A girl from Alabama was beaten and stabbed to death by three teens, all 16.
Erin Taylor, Tyeshia Whisenant, and Ta’Niya Merriweather are charged as adults in the death of 17-year-old Lesley Luna Pantaleon.
Another teen, a boy who was present during the attack, had a knife, Montgomery Police Detective Ashley Brown said. Prosecutors and police did not disclose details about the boy.
Taylor, Whisenant, and Merriweather beat Pantaleon with a pole, stabbed her, and left her bleeding in the woods. They later returned and dumped her body in a river to drown.
The three 16-year-old girls are charged with capital murder. They are also accused of intending to kill the helpless teen during a first-degree robbery.
In Alabama, a capital murder charge can carry the death penalty. However, the US Supreme Court banned the execution of people who were under 18 when the crimes were committed.
Pantaleon was reported missing by her parents on June 24.
She reportedly fought her alleged assailant Whisenant at her flat that day after learning that her gun was stolen from her.
Brown said that the three teens gave contradictory stories but what he understood was that it started with an accusation of theft of a firearm but it ended with Pantaleon being into a river alive.
Pantaleon reportedly drove to Whisenant’s apartment in West Montgomery to get her firearm back and that’s when they started to fight.
The three attackers, Pantaleon, and the boy got into her Trailblazer. Taylor drove the vehicle and pulled over to a wooded area where they found a metal pole.
The 17-year-old was then beaten with the pole and stabbed with a knife. She was left on the side of the road bleeding as the attackers drove back to Whisenant’s apartment to get a fourth girl, and they told her how they beat and stabbed Pantaleon.
The four teens, along with the fourth girl, went back to the site of the attack and put Pantaleon’s body in the SUV.
“They take her on a long, bumpy road for a couple of minutes, get to a creek and river area, then (Whisenant and the boy) threw her in the river,” Brown said. “The pole was also thrown in the river. According to Tyeshia, it appeared the victim was trying to swim.”
The five teens then drove to a McDonald’s and ordered smoothies.
Pantaleon’s body was found on July 4 after police received a tip about possible human remains in the area of Catoma Creek.
Brown said that Taylor and Whisenant have accused each other of beating Pantaleon with a pole. They also accused Merriweather of moving the helpless teen back into her vehicle.
The three teens are held without bond.
Whisenant’s attorney, Ben Schoettker, said: “What happened is terrible. It’s not capital murder. There’s no evidence that they killed this person to get a car and a cellphone. They killed this person because of a dispute, and it got out of hand. No one wanted her car or her cellphone.”
Prosecutor Scott Green argued that Taylor used the victim’s phone after the killing. “This phone is evidence in a murder. She was caught with that phone,” Green said, according to the Advertiser.
Green later said in the hearing: “They took her stuff and they took her and they beat her more and threw her in the creek to drown her or for her to die from her injuries. She would have been better off in a car with four monsters than with these people.”
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