POLK COUNTY, Fla. – Elijah Stansell, 20, has been convicted of First-Degree murder in the killing of beloved Polk City librarian, Suzette Penton, 52.
Stansell will be sentenced later this year to mandatory life in prison sentence.
According to the affidavits, deputies responded to the scene in Polk City around 2:50 p.m. on Monday, November 9, 2020, and found Penton, critically injured after being run over by a van.
The known suspects fled the scene, but the suspect vehicle information was quickly BOLO’ed (broadcast over the radio as “be on the lookout”) and located by responding deputies and Auburndale Police Officers.
During the investigation, deputies learned that Elijah Stansell, 18 at the time, brought three friends, 16-year-old Raven Sutton, 15-year-old Kimberly Stone, and 14-year-old Hannah Eubank – to the victim’s house to “handle” an ongoing dispute.
The suspects banged on the victim’s front door, but the victim came out of the side door and into the carport to see who was there. The group of suspects ran to the carport, where Stansell physically attacked him. The victim retreated into his home, followed by Stansell and Sutton. At that time, the victim’s mom, Suzette Penton came home, and the suspects ran off.
Suzette Penton followed them and watched them get into their van, which was parked across the street. She began taking photos of the suspects and the van with her cell phone. Though there was enough room for the van to maneuver around her as she stood in the roadway, Stansell intentionally ran into her, then over her, before fleeing the scene.
There were several eyewitnesses to the crime, along with home surveillance videos. The video footage shows the suspect approaching the front door, the group of suspects going around to the side and attacking the victim, the attack inside the home, the suspects fleeing, and the suspects running over the victim’s mother.
Penton remained in very critical condition in the hospital until November 25, 2020, when she succumbed to her injuries.
“This was a coordinated, planned attack, carried out by a group of teens who beat up a teen then ran over his mother, leaving her for dead. I can’t even fathom teenagers doing something so heinous. Our prayers are with this family,” said, Sheriff Grady Judd.