Tyler Hadley: Teen accused of killing parents will keep 1st degree murder charges during trial

Attorneys could pursue insanity defense

ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. -- Tyler Hadley will continue to be charged with first-degree murder for the death of his parents.

His trial begins in March.

A judge denied a motion by the defense Thursday to drop his charges to second-degree murder or manslaughter. Hadley was charged as an adult. He has pleaded not guilty to killing his parents with a hammer in their Port St. Lucie home in 2011, then hosting a party at the house.

Hadley's attorney, Diamond Litty, says she's now left with the same challenges she had before Wednesday's hearing, which is determining how Hadley could be punished if he is convicted of first-degree murder.

Hadley would not have to face the death penalty, but he could face a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole.

Litty argued in court that it is unfair, and in violation of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that requires a chance for parole for juveniles.

The defense says it's a defect in the state law that does not require parole for a juvenile.

The judge also said he is not required to give the defense a specific minimum sentence. Litty says that makes it harder to advise Hadley and determine how to proceed with her case.

"We certainly respect judge Makemson's decision, but we just kind of have to now go and decide what we're going to do next legally. This is not a bump in the road, certainly not a bump in the road. We'll move forward," Litty said.

The defense also filed a motion that would determine how Hadley could be tested for insanity, should Litty pursue an insanity defense.

The defense wanted to use a test called the Model Penal Code for testing insanity. In summary, the test could take into account whether or not Hadley was capable of controlling an impulse that would have led him to kill his parents that an adult would have been able to control.

The state, however, argued that the M'Naghten Rule should be used instead. In summary, that rule would test whether Hadley had a mental infirmity at the time which would have prevented him from knowing right or wrong.

The judge also denied the defense's motion, allowing the M'Naghten rule to be used in trial.

State attorney Tom Bakkedahl did not speak on camera, but was pleased with the judges decisions and is ready for trial.

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