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DALLAS -- Ivan Mejia's mother said she's knows her 17-year-old murdered son will never come home.

'I'm still waiting for him,' Anna Garibaldo said. 'We don't want to believe that he is gone from us -- that someone took his life.'

Her testimony came during a hearing where a judge will decide if Brenden Bridges should stand trial as an adult in the March killing of his fellow Wylie East High School classmate. Bridges and his accused accomplice, Adam Staup, confessed to police that they choked Mejia and dumped his body near Firewheel Mall in Garland.

Bridges and Staup were 16 years old at the time of the murder. Both have since turned 17.

Mejia and Bridges had both been dating the same girl on and off, and authorities allege that they killed Mejia to get him out of the picture, so that the girl could be with Bridges.

A Dallas County medical examiner pathologist testified that Mejia's hands and ankles were bound with duct tape and a black rag was stuffed into his mouth.

In court, Dr. Robert Lackey, a psychologist with the Collin County juvenile probation department, said that Bridges and Staup told him that they weighed the pro and cons of how to carry out the murder and discussed the possibility of going to prison if he got caught.

He said Bridges seemed to lack a clear understanding of the consequences of his actions. He also said that Bridges appeared to be remorseful.

'He said he was 100-percent responsible for it,' Lackey said.

Lackey said he spoke with staff members at Wylie East who thought he was 'the last individual you'd think would be involved in something like this.'

He said Bridges told him that he did not think Staup would have carried out the plot without him.

He described Bridges as being isolated, having a negative opinion of himself, not trusting people, and having difficulty expressing his emotions. He said Bridges suffered from an anxiety disorder that appeared to have physically manifested in headaches and blurred vision.

'He feels inferior to others,' Lackey said. 'He feels like people look at him differently.'

During testimony, the judge asked Lackey what role he thought the TV serial killer show 'Dexter' may have played in the crime. Investigators have testified that Bridges was an avid watcher of the show and believed he could get away with murder as a result.

'Dexter,' which aired from 2006 until last year on Showtime, is about a crime scene analyst who kills people he believes deserve to be killed, often creating elaborate 'kill rooms' to capture and kill his victims without leaving behind evidence. Lackey said he did not watch the show and could not say what role, if any, it truly played.

Bridges was on the yearbook staff and covered the ROTC. That's how he met the girl, according to court testimony. The testimony indicated she had been dating Mejia, but had sometimes been seeing Bridges, as well.

A juvenile probation officer testified that two teachers had witnessed conflicts between Mejia and Bridges at the school. One teacher got between the two and broke it up. The other teacher counseled them.

Bridges' father also told Lackey that his son was very upset when he took the girl to an ROTC dance and she spent more time with Mejia than him.

In court, defense attorney Edwin King described a series of text messages between Bridges and Mejia. Last December, Mejia sent Bridges a text message telling him that the girl won't leave him and warning Bridges to stay away from her. Bridges responded, telling Mejia not to threaten him, but promising to say away from her.

In late January, Mejia sends Bridges a text message threatening to hunt him down like a 'little pig.'

Testimony has already revealed that Staup created created a fake profile on the social media application Kik Messenger for the girl, and then used it to lure Mejia to meet them.

Lackey said he had a difficult time getting Bridges to talk to him. He said Bridges didn't want to talk about the girl or Mejia.

Lackey also said that Bridges had a need to be a protector and may have seen himself as protecting the girl. Bridges mentioned that Mejia flirted with other girls, Lackey said.

Bridges' defense attorney contends that Bridges would be better served in the juvenile system, where he could get counseling and therapy. During his testimony, Lackey said that he believed that Bridges would benefit from counseling and treatment, and could be rehabilitated.

'In my opinion, he can work through this,' Lackey said.

Prosecutors have argued that given the premeditated nature of the crime - the teens began planning days ahead of time and even dug a grave - that Bridges should stand trial as an adult.

Garibaldo, Mejia's mother, said she's still filled with grief at the loss of her son.

'His dream was to finish high school and deliver into our hands his diploma, turn 18, and he had already enlisted to join the Marines,' she said.

E-mail teiserer@wfaa.com

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