Amber Wright, 16, and her 17-year-old brother Kyle Hooper were both found guilty of murder yesterday for the April 17, 2011, death of 15-year-old Seath Jackson.
Most of Wright and Jackson’s relationship was carried out on Facebook for all to see. First, Seath was professing his love for Wright, and later, when the teens broke up after Seath accused her of cheating, trash talk filled his wall. The high schoolers took on gangsta personas online, calling each other n*ggers and threatening retribution for perceived affronts. The online squabbling could easily have been dismissed as another case of teen machismo, until Seath actually died. He was beaten with wooden objects, shot repeatedly, his knees were broken and he was tied up. His body was set on fire, then stuffed into a barrel and tossed into a flooded quarry. Wright did not participate in the actual beating and shooting; her role was luring Seath to a Summerfield, Fla., trailer where the murder took place by telling him she wanted to get back together. Hooper, however, did engage in the attack, as did Justin Soto, 20, and Michael Bargo, 18. According to prosecutors, Soto held Seath down while Bargo shot him, then Hooper put him in a bathtub and broke his legs. Bargo, believed to have fired the fatal bullet, was vying for Wright’s affections.
Bargo and Soto were staying in the trailer with 18-year-old Charlie Kay Ely, who claimed that she was an unwitting pawn in the murder plot and hid in her room during the killing. However, the 108 texts she sent and the two phone calls she took in the hours after Seath’s death did not help her defense. In October, 2011, Ely was sentenced to life without parole after being found guilty of first-degree murder.
Soto pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in May of this year to avoid the death penalty and received a sentence of life without parole. Michael Bargo is still awaiting trial, which is set for August. During Ely’s trial, Bargo was brought forth as a witness for the prosecution, but immediately invoked his fifth amendment rights against self-incrimination.
Wright and Hooper were tried together, but convicted by separate juries. Both were found guilty of first-degree murder yesterday. Both face life sentences. In a recorded interview played in court on Monday, Wright admitted to luring Seath to the trailer and said, “The plan came together in a matter of two minutes.”
Wright and Hooper’s stepfather, James Young Havens III, 38, is accused of knowing about the plan all along. He claims that he did not think the teens would go through with it. Havens is charged with accessory after the fact.
Scroll down for photos from the case. Warning: Facebook screen shots contain profanity.