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Pastor's Teen Son Indicted On First-Degree Murder Charge After Allegedly Running Over And Killing Rival’s Mother

Suzette Penton intervened when a group of teens showed up at her Winter Haven, Florida home to "handle" a "romantic" dispute with her teen son, when she was fatally struck by a van allegedly driven by 18-year-old Elijah Stansell.

By Gina Tron
Tragic Car Crash Crime Scenes

A Florida pastor’s teen son has been indicted for first-degree murder after allegedly running over and killing a romantic rival's mother.

Elijah Stansell, 18, was indicted for first-degree murder by a grand jury Thursday, as well as on charges of burglary of an occupied dwelling with battery or assault, conspiracy related to that charge and accessory after commission of a felony, local outlet Lakeland Ledger reports.

Stansell, the son of a pastor at Westwood Missionary Baptist Church in Winter Haven, was one of four teens arrested in the Nov. 9 incident that ultimately took the life of 52-year-old Polk City librarian Suzette Penton. The other three teens are minors. They were all indicted on Thursday of burglary of an occupied dwelling with battery or assault, conspiracy to commit burglary and accessory after the fact.

Investigators believe that Stansell brought his three alleged conspirators 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 used to date a 15-year-old girl — who Stansell allegedly had become involved with — and there had been a series of “ongoing verbal disputes” between the former teen couple that escalated in the physical confrontation, according to authorities. The 15-year-old is among the three minor teens also charged in the case.

Suzette Penton Elijah Stansell Fb Pd

The suspects allegedly banged on the house’s front door, and then Penton's son came out of the side door. Stansell allegedly “physically attacked” the teen before the victim “retreated into his home.”

At that point, Penton arrived home and the suspects scattered. However, she followed them as they got into a van parked across the street, with Stansell at the wheel, according to authorities.

“She began taking photos of the suspects and the van with her cell phone,” the Polk County Sheriff's Office said in a statement. “Though there was enough room for the van to maneuver around her as she stood in the roadway, Stansell intentionally ran into her, then over her, before fleeing the scene.”

Penton was hospitalized with serious injuries and died weeks later, on Nov. 25. 

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

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