BUNNELL, FL – Morgan Leppert has been found guilty of first-degree murder.
About 2:30 Thursday afternoon, after a couple of hours of deliberation, the jury returned the guilty verdict against the 16-year-old girl in the killing of 66-year-old James Stewart in Melrose last year.
The jury also found Leppert guilty of burglary with assualt or battery as well as robbery with a deadly weapon.
Leppert threw her head back as she heard the verdict. Her family cried as the verdict was read.
Stewart’s family held each other.
The trial began Monday, and was dominated by the prosecution. Leppert’s defense attorney, Christopher Smith, didn’t call any witnesses in her defense.
Smith agreed with the prosecution that Leppert made a “series of bad and wrong choices,” but disagreed that she had intentionally killed Stewart.
Smith instead argued that Toby Lowry, her boyfriend at the time, killed Stewart, and Leppert just wanted to get a truck so they could leave Florida.
After Stewart was killed, Lowry and Leppert went to Texas in Stewart’s truck.
Leppert’s family and Stewart’s loved ones chose not to talk after the trial.
However, Assistant State Attorney Chris France said Stewart’s family remember him as “a very kind man, a very loving man, and a very determined individual.”
Leppert did not know him prior to the day of the murder.
Toby Lowry, then 22, is serving a life sentence after pleading guilty to the crime to avoid the death penalty.
Lowry was not called to testify.
An update for those of y’all that ain’t from around here.