Tyler Hadley, accused of murdering parents, expected to use 'involuntary intoxication' as defense

FORT PIERCE — Tyler Hadley's defense for allegedly bludgeoning his parents to death probably will be "involuntary intoxication."

Chief Deputy Public Defender Mark Harllee announced the defense's strategy Tuesday morning during a hearing over whether prosecutors have the right to data compiled by psychologists interviewing Hadley.

At the hearing before Circuit Judge Robert Makemson, Chief Assistant State Attorney Tom Bakkedahl said he needs the data — the questions asked of Hadley and his answers — to prepare for what he expected to be a defense of not guilty by reason of insanity "or some other psychological defense."

Harllee said he had not filed "an intent to rely on insanity, or do I intend to. ... At this point, we don't know which direction we'll take, but more than likely it will be an involuntary intoxication defense."

Bakkedahl replied, "Involuntary intoxication, for all intents and purposes, is insanity. ... It's not a question anymore of if (Hadley) did it; the question is if he was insane."

Harllee didn't object to Bakkedahl's statement. In fact, he predicted "a very lengthy sentencing hearing."

Hadley, who is 18 now, was 17 years old on July 16, 2011, when he allegedly beat his parents, Mary Jo Hadley, 47, and Blake Hadley, 54, to death with a hammer at the family's home in the 300 block of Northeast Granduer Avenue in Port St. Lucie and then sent out invitations via Facebook for a party at the house.

In an apparent reference to an insanity plea, Hadley wrote in a Nov. 29 letter from the St. Lucie County Jail to Michael Mandell, his best friend and the prosecution's key witness: "We do have a very strong defense and could beat the (first-degree murder) charge if we go to trial. I could be lookin' at 20-40 years in the pen, but at least I'll get out. If I plead insanity and go to a state hospital, I'm lookin' at 10 or 15 years. That's what I pray for."

Mandell told Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers that Hadley took three pills of the psychoactive drug commonly known as ecstasy before the homicides: "He said he couldn't do it sober."

If convicted of first-degree murder, Hadley faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Because of his age at the time of the homicides, he cannot be executed.

Makemson granted Bakkedahl's request for Hadley's psychological data. Both Harllee and Bakkedahl told Makemson the case is on schedule to go to trial in March or April.

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