Correction: Due to incorrect information provided by the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office, this post initially said Abraham already had been sentenced. He is scheduled to be sentenced March 9.
The man charged with killing a Bowie teenager in what prosecutors said was a misguided, murder-for-hire scheme in 2005 was acquitted of every count against him Thursday, authorities said.
Jarvis Tyler, 26, had been charged with first-degree murder and other related counts in the June 2005 slaying of 17-year-old Stacey Seaton, who was pregnant and 18 days away from her 18th birthday when she was shot in the back of the head in a wooded area near her home. Prosecutors had alleged that a drug dealer friend of Tyler’s hired him to kill Seaton because the drug dealer thought Seaton had set him up for a robbery.
The drug dealer pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and, under an agreement with prosecutors, is set to be sentenced to 15 years in prison, the first five without the possibility of parole, authorities said. But jurors deliberated for less than three hours before acquitting Tyler of every count, authorities said.
“I think it was an extremely fair verdict, and it was a textbook, reasonable doubt case that resulted in a fair verdict,” said William Brennan, Tyler's defense attorney.
In an interview Thursday, Prince George’s State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks said she was “disappointed” in the verdict – which came at the end of a four-day trial – but she felt prosecutors did the best they could in presenting a “very difficult case to try.” The prosecution’s case, she said, hinged largely on the testimony of McDonald Abraham, who said he hired Tyler to kill Seaton for $400 and two bags of marijuana because he suspected the teenager had set him up for a robbery.
In fact, Alsobrooks said, that assumption was based merely on the fact that Seaton had visited Abraham’s house with another man shortly before he was robbed, and the actual robber testified that Seaton had nothing to do with arranging that crime.
“My heart really goes out to the Seaton family,” Alsobrooks said. “This was long and painful for them.”
Alsobrooks said prosecutors also presented evidence that samples of Tyler’s and Seaton’s DNA were recovered on cigarettes at the crime scene, and they showed jurors phone records that showed several calls between Abraham and Tyler before the murder. Still, she said, they were hindered by other obstacles, such as questions about Abraham’s credibility. The DNA match also did not come until 2009, when Tyler was arrested in connection with another crime in Florida.
“We knew it was tough when we went into the courtroom, but you try the tough ones,” Alsobrooks said. “The point is that we do not shy away -- not now and not ever -- from difficult cases, and when you do that, there’s always the risk you run that you will receive a verdict like this one.”
Alsobrooks said Tyler will now be released.