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July 19, 2011
"No death penalty for 17-year-old accused of killing parents, partying"
The title of this post is the headline of this press report on the constitutional sentencing limits on the punishment that can be received by an already notorious teenage murder suspect. Here are the details of what is the latest high-profile Florida crime (largely because of how the defendant apparently "celebrated" killing his parents):
Because of his age, 17-year-old Tyler Hadley will not face the death penalty if he’s convicted in the brutal slaying of his parents, officials with the State Attorney’s Office confirmed Tuesday. If he's eventually convicted ... Hadley could be ordered to serve a maximum penalty of life in prison.
Hadley, the Port St. Lucie teen accused of posting an invitation to a party on Facebook, then killing his parents with a hammer, made his first appearance before a judge Tuesday morning.
Chief Assistant State Attorney Tom Bakkedahl said afterwards that the state's ultimate punishment can't be considered here because several years ago the U.S. Supreme Court determined "it would be cruel and unusual to subject minors to the death penalty."
"It’s simply off the table; it’s not a viable option," Bakkedahl said Tuesday. "Despite the fact that the case may otherwise in all respects warrant the death penalty, we are prohibited from seeking it as a result of him being approximately six-months short of his 18th birthday."...
Police accuse Hadley of killing his parents Blake and Mary Jo Hadley. Their bodies were found in their locked bedroom in the 300 block of Northeast Granduer Avenue on Sunday morning. Hadley was initially arrested as a juvenile, but Monday he was charged as an adult of two counts of 2nd-degree murder with a weapon and is being held on no bond at the St. Lucie County jail....
Bakkedahl, who was attending the Hadley autopsies at the Medical Examiner’s office in Fort Pierce, said state law requires the case be presented to a grand jury in order to seek first-degree murder charges.
Based on the criminal investigation conducted by Port St. Lucie police, Bakkedahl said evidence gathered supports charges of first-degree murder. "I think it’s going to be a clear first-degree murder case," he said. "The only difference between this and any other first-degree murder case is as a result of his age, he does not face the prospect of the death penalty."...
Early Sunday morning, Port St. Lucie police received an anonymous tip indicating a 17-year-old might have killed his parents and the bodies had been in the home during a party attended by as many as 60 people. Police went to the home about 4:20 a.m. Sunday. There police found a hammer between the bodies of Mary Jo Hadley, 47, and 54-year-old Blake Hadley. Tyler Hadley was arrested late Sunday....
"It was a merciless killing. It was brutal and the Facebook invitation — a party to have your friends and 40 to 60 people come over — I think speaks for itself," Port St. Lucie police Capt. Don Kryak said, standing at the scene Monday. "The blunt force trauma to the head and torso with a 22-inch framing hammer can effect a considerable amount of injury."
Police believe Tyler Hadley acted alone, but officials don't know a motive. The former St. Lucie West Centennial High School student made no incriminating statements.
Kryak said the Facebook party invitation was posted about 1:15 p.m. or 1:30 p.m. Saturday — before the homicides occurred. Investigators suspect Tyler Hadley's mother was killed first, and then his father, and that the slayings happened outside the master bedroom door of the single-story home in the 300 block of Northeast Granduer Avenue.
In addition to providing a high-profile example of the impact of the Supreme Court's Roper limit on the application of the death penalty, I can imagine this disturbing case having some indirect impact on post-Graham legislative and litigation efforts to prevent LWOP sentences for even juvenile killers.
July 19, 2011 at 05:45 PM | Permalink
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Partying after murdering? We may finally have found Casey Anthony's soul mate.
Posted by: TarlsQtr | Jul 20, 2011 9:59:11 AM
Bookends. One does party time after killing the parents, the other does party time after killing the kid.
Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 20, 2011 12:28:11 PM
one thing is absolutely certain in this case: everyone under the age of 20 who lives in the area will claim to have been at that party. 60 people attended it, but thousands will clearly remember being there.
Posted by: Ala JD | Jul 20, 2011 3:14:56 PM