A 16-year-old Florida boy is suspected of beating his friend to death with a baseball bat, authorities said, alleging that the teen was jealous of his friend's relationship with a girl.
Police say the suspect persuaded friend Giovanni Diaz, 15, to go into a wooded area Monday afternoon, where the teen "viciously beat and killed Giovanni with a baseball bat," Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said at a news conference Monday. He hit Giovanni at least nine times, Judd added.
As the suspect emerged from the woods, authorities say he told a witness, "I hit my friend with a baseball bat," according to Sheriff Judd.
The witness told the teen to go home and call 911, Judd said. The suspect did so, allegedly confessing to hitting his friend with the bat, Judd said. After he dialed 911, police say the teen agave an "elaborate" defense about protecting himself, which Sheriff Judd called a lie.
The teen allegedly told a responding officer that he had "wailed" on his friend with a bat, Judd said, and the suspect was taken into custody.
At a news conference today, Judd called the beating premeditated; he said Giovanni had "relations" with a girl the suspect liked and "that made him mad."
Police say the suspect told someone several days ago, "I wonder what it's like to murder someone," Judd said today.
The sheriff has released the suspect’s name but ABC News is not naming him because he is a minor.
The suspect is home-schooled while Giovanni, an eighth-grader, attended a middle school, but both lived in the same community, Judd said. The "suspect referred to them as friends," Judd said, adding that they had known each other for a long time.
The alleged victim "has absolutely no previous run-ins with the law," Judd said, but the suspect was charged two years ago with two counts of battery for allegedly battering two people, including Giovanni.
The suspect also was charged with domestic battery last year for allegedly battering his father, Judd said.
The suspect has been charged with one count of first-degree murder and one count of possession of marijuana. Police are requesting that he be tried as an adult; the State Attorney’s Office will make that decision at a later time, Judd said.