FORT PIERCE, Fla. - WATCH LIVE STREAMING COVERAGE OF THE SENTENCING
There was tearful testimony Wednesday from family members as the defense began presenting its case in the Tyler Hadley sentencing hearing.
Maggie DiVittorio says her grandson was battling the odds from the beginning. She said Tyler Hadley was born premature...a 3 pound 10 ounce bag of bones at birth.
The 87-year-old nurse, who just retired last month, said Tyler was a loving child.
"Never left us without giving us a hug and giving us and 'I love you' and 'I love you grand pap, I love you grandma,' " said DiVittorio.
But DiVittorio said Tyler had self-esteem issues and that he told her he was always a step below everyone else. She knew Tyler was on anti-depressants at age 10.
"He wanted to have friends, he wanted to have friends and I think he always thought he never had a friend," added DiVittorio.
Tyler Hadley wiped his eyes twice during his grandmother's testimony where she talked about the number of medications he was on, and about the times she comforted him.
DiVittorio broke down at the end of her testimony recalling the last time she saw her daughter and son-in-law alive. It was the night before the murders and the family shared a dinner out.
Below: Photo of Maggie DiVittorio, Mary Jo Hadley's mother
Earlier in the day, the first defense witness Dr. Randy Otto, a forensic psychologist, testified that the study of adolescence only dates back about a century.
"It's a tough job to look at someone as a teenager and make a judgment as to how they're going to be significantly further out," said Dr. Otto.
Under cross examination, Dr. Otto said his personal opinion is that it should be a rare case where a juvenile is sentenced to life without parole.
Dr. Otto also said there was no "bright line" psychologically between adults and juveniles.
Before court ended for the day, one of Tyler Hadley's cousins says Tyler realizes the toll this case has taken on two families.
One of the best friends of Mary Jo Hadley said Mary Jo was not concerned for her safety but more concerned that Tyler would commit suicide.
In its opening statement, the defense said they will answer "why" Tyler Hadley killed his parents and prove that he is distinguishable from an adult who would have committed the murders of his parents.
They're hoping that Hadley, who pleaded no contest to the crimes, will one day be eligible for parole.
The prosecution has rested in the sentencing hearing for Tyler Hadley, the Port St. Lucie man who pleaded no contest to killing his parents in 2011.
During testimony Tuesday a crime scene investigator showed photos inside the home and held the framing hammer used to kill Blake and Mary Jo Hadley in 2011.
Right before it was displayed, some family members left the courtroom. Others covered their faces.
Pictures of the crime scene were also shown.
The associate medical examiner said Mary Jo Hadley took 36 blows to the head and back. Blake Hadley was hit 39 times.
"She was alive during every part of the attack,” said associate medical examiner Linda Rush O'Neil.
The hammer was found between the bodies of Blake and Mary Jo. Those bodies were covered by debris as a party raged on outside the master bedroom.
Neighbor Kimberly Thieben was at the party. "There was a rumor going around that he (Tyler) wanted to kill himself."
Thieben said Hadley made no mention of the crime that night, but the day before said something about his future. "All of a sudden, said he'd be going away for 60 years. I didn't push him on why because if he was ready to say why he would have told me and I wasn't going to push him."
In court, a pair of pruning shears was also shown. They were found in Tyler Hadley's room.
Hadley confessed to one of his friends that the night before the murders, he held the shears over his parents as they slept, but could not go through with killing them.
Late in the day Hadley’s defense attorney tried to argue that the prosecution didn’t prove Hadley was an adult at the time of the crime and so the judge should not consider life without parole as a possible sentence. The judge denied the motion.
The hearing resumes at 1 p.m. Wednesday.
In opening statements Monday, the prosecution said the killing of Blake and Mary Jo Hadley was a cold, calculated premeditated act.
The defense did not offer any opening so the prosecution began calling witnesses.
The first witness to the stand was Tyler Hadley's older brother Ryan who is six years older than Tyler.
He was on the stand for nearly an hour and said he had his brother had a very close relationship growing up. "If me and him weren't going somewhere together, we were in my bedroom watching a movie, watching Family Guy, doing something together," Ryan said.
Hadley said his parents were very loving and generous. He testified that as Tyler got older, he began hanging with a bad crowd and he would
steal his parents debit card and at times take his father's truck keys without permission, "He started sneaking out a lot, he would go out the back door or go out his window. Sometimes they would catch him, sometimes they wouldn't."
Ryan said his parents put Tyler in rehab and installed a tracking device on his phone which he said really upset him.
At the end of his testimony, Ryan Hadley was asked what he wants to see happen to his brother. "I guess what I want is for him to get the maximum penalty possible, which I understand is life in prison without the possibility of parole," testified Ryan Hadley.
The state also called Mary Jo Hadley's niece who said Tyler Hadley looked fine at a family dinner the night before the murders.
The next two witnesses to the stand were acquaintances of Tyler Hadley.
The first was a friend who said Hadley complained about his parents due to the fact that he was in rehab and that he couldn't go out.
The state wants the judge to issue the maximum penalty of two consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole.
Because Hadley was 17-years-old when his parents were killed, he is not eligible for the death penalty.