Jacob Brighton defense to admit double homicide during opening in Fort Pierce trial

FORT PIERCE, Fla. - In opening statements scheduled to begin at 9:15 a.m. Wednesday, the defense team representing Jacob Brighton will tell a jury of seven women and five men their client shot and killed his parents Aug. 27, 2007.

But they also will say they plan to show that Brighton, who was 16 at the time, suffered from battered-child syndrome and felt driven to pull the trigger because he had been abused by his parents, Penny and Richard Brighton.

Jacob Brighton, now 20, is facing two counts of first-degree murder.

After the two days it took to select the jury, which also includes one male alternate and one female alternate, Circuit Judge Gary Sweet asked Jacob Brighton if he approved of the tactic to be taken by his attorneys.

"Yes, sir," he replied.

According to St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office reports, Jacob Brighton shot his parents at the family home west of Fort Pierce. Richard Brighton was found lying on his back in the living room with two spots of blood on the right side of his chest. Penny Brighton was lying face down with a large pool of blood under her head and shoulders.

Jacob Brighton admitted to sheriff's deputies he shot his parents and led authorities to the 9mm pistol he used.

Paperwork filed by the Brighton's defense alleges he was sexually abused by his father. According to Sheriff's Office reports, Jacob Brighton and his mother clashed over his use of marijuana, and he reportedly told friends he hated her and wanted to kill her.

After the jury had been selected, Marc Shiner, a West Palm Beach attorney representing Jacob Brighton, and Chief Assistant State Attorney Tom Bakkedahl argued over a stack of photos of the bodies of Penny and Richard Brighton that the prosecution planned to show jurors.

Shiner objected to the use of several photos, saying that because Jacob Brighton admits he killed his parents, prosecutors would be using "extremely bloody and gruesome" photos merely to prejudice jurors.

"This is a double homicide," Bakkedahl countered. "It's going to get bloody and gruesome."

Sweet withheld a ruling on whether to allow the photos into evidence.

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