McKINNEY On this, both defense and prosecutors agree: It was a high school love triangle that went violently wrong.
The question now before a Collin County judge is whether Brenden Bridges should stand trial as an adult in the murder of his romantic rival, 17-year-old Ivan Mejia.
Bridges and Adam Staup are accused of putting Mejia in a headlock, stuffing a sock in his mouth, and choking him to death behind Wylie East High School, where they all attended classes.
A hearing to decide whether Bridges will be tried as an adult began Monday morning and continued all day. It is expected to conclude Tuesday.
'Regardless of the outcome, the difficult decision that the judge makes in this case, there will be no winners,' Bridges' attorney, Edwin King, said outside court. 'There are only going to be losers.' As Mejia's family sat in court listening, King sought to portray Bridges as young, impulsive and immature. He argued that Bridges would be better served by the rehabilitation programs in the state's juvenile prison system.
But in testimony, investigators described a cold, calculating, premeditated murder plot. Mejia and Bridges had both been dating the same girl on and off.
Wylie police detective Mark Johnston testified that classmates told investigators Bridges made comments that he wanted Mejia out of the picture; that he was dead to him and that he wanted to kill him.
'I don't think many kids go around planning to kill someone especially someone they see every day,' Johnson said. 'This crime was planned. It was pretty well put together.'
Staup told investigators that when Bridges first brought up killing Mejia, he thought was joking... but he soon realized he was serious.
About five days before the murder, the two began plotting how they would carry out the plan. Staup told investigators that they Staup would hit Mejia in the head with a bat and Bridges would help subdue take him down.
They said Staup told investigators that Bridges thought he could get away with it because he was an avid watcher of the serial killer TV show 'Dexter.'
Police detectives testified that Bridges and Staup dug a grave near Garland's Firewheel Mall one day before the murder.
Staup also told investigators that he created a fake profile on the Kik messaging system for the girl. They sent a message to Mejia, pretending to be the girl and telling him that she had sneaked out and wanted to meet him, because she had a surprise from him.
Investigators testified that when Mejia arrived, Bridges was hiding in the bushes. Staup was standing there with the bat, but he thought if Mejia saw the bat it would scare him off, detectives testified.
Instead, Staup began talking to Mejia, who told him that he was there to meet the girl. Mejia made calls to the girl but couldn't reach her, a police investigator testified.
When Mejia was about to turn and leave, Staup jumped him and put him in a headlock, an investigator testified. Staup told investigators that they put a rag into Mejia's mouth and held his nose until they were sure he was dead. They then duct-taped his hands and feet and put him in the back of Bridges' car, detectives testified.
Staup and Bridges drove Mejia's body about 15 minutes away to a secluded area near Firewheel Mall whey had dug the grave, police said. The pair then dragged his body and dumped it into a creek bed, police said.
The two teens who were 16 at the time were arrested after a person called 911 to say that a car was driving erratically and had veered near the mall.
When Garland police arrived, they saw Bridges' empty car and saw the two teens running. Officers asked them what they were doing, and they confessed that they were burying a body, authorities said.
Garland police found Mejia's body and then contacted the Wylie Police Department.
At the time of the murder, Bridges was four days from his 17th birthday.
If convicted in the juvenile court system, Staup and Bridges face up to 40 years behind bars. In the juvenile court system, a judge decides shortly before an offender's 19th birthday whether he will be transferred into the adult prison system, be released on parole, or simply be freed.
'The juvenile system has programs in place and a punishment system in place to deal with children that commit or are alleged to have committed serious crimes such as murder and capital murder,' King said. 'You get rehabilitation and counseling on the juvenile side. You don't get on the adult side.'