Brenden Frank Bridges, 18, and
Adam Blake Staup, 17, both of Wylie, Texas, were sentenced by a judge to 30 years in prison, for planning and executing the brutal murder of classmate
Ivan Mejia, announced
Collin County Criminal District Attorney Greg Willis.
At the time of the murder, both Bridges and Staup were 16 years old. Judge
Cynthia Wheless certified both teens to be tried as adults in separate hearings last summer. Monday, June 8, 2015 both teens pled guilty to murder without a plea bargain agreement. Over the course of the week, prosecutors presented evidence of the facts and circumstances surrounding the murder as well as information about Mejia. Defense attorneys provided testimony from psychologists who evaluated Bridges and Staup and from family members and friends of the teens. Judge
Mark Rusch heard the evidence and on Friday decided and assessed the 30-year sentences.
Testimony revealed that Bridges and Staup finalized their plan to kill Mejia five days before the murdered him on March 8, 2014. Staup sent Mejia a text message posing as Mejia's girlfriend. The message asked Mejia to come to Bennett Road behind Wylie East High School. When Mejia arrived, Staup and Bridges were waiting. Staup put Mejia in a chokehold and began strangling him. Bridges joined in and eventually Mejia lost consciousness. Staup and Bridges then put Mejia in the trunk of a car, duct taped his hands and feet together, stuffed a rag into his mouth and held his nose shut for one minute to ensure Mejia was dead.
From there, Bridges drove them to a wooded area in Garland to hide Mejia's body. Evidence showed that Bridges and Staup dragged Mejia's body over 1,000 feet through the woods to a small creek. Next to the creek was a hole for Mejia's body that Bridges and Staup had dug the night before. As Bridges and Staup were making their way to the makeshift grave, Garland Police were notified of a suspicious vehicle by the woods. When officers responded they found Bridges and Staup in the creek trying to sink Mejia's body.
Further investigation by Wylie police discovered that Mejia was romantically involved with a girl who Bridges was also interested in. Bridges believed that if Mejia was "out of the way" then he would be able to pursue a relationship with the girl. Bridges and Staup developed the plan to kill Mejia to get him "out of the way."
The victim, Ivan Mejia, was a 17-year-old senior at Wylie East High School. According to family and friends, Ivan was actively involved in the Junior ROTC program at Wylie East. His dream was to become a United States Marine. Teachers testified that Ivan was very respectful, liked to laugh and always had a smile on his face. Ivan's mother called him the "sunshine" of their family.
Assistant Criminal District Attorneys
Ashley Keil and
Zeke Fortenberry prosecuted the case and were assisted by District Attorney Investigator