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Pastor's Son Convicted of Murder, Will Get Life For Running Over Mom Of Romantic Rival

Elijah Stansell will spend the rest of his life in prison for running over Suzette Penton with a church van during a "romantic" dispute involving several teenagers, including Penton's son.

By Gina Tron
Suzette Penton Elijah Stansell Fb Pd

A Florida pastor’s son faces a mandatory life sentence after being convicted of running over and killing a romantic rival's mother.

Elijah Stansell, 20, was convicted of the first-degree murder of Suzette Penton by a Polk County jury, the office of State Attorney for the Tenth Judicial Circuit announced in a Tuesday press release.

“Stansell will be sentenced later this year to a mandatory life in prison sentence,” the release states.

Stansell, the son of a pastor at Westwood Missionary Baptist Church in Winter Haven, was one of four teens arrested in November 2020 for the murder of Penton, a 52-year-old Polk City librarian who was run over by a church van. The state’s attorney office notes that the victim “confronted the defendant who was driving the getaway van. As he was fleeing the area, the defendant drove his van directly towards the victim; severely injuring her.”

She died as a result of those injuries a few weeks later.

Polk Sheriff Grady Judd told Fox 13, "He didn't try to turn away from her and accidentally hit her. She was squared up and he ran over her, directly over her, rolled her underneath the van."

Stansell, then 18, brought three alleged conspirators — all juveniles — over to Penton’s home in Polk City to “handle” a “romantic” dispute” with Penton's son, according to an arrest affidavit previously obtained by Oxygen.com. Penton's son had once dated a 15-year-old girl, Kimberly Stone, with whom Stansell had then gotten involved, and there had been a series of “ongoing verbal disputes” between Penton's son and Stone that escalated into a physical confrontation, according to authorities.

Stone is among the three other teens charged in the case.

Stone, Hannah Eubank, who was then 14,  and Raven Sutton, who was then 16, have been charged as adults with one count each of attempted felony murder and burglary with assault, according to a 2020 press release from Judd's Office. 

"Suzette won't be there when her children get married. She won't ever get to see her grandchildren," Judd told Fox 13. He called her murder a “senseless tragedy.”

She was a librarian at the Polk City Community Library.

“Suzette Penton helped make it a wonderful community with the work she did with the children at the library,” Judd told reporters at a 2020 press conference. “She always went above and beyond. She was known and loved by the people of Polk City.”

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