Tyler Hadley insanity plea: St. Lucie County teen accused of killing parents to file insanity plea

Neighbors react to notice

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Tyler Hadley, the St. Lucie County teen accused of bludgeoning his parents to death, has filed a notice declaring he will rely on an insanity plea in his upcoming trial.

Public defender Diamond R. Litty announced the plea Thursday around noon, which states the defense expects to prove that at the time of the incident Hadley was "laboring under a mental disease, infirmity or defect, to wit: depression."

The filing also states Hadley was involuntarily intoxicated. The defense expects to call two doctors, Dr. Kathleen Heide and Dr. Wade Myers, to prove insanity.

Tom Bakkedahl, Chief Assistant State Attorney, is part of the prosecution in the case. He said prosecutors have been prepared for the insanity notice.

"We're going to have a doctor who will examine (Tyler Hadley), complete discovery of their experts," said Bakkedahl. "We will move towards trial. That's really where we're at, right now."

Hadley, who is now 19, 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.

Donna Montero, the neighbor who lives directly behind the Hadley's house on Granduer Avenue, said she was not surprised to learn of the defense's strategy.

"That's a pretty basic public defense strategy," said Montero. "I mean, what else are they going to say? There's not a whole lot you can do, except insanity."

"It wasn't, as far as my knowledge, that he was abused at all," Montero continued. "So it wasn't that he just snapped because he was tired of getting beaten. So it wasn't like he was defending himself. So what are you going to say? There's not much left to say except temporary insanity, in my opinion."

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 said 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.


Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers contributed to this report.

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