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Man accused of killing Nassau County deputy pleads not guilty

The Nassau County Sheriff's Office says Patrick McDowell shot Deputy Joshua Moyers in the face and the back during a traffic stop last month.

NASSAU COUNTY, FLORIDA, Fla. — The man accused of shooting and killing a Nassau County deputy and going on the run for several days says he is not guilty.

The Nassau County Sheriff's Office says Patrick McDowell shot Deputy Joshua Moyers in the face and the back during a traffic stop last month. Moyers later died in the hospital.

McDowell is also accused of shooting a Jacksonville Sheriff's Office police dog. A five-day-long manhunt followed, with law enforcement officers from across Florida and Georgia joining the search before McDowell was captured in a Nassau County ballpark.

The arraignment took place Thursday. He pleaded not guilty to all charges, including first-degree murder, one count of injuring or killing a police dog and eight counts of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer.

The State Attorney's Office said they intend to seek the death penalty in the case.

Investigators also arrested Breiana Tole, accused of trying to help McDowell flee from police. She pleaded not guilty to accessory after the fact, a charge which could land her in prison for 21 months to 30 years if convicted.

The next court date for both McDowell and Tole is Jan. 6, 2022 for a status on discovery hearing.

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According to an arrest affidavit, Moyers pulled over the vehicle McDowell was driving at the intersection of U.S. Highway 301 and Sandy Ford Road in Callahan on Sept. 23. During the stop, Moyers approached the vehicle, a maroon 2019 Chrysler Town and Country van, and was shot two times by the driver, the affidavit says.

Moyers was taken to UF Health in Jacksonville, where he died three days later.

The affidavit says a woman in the passenger seat of the vehicle at the time of the shooting told investigators McDowell said he refused to stop, saying he was not going to jail. The woman then told him he needed to stop, and McDowell replied "It's either me or him."

McDowell was arrested after five days and hospitalized for injuries from his capture. He was booked into jail in Nassau County before being transferred to jail in Duval County. Standard protocol calls for a suspect accused of killing a law enforcement officer to be jailed in a different jurisdiction, the Nassau County Sheriff's Office says.