, in DeFuniak Springs. Monroe County Sheriff's Office detectives suspected Denise Bozarth was the killer from the beginning, but lacked enough evidence for a warrant until March 2012.

Her friends told detectives that Denise had talked about killing her husband before, and she reportedly try to hire a former boyfriend to do the deed. Detectives say Denise expected to come into $650,000 that her husband had inherited from his mother shortly before he was killed.

But according to a transcript of her March 15, 2012, interview with the FDLE agent, it appears Denise Bozarth asked to speak to an attorney more than once, but the agent kept the interview going.

According to the transcript, the FDLE agent said: "The story you've laid out is, is kind of comical at this point. I think everybody knows that. And I don't really understand why it's taken so long to get back with you on this, but I mean, you've got to have some kind of defense here, Denise.

"You have to have some kind of a true story that you can lay out that makes sense to us, you know what I mean, for your defense attorney and the prosecutors. I think they'll be sympathetic towards what...."

At that point, Denise interrupted the agent and asked, "Can I talk to an attorney first?"

The agent responded, "Yeah. I mean, obviously it's something that you're going to have to work out with your attorney."

Denise responded that she was worried about her kids growing up without a mother. The agent responded that he needed "the real story" to "tell the people in the Keys."

Again, Denise asked, "Would I be able to talk to my attorney today?"

The agent said, "You can talk to anybody you want."

Denise responded, "I don't know anybody, that's just it. I don't have any money to afford one."

Garcia ruled Jan. 9 that "in the instant matter, the defendant clearly asked for an attorney."

"[T]here is no ambiguity in the words 'can I talk to an attorney first,' or in the subsequent statement, 'Would I be able to talk to my attorney today?' or the statement about not knowing anybody and not being able to afford one."

Garcia said that "the defendant clearly invoked her right to an attorney, and the officers were required to stop their questions if and until an attorney were made available to her." 

Denise Bozarth's next court appearance is scheduled for Feb. 3 at 9 a.m.