“Hammer Murder: Florida Teen Charged as Adult But Can’t Get Death Penalty”
The Florida teen accused of killing his parents with a hammer and then hosting a party at his house, while his parents lay dead in their master bedroom, was charged as an adult in July of 2011 but was not eligible for the death penalty because of his age. According to prosecutors, at the time of the murder, life in prison without parole was the only viable option for this teen. Tyler Hadley, 17, was charged with two counts of second degree murder and assembling a grand jury, was the only way to prosecute Hadley for first degree murder. In Florida, first degree murder consists of two punishments; the death penalty for people 18 or older, or life in prison without parole. Prosecutors made the decision to seek first degree murder chargers against the teen after seeing the gruesome damage done to the bodies of Hadley’s parents during the medical examiner’s autopsy.
Hadley’s neighbor called police around 2:30 a.m. Sunday, July 16th, to report a noise complaint. At that time the party that Hadley had organized via Facebook earlier that day seemed to be coming to a close. Police sent a patrol car and saw evidence of a house party, but didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. A couple hours later police received an anonymous tip from a partygoer, saying that the Hadley’s had been murdered. When police returned to the house, they found the Hadley’s dead in the master bedroom around 4:20 a.m. that same Sunday. The teenager appearing “nervous and panicky,” told officers his parents were out of town. When police checked the house they found the bodies of his parents, Blake and Mary-Jo Hadley behind their locked master bedroom covered with books, clothes and other household items, with a 22 inch framing hammer between their two bodies. Both parents were reportedly killed before the party even began.
In an apparent reference to an insanity plea, Hadley wrote in a November 29th letter from the St. Lucie County Jail, to his best friend and the prosecution’s key witness: “We do have a very strong defense and could beat the (first-degree murder) charge if we go to trial. I could be lookin’ at 20-40 years in the pen, but at least I’ll get out. If I plead insanity and go to a state hospital, I’m lookin’ at 10 or 15 years. That’s what I pray for.” His best friend told reporters that Hadley took three pills of the psychoactive drug commonly known as ecstasy before the homicides: “He said he couldn’t do it sober.” If convicted of first-degree murder, Hadley faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Because of his age at the time of the homicides, he cannot be executed.”