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Judge allows brain scan for Chuluota man accused of killing family

State says Grant Amato killed his parents, brother

SANFORD, Fla. – A judge on Wednesday granted a motion to allow a triple murder suspect to undergo an MRI.

Attorneys for Grant Amato, who's accused of killing his parents and brother inside their Chuluota home, requested the MRI during a court hearing in Seminole County.

The medical procedure will be paid for by the defense, and the Seminole County Sheriff's Office is expected to transport him to the facility. The results of the MRI could possibly lead to an insanity defense. 

We are trying to show that he’s normal and therefore he never would have committed this crime," said Jeff Dowdy, a deputy chief public defender with the Seminole County Sheriff's Office. 

Also during Wednesday's hearing, the judge denied a motion to suppress evidence when Seminole County deputies made entry to the Amato's home Jan. 25, saying the court finds it reasonable that the deputy who first arrived made entry to carry out a well-being check on Cody Amato, the suspect's brother.

Other motions being argued include allowing "non-hearsay" evidence, like Amato's brother's cellphone records, to be used at trial.

Another motion seeks to limit the state's evidence, including the money he used to watch "cam-girl" content online.

Last week, a judge denied a motion after attorneys argued media coverage and social media could prevent jurors from being fair and impartial.

Amato took the stand for about 20 minutes at the pre-trial hearing Wednesday. Lawyers spent most of that time discussing whether a password Amato used for his jail email could serve as evidence for the state’s case. The password he used is a Japanese word that invites humans to die. Amato said he has used the term for years, simply because he likes Japanese culture. 

"I didn’t know the actual definition until it was presented to me in this case, but I knew the character was in the anime," Amato said.

Dowdy said Amato has used that term for nearly seven years and that there's nothing unusual about it. He said Amato didn't even know what it meant until the prosecution filed that motion.

Amato's trial is set to begin July 15. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

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