Thursday, August 23, 2007

Grand jury ups murder charges against boy, 16


Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Thursday, August 23, 2007

PORT ST. LUCIE — A grand jury on Wednesday formally charged a 16-year-old boy with two counts of first-degree murder in a case in which investigators say he admitted to fatally shooting both of his parents.

Prosecutors already had decided to charge Jacob Brighton as an adult in the killings, but the grand jury indictment was necessary to upgrade the charge from second-degree murder to first-degree premeditated murder.

While investigators have not released a possible motive, St. Lucie County sheriff's officials have said the teen shot his 47-year-old father, Richard, and 46-year-old mother, Penny, on Aug. 2 in their rural St. Lucie County home before phoning a cousin with the news. The cousin told Penny Brighton's sister in Port St. Lucie, who called 911.

Assistant State Attorney Steve Gosnell said he could not discuss the investigation but that more information about Brighton's thought process will be revealed as the documents and reports become public during the legal process.

Brighton's attorney, Marc Shiner of West Palm Beach, said there is a lot more to the case than what has been disclosed in reports and in the indictment. But he said it was too early to talk about specifics of the defense.

"The whole story is far from over," Shiner said. "Basically, children generally do not kill their parents if there's not something horrible going on in the family."

Richard Brighton's father, John Brighton, said Wednesday he still does not know what motivated his grandson's actions.

"There was not a whisper of anything wrong," John Brighton said. "I wish I could say yes and it would make some sense. But that's not the truth."

Sheriff's investigators say Jacob Brighton was waiting for deputies outside the home around 7 p.m. after the shootings. They say he waved the deputies down and told them: "I've done something terrible. I've shot my parents. There is no point in rescue. They're dead."

He went on to describe how he shot his father in the back and his mother in the shoulder and neck when she tried to run away, according to a report. Deputies said the boy used one of his father's two 9mm semiautomatic pistols.

Richard Brighton was a self-employed drywall contractor. Penny Brighton taught disabled students in the St. Lucie County School District and was finishing course work at Florida Atlantic University in pursuit of her master's degree in education.

Jacob Brighton was a student at Fort Pierce Central High School and had no criminal record. He is being held without bail at the St. Lucie County Jail.

Because of his age, Brighton faces a possible maximum sentence of life in prison and not the death penalty.

"Do I want him punished horribly or do I want him not punished not at all? I really don't know," John Brighton said. "I suppose something in the middle is the truth."

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