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4 students charged with homicide in Florida

A disturbing case has garnered a great deal of media attention in the state of Florida. A young man was killed in a horrific act, and four young people now stand accused of homicide in the matter. Many across the state are struggling to come to terms with how such a violent act could have taken place and are waiting for answers as details continue to emerge.

Police assert that the four students, ranging in age from 18 to 20, planned the crime for weeks before luring a 17-year-old boy into a wooded area near the campus of the Homestead Job Corps. It is alleged that they dug a grave and hid a machete in the area prior to the incident. Once the boy was in the woods, police believe that three young men began striking him with the machete, while the young woman in the group was nearby. The boy was ordered into the grave, and the others began filling the hole with dirt while he was still alive. They then burned their clothing and the boy's belongings before leaving the scene.

When an incident of this magnitude takes place, it is hard for anyone to understand what series of events might have led to such a violent act. It is easy to rush to judgment and call for retribution for the violence and loss of life. However, it is important to note that in many such cases, details eventually emerge that serve to shed light on the circumstances that preceded an act of violence.

In some cases, a history of extreme bullying leads young people to respond with violence. Other times, it is an act of sexual assault that spurs an attack. Investigations sometimes reveal a history of serious mental health issues on the part of individuals accused of homicide or other violent crimes. Nothing excuses an attack of this magnitude, but there are sometimes circumstances that clarify why such a choice was made. In this Florida case, it is simply too soon to know if any of these factors contributed to the attack that left one young person dead, and four others at risk of spending the majority of their lives in prison.  

Source: nydailynews.com, "Four Florida students hack boy, 17, with machete, bury him alive before two have sex near murder scene", Rachelle Blidner, Aug. 20, 2015

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