For Adam Staup's mother, it's the unbelievable: the idea that her 'little boy' is accused of killing his Wylie East classmate.
'What he did was horrible,' said Kim Staup. 'It's inconceivable. He went to youth church. He never showed an aggressive bone in his body. He's a kid. He does stupid things.'
Staup took the stand Wednesday during a hearing at a Collin County courthouse to decide if her son will stand trial as an adult.She sobbed throughout.
Her son and his alleged accomplice, Brenden Bridges, are accused of killing 17-year-old Ivan Mejia. Investigators say Bridges wanted to get rid of his romantic rival.
The boys confessed to planning the killing for five days, digging a grave the day before and then luring Mejia into meeting them near Wylie East School.
Police say they choked him to death.
Staup says the phone call from police came in the middle of the night. Never suspecting he could be involved, they thought initially he was a witness.
'I could never imagine that he would be capable of doing that,' Staup said.
She says they told Adam to tell the truth.
'He's still your little boy, isn't he?' the defense attorney asked.
'Always will be' she replied.
Throughout the hearing, he was described as a polite respectful teen and someone always willing to help. A psychologist who examined him said he was someone who had a hard time saying 'no,' even to his own detriment.
But in closing arguments, Collin County prosecutor Emily Ludy told the judge that Staup should be certified to stand trial as an adult because he was adult enough to participate in the cold blooded murder of his friend.
'It was his choice,' Ludy said. 'No one forced him to do it.'
She outlined his role in the killing: He created the fake messaging account. He used it to trick Mejia into meeting them. He was the first to attack Mejia, putting him in a choke-hold. He held Mejia's nose shut to make sure he was dead.
She noted that there will be more pictures of Staup but no more of Mejia.
Countering the defense's portrayal of Staup as a loyal follower manipulated by the troubled Bridges, she said, 'The simple fact is murder is never helpful.'
She called Staup's actions 'calculated,' 'cunning' and 'effective.' She called him 'a dangerous person.'
Defense attorney Emily Steele argued that he should remain in the juvenile system because he was quite simply an immature kid who committed a horrible act.
'This child gets his self esteem, his self worth from saying, 'yes,'' she said.
She said the fact he was so helpful to the police in giving them details about the crime shows how immature he is.
'He's a 16 year old,' Steele said. 'He makes kid decisions ... He needs the opportunity to be rehabilitated.'
Staup will turn 17 in about two weeks.
Several of Staup's former teachers and ROTC instructors also testified. None of them had anything bad to say about him.
J.J. Smith, a former Wylie East ROTC instructor, said that he was easy to train and well on his way to becoming a leader before the deadly incident.
'He was almost like my right hand,' Smith said.
He says he never witnessed any animosity between Staup and Mejia, who was also in ROTC.
'We are like a family in ROTC,' Smith said. 'We instilled a lot of that stuff about being a family and getting along ...I wouldn't have expected him to do anything like that at all.'
Col. Harry Wilbanks, who heads the ROTC program, said it was a punch in the gut when he heard that Mejia had been killed and an even bigger punch in the gut when he learned of Staup's involvement.
'We like to think of ourselves as an extended family,' Wilbanks said. 'Icouldn't believe it.'
From the stand, Staup's mother tearfully begged the judge not to put him in the adult system -- at least not yet.
'Trust me, we're not stupid,' she said. 'We know he's going away for a long, long time.'
But no matter what, she vowed that she would be there for her son.
The decision is now in the judge's hands. She said she'll announce her ruling on Thursday.
Thesame judge has already ruled that Bridges will stand trial as an adult.