Morgan Leppert was fifteen years old when she murdered an elderly man in Florida. According to court documents Morgan started to date a much older man and needless to say her father was not impressed. The couple decided to run away by stealing the vehicle of an elderly man. However that plan quickly went out the window as the robbery turned into a murder. Once arrested the older boyfriend quickly turned against Morgan to avoid the death penalty. This teen killer would be convicted and sentenced to life in prison with no parole
Morgan Leppert 2023 Information
|LEPPERT, MORGAN A
|Initial Receipt Date:
|Current Release Date:
|SENTENCED TO LIFE
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Morgan Leppert accused in the brutal murder of a Putnam County man in 2009 was re-sentenced this week to life with parole.
Leppert, the self-described “blue-eyed devil,” had been sentenced to life without parole in the murder of 66-year-old James Stewart.
She was 15 at the time, and she and her boyfriend, Toby Lowry, killed the disabled man and stole his car.
Lowry pleaded guilty to avoid the death penalty.
Morgan was tried and convicted, but under the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that teens under the age of 18 cannot be sentenced to life without parole she was eligible for a re-sentencing hearing.
The judge gave her life with parole chances. Her case will be reviewed in 25 years.
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Viewers heard the chilling laughter of child murderer Morgan Leppert in police interview tapes from ITV documentary Children Who Kill. The show saw presenter Susanna Reid meet Leppert, who was labelled the ‘blue eyed devil’ aged 15 when she was convicted of the murder of an elderly disabled man back in 2008. The 62-year-old man named James Stewart, was stabbed multiple times in his Florida home with metal rods and a knife, before being suffocated with a plastic bag by the teenager and her 22-year-old boyfriend Toby Lee Lowry.
Susanna met Morgan on the show as she serves a life sentence without parole, where she states how she was blinded by the relationship with her boyfriend. Asked what she’d say to her 15-year-old self, Morgan said: ‘I wish I wasn’t so naïve and gullible. I wish I could have listened. It was like a dream. It was like every girl’s dream where you have a guy and I was the last man on earth I thought he was going to be with.
He turned out be a monster. He took my life away from me. ‘What stopped me running away from him? I was scared of getting killed, so I let him do what he did because I was scared of him. I wish I was smart enough then like I am now.’
The interview was interspersed with old police interview tapes, where teenage Morgan can be seen chuckling as she confirms her boyfriend is 22
Asked about the age gap at the time, Morgan said: ‘He told me he was going to do whatever he had to just to be with me. But I didn’t know he was going to take it that far.’
Her boyfriend escaped the death penalty and received the same life sentence as his 15-year-old girlfriend, with Morgan fighting back the tears in her taped audio confession.
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A tearful apology and years of good behavior behind bars weren’t enough to change a life sentence for Morgan Amanda Leppert Wednesday in Putnam County.
In a new sentencing, Circuit Judge Patti Christensen still gave the 23-year-old a life term for killing a 66-year-old Melrose man when she was 15.
“I regret every one of those choices we made that night,” Leppert said, also referring to her then-boyfriend Toby Lee Lowry.
“I hope that one day you can find it in your heart to forgive me,” she said, reading from a lined sheet of notebook paper, her hands sometimes trembling.
The letter was intended in part for the family of James Thomas Stewart, the victim who was beaten, stabbed and suffocated in 2008 so Leppert and her 22-year-old boyfriend could steal his truck and leave Florida. None of Stewart’s family attended the hearing.
Christensen said she had no choice under the law but to give the life sentence in the case because Leppert intended to kill Stewart.
Lowry, 30, also previously agreed to a life sentence in order to avoid the death penalty.
Leppert’s case was eligible for review after a Florida Supreme Court decision last year that juveniles involved in a killing cannot be sentenced to life without being given special consideration. She was sentenced to life in 2009.
“I feel constrained that I have to do this,” Christensen said Wednesday.
Stewart, who was born without hands, had been dead for days when his body was found. During the attack at his home, Stewart was having difficulty breathing, Christensen said, recounting what Leppert told detectives at the time.
He asked Leppert and Lowry, “Why are y’all going to kill me?”
Christensen said that was convincing of Leppert’s involvement. Then Leppert was told to find a plastic bag to suffocate the former commercial fisherman.
“At that point there was only one reason to get that bag,” the judge said.
Members of Leppert’s family and other supporters were the only others in the courtroom. Leppert, in a blue prison uniform and shackles teared up and at one point buried her head in one hand after Christensen read the sentence.
Her supporters declined to comment after the hearing that took less than 30 minutes.
Leppert also was sentenced to 50 years each on convictions of other charges of burglary with battery and robbery with a deadly weapon.
Christensen said Leppert’s sentence on the murder charge will be up for review in 25 years.
She noted that Leppert had earned her high school equivalency and a cosmetology certificate while in prison and urged her to continue good behavior to help with that review.
“Be a good citizen in prison,” the judge said.
Leppert and Lowry were caught in Texas about a week after killing Stewart when she was recognized from a nationwide Amber Alert.
In earlier hearings to determine what the sentence will be, Leppert’s attorney argued that the teen was under the influence of her 22-year-old boyfriend and that she was immature and highly submissive. She had no prior criminal history.
“I wish I never ran away with him.” Leppert said in her letter.
She also was pregnant when she went to prison but believed she miscarried, her attorney, Valarie Linnen, said.
Prosecutor Chris France argued in the previous hearings that Leppert was the one in charge, based on observations of a homeless hitchhiker she and Lowry picked up after the murder and who was with them for days. Robert Bruckner said Leppert hit Lowry during arguments and that Lowry was docile around her.
When Morgan Leppert arrived at Lowell Correctional Institution in Ocala, she became Florida’s youngest female prison inmate.
Linnen said she will file an appeal.