How Young Is Too Young to Face the Death Penalty?

“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.

“Tyler Hadley’s defense for allegedly bludgeoning his parents to death will probably be “involuntary intoxication”.  Hadley, who is 18 now, was 17 years old, when he allegedly beat his parents, Mary Jo Hadley, 47, and Blake Hadley, 54, to death with a hammer at the family’s home and then sent out invitations via Facebook for a party at the house.

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.”

How do you host a party at the same house, with your parents dead in their master bedroom?  How can you live with yourself?  After reading this article I am in complete disgust.  I believe Tyler Hadley deserves to face first-degree murder, even if he was 17 years old at the time of the murder.  While reading this article, I started reading another disturbing story about a ten year old boy who confesses to shooting his mother in the back of the head over a heated argument about his assigned chores.  It saddens me and I begin to question do children really deserve the death penalty? How young is too young to face the death penalty? What I do believe is that even though Tyler Hadley was a teenager at the time of the murders, he should face first-degree murder and receive the punishment of an adult along with any other human being who is a murder and is a threat to our society.
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2 thoughts on “How Young Is Too Young to Face the Death Penalty?

  1. I agree with you. It’s difficult to determine where the line should be drawn. Should children face the death penalty? Or should they just serve life in prison? After reading this story, I too, am completely disgusted. It’s hard to imagine that someone could brutally murder their parents and then host a party in the same home the dead bodies are lying in as if nothing was out of the ordinary. I think this seventeen year old boy was definitely in the wrong and he should face life in prison for the lives that he took. However, I personally do not think that children should face the death penalty. I think capital punishment should only apply to those over the age of eighteen.

  2. This story is ridiculous! We know young children don’t understand the concept of consequences. That is exactly why we have Juvenile Hall for rehabilitation modeled after prisons to help rehabilitate people after a crime. Although this rarely happens, this story makes me thing we need to do something before. Why create a consequence when we could have prevented the whole thing. I feel schools or maybe just the government should monitor children. I am in no ways trying to advocate a big brother system but to analys children. Maybe Hadley was mentally ill. Most serial killers have tell tell signs as children. Once we notice these little signs and help solve them before anything happen we wouldn’t even have to have such an emphasis on prisons.

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