Video shows Lakeland rape suspect confess, apologize to victim
The 14-year-old suspect in a brutal sexual attack in Lakeland this spring offered an emotional apology during his interview with police in March, according to video released by prosecutors. Corey Lee Sutton, 14, was an eighth-grader when he was arrested in the attack and beating of a hotel employee the night of March 18 outside the Hyatt Place Hotel in front of the Lakeland Center. The victim was discovered about 11:10 p.m. on the west side of the hotel, 525 W. Orange St., adjacent to the arena, police said. Sutton's mother had reported him missing on March 16. Lakeland police say his size — 5 feet 7 inches, 215 pounds — made him easily identifiable in the surveillance video from the hotel.Sutton originally denied going to the Lakeland Center, and told police he hurt his arm and got scratches from play fighting with friends. The teenager was interviewed by Lakeland Detective Katina Lewis in March. Sutton initially denied a role in the crime, but during the interview changed his story in response to a question. Lewis: "Is this the first time you've ever assaulted a lady in a sexual manner?" Sutton: "Yes, ma'am." Lewis: "Did somebody scare you off? Is that why you stopped?" Sutton: "No, I just, like, my heart was feeling bad, and I was like, why am I even doing this?" He then confesses as he cries. The toughest moment in Sutton's interview comes when his mother, who turned him in after seeing the surveillance video, demands her own answers. Mother: "Why did you do this to this woman? We go to church. You active in the church. You active in the community. You active everywhere, Corey." Sutton: "I didn't want it to happen." Then he cries. During the interview, Sutton did say he was sorry for committing the crime and detectives told him they would tell the victim about his apology. The victim, a hotel employee, was choked until she was unconscious before being sexually assaulted, said police, who called the attack "particularly violent." During her interview, the victim told detectives: "He like rushes me from behind. I didn't even know it was happening at first. … He kept choking me and I kept trying to scratch him and do anything to get him to stop." Prosecutors plan to try Sutton as an adult. Sutton, who is jailed without bail, is charged with attempted felony murder, sexual battery, robbery and battery.
News Channel 8 reporter Jennifer Leigh contributed to this report.