Thursday, August 9, 2007
By PAUL QUINLAN and SARAH PROHASKA
Palm Beach Post Staff Writers
Thursday, August 09, 2007
FORT PIERCE — The days have run together. Kathleen Brighton cannot remember exactly when, but she brought a message to her grandson in the St. Lucie Regional Juvenile Detention Center in the days after police say the 16-year-old shot and killed his mother and father - Kathleen's son - in their living room.
"I hugged him, and he hugged me," Kathleen, 68, said Wednesday. "I told him I loved him. I forgave him."
Jacob, always the quiet one, said little.
"He didn't have much to say."
But the Brightons do.
Although they vowed not to talk with reporters, they did so Thursday to dispel the rumors and speculation about their son and his family.
Deputies, who had been called only once before to the home when a family car was burglarized, say they have found no apparent reason why Jacob would kill his mother, Penny, or father, Rick.
"God knows we want to make heads or tails of an awful tragedy, but there's no understanding things," said John Brighton Sr., 73. "There's no understanding at all."
Comments that one of Penny's sisters made in a 9-1-1 call suggested there was trouble in the home and that Rick might have been abusive. The Brightons say that's absolutely not true.
Rick loved family, parents and church, the Brighton's said. They say his marriage to Penny was not perfect, but whose is? He paid to put her through her masters in education classes at Florida Atlantic University, which she would have completed Friday.
Nor can they understand why their grandson, known as the quiet, well-behaved son who loved fishing, video games and remote control cars, would turn on his parents.
"Jacob was the most mild-mannered kid," said John Brighton Sr. "I've never even seen him get angry. Ever."
Their comments came on the day Jacob appeared in adult court for the first time, where his attorney entered a not-guilty plea on his behalf to charges of second-degree murder.
Several family members of Jacob Brighton quietly watched the brief court hearing, where Brighton appeared via a closed-circuit television screen from the St. Lucie County Jail.
The teen was moved from a juvenile detention center to the jail on Wednesday, a day after prosecutors filed formal, adult second-degree murder charges against him. Family members at the hearing declined to comment.
"The family is suffering," said Jupiter attorney, Darren D. Shull, who represents Brighton. "This is a deep tragedy. They are trying to heal."
Shull said after speaking with prosecutors this week, he expects the state will seek a grand jury indictment for first-degree murder charges against Brighton in the next few weeks.
Shull, however, declined to comment on Brighton's possible defense or any details of the case.
"We should all have this family in our thoughts and prayers in the coming days and months," Shull said. "I can assure you this tragedy is not simply contained in the police reports. We anticipate the full truth will be discovered during this delicate process."
Sheriff's deputies say the teenager shot his 47-year-old father, Richard, and 46-year-old mother, Penny, Thursday afternoon in the living room of their rural home west of Fort Pierce before phoning a cousin with the news.
The cousin told Penny's sister in Port St. Lucie, who called 911.
Investigators have not released any possible motive for the killings, but they said Brighton admitted to the shootings.