Killer's lawyer cautions kids about social media
The lawyer who defended a murderer has a message for parents: Know what your kids are posting online and texting. In this chilling story by our colleague Lane DeGregory, lawyer Jay Hebert talked to a group of middle schoolers recently because he was so shaken by the case of State of Florida vs. Rachel Wade.
Sarah Ludemann, 18, was a senior at Pinellas Park High. Rachel Wade, 19, was a waitress at Applebee's. For months, they had been dating the same unemployed boy, fighting on MySpace, sending threatening texts and voice mails. On the night of April 15, 2009, Sarah went to confront Rachel. As she stepped out of her mom's minivan, Rachel plunged a steak knife through her heart. Sarah bled to death in the street.
Hebert said the case made him worry about his own kids, how social media can escalate, so he felt compelled to talk to teenagers about this story. "They used to tell parents to put computers in a common space, to keep an eye on what their kids are doing," Hebert said. "But for you all, the computer is dead, isn't it? Your computers are your phones. I'm going to tell all your parents that they need to keep your phones in their rooms at night. So they can make sure you're not using them when you're supposed to be sleeping. So they can check your messages."
DeGregory writes: Hebert went to visit Rachel on Monday. "She wanted me to tell you some things."
He listed them:
1. No boy is worth fighting for. (The guy she killed Sarah over has never even visited her in prison.)
2. Don't answer angry texts. (If she hadn't responded to Sarah's taunts, Sarah wouldn't have come after her.)
3. Talk to your parents. (If her parents had seen her phone messages, Sarah would be alive.)
If you'd like to read more on this case, Lane DeGregory did an extensive story about the love triangle and its tragic outcome that you can read here. Have some tissues handy.
--Sharon Kennedy Wynne
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PHOTO: Lawyer Jay Hebert, who defended Rachel Wade, warns students about how disputes via texting and social networks can escalate. [JOHN PENDYGRAFT | Times]