The teen girl who was convicted of luring her ex-boyfriend to his death and sentenced to life in prison for first-degree murder will get a new trial after an appellate court deemed her taped confession inadmissible because of the way police read her her Miranda rights.
During a 2012 trial, prosecutors argued that, at the age of 15, Amber Wright lured her 15-year-old ex-boyfriend, Seath Jackson, into a Florida home, where he was brutally murdered by her new boyfriend, her brother and two others – most of them teenagers.
Wright apparently confessed to police twice. The first time, she wasn’t read her Miranda rights as required by law. However, she was read those rights before her second taped confession.
Wright’s attorney filed an appeal, claiming her confession had been coerced.
Even though the trial judge did not allow that first taped confession to be used in the trial, the second one was allowed in. On Friday, three appellate judges ruled that second confession – before which deputies did read Wright the Miranda warning and asked her to repeat her previous confession – should never have been used in court. They granted Wright, now 18, a new trial.
On Sunday, Jackson’s mother told ABC News that she was still trying to make sense of the ruling. She believed Wright should still be held accountable.
The killing was the apparent result of a love triangle and a bitter Facebook feud.
Wright is accused of luring Jackson to a home in Summerfield, Florida, in April 2011 under the pretext that she wanted to reconcile with him. Police said Jackson was hit in the head and shot, but he still tried to flee. The teens then continued the brutal attack, eventually burning his body and disposing of his ashes in paint cans.
Michael Bargo, 18; Wright, 15; her brother, Kyle Hooper, 16; Charlie Ely, 18; and Justin Soto, 20, were charged with first-degree murder. James Haven, 37, was charged with accessory to murder for allegedly helping to dispose of the body and driving Bargo out of town.
Haven was later deemed legally incompetent to stand trial and was ordered into a treatment program. He reportedly may stand trial later if he is well enough.
All the others were convicted and sentenced to life in prison, with the exception of Bargo, who was believed to be the triggerman. He was sentenced to death in December 2013, becoming the youngest person on Florida’s death row.
In Friday’s decision, the appellate court also threw out the life sentence of Kyle Hooper, according to the Ocala Star Banner. The three judges ruled that a new sentence is required due to a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that prohibits mandatory life without possibility for parole for people who were juveniles when the crime was committed.