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Girls charged with stalking Sedwick plead not guilty | Crime

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Girls charged with stalking Sedwick plead not guilty

Bartow, Florida -- Two girls charged with felony aggravated stalking in the Rebecca Sedwick bullying case pleaded not guilty Tuesday.

The arraignment hearing that was re-scheduled last week for Tuesday in Bartow has again been reset -- this time until Nov. 21.

A high-profile Pinellas County defense attorney with experience in juvenile cases told 10 News Tuesday the felony aggravated stalking charges filed against two girls in Rebecca Sedwick's apparent bullying-related suicide are a stretch.

"I haven't seen the evidence there was a credible threat," said attorney Jay Hebert.

Herbert said neither girl could carry out the threat making this a felony, but he does see fault.

"There absolutely is misdemeanor stalking when people maliciously harass people. Consistently, they get charged with a misdemeanor stalking."

Polk County detectives said the girls bullied Rebecca at school and continued online through instant messaging sites, even after she left the school, telling her she's ugly and she should die. On Sept. 9, Rebecca jumped off an abandoned cement tower.   

When asked by 10 News if these two girls are being made examples of Hebert responded, "I think so. You have an aggressive sheriff taking cases with a high-profile nature."

Add to the mix high-powered attorney Jose Baez, the Orlando attorney who successfully defended Casey Anthony in her daughter's murder case, and Hebert said the case draws attention.

Hebert said if the girls go to adult court on the felony charge they face up to five years in jail, but if tried in juvenile court they would be sent to a residential program for rehabilitation.

Hebert prefers a third option.

"The one thing I hope in this case is there is awareness," he said. "We have to start with education. What is best for these girls is some community service hours to talk about how their actions affected this young lady."

Hebert said if this case goes to trial, prosecutors will face some challenges including proving the girls were the ones who posted those harassing statements and if any of those statements fall under the girls' first amendment rights of freedom of speech.

You can read more about your school district's bullying policy by clicking the links below:

Hillsborough County

Pinellas County

Polk County

Pasco County

Manatee County

Sarasota County


Bullying Prevention tips from the FL Department of Education

SafeCircles- Tricia Norman launches online social media site that protects registered users from bullying. Click here for a tutorial.


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