FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — By the time the jury reached its
guilty verdict Wednesday, it knew plenty about accused murderer Teah Wimberly,
but little of the 15-year-old classmate she shot at their high school.
They never saw anything other than an autopsy photo of
Amanda Collette, the pretty, popular straight-A student and ballet dancer who
died after a bullet entered her back, passed through her lung and lodged in her
“A lot of the trial was not about Amanda. It was about
Teah,” Collette’s father, Anthony Thompson, said after the verdict.
“Nobody knows who Amanda was.”
After nearly three hours of deliberations, a panel of six
jurors convicted Wimberly, 16, of second-degree murder for the Nov. 12, 2008,
shooting at the Fort Lauderdale school. She now faces the possibility of life
For a week straight, jurors heard about Teah, left to her
grandparents at 6 weeks old, sexually molested by a family member at 6,
severely beaten by a mother with bipolar disorder and a father now serving a
25-year prison sentence for attempted murder. She was shunned by her family
when she came out as a lesbian.
There was relatively little said in court about her victim.
On Wednesday, Amanda’s father mused about the young life
snuffed out and what might have been. Had she not been so considerate of
others, he said, she might still be here today.
Collette, a dancer since 3, was angling for a sweet 16 party
and a new car for her April 5 birthday. She was an aspiring college student who
had received letters of interest from Florida State University and University
of Florida, he said.
She was taught to nurture kindness and friendliness, he
“Amanda’s whole thing was people who were friendless,
she was always trying to build up their self esteem and I think this is what
got Amanda into the situation she was in (with Teah),” Thompson said.
“She was befriending someone who had no one.”
Prone to angry outbursts and mood swings, Wimberly obsessed
over her affections for Collette and lashed out when she felt rejected by her
fellow magnet arts student, according to court testimony.
She sliced her arms with a razor blade more than 90 times on
the eve of the shooting.
“We do feel for Teah because of her age, but under the
man’s law she had to pay the price,” Thompson said. “We are forgiving
and she is a kid, but we’ll never see Amanda again.”
The loss and its effects are great, Thompson said. He thinks
of his daughter daily. His wife can no longer sleep nights, only during the
day, he said.
Wimberly told police she and Collette had been best friends
since second grade and she was in love with her. She said that after a five-day
romance of hugs and “I love yous,” Collette broke up with her for no
reason and she shot her because she wanted her to feel the pain that she was
Neither Wimberly’s nor Collette’s families had heard mention
of the other more than once over the years.
“On my watch, I lost a kid who was on track to be a great
person,” Thompson said. “You’re always gonna say, ‘Why my kid?’
(Wimberly) was a loaded cannon, and if it wasn’t my kid, it was gonna be
someone else’s kid.”
Wimberly’s lawyer had asked the jury to acquit the prolific
poet and talented horn player by reason of insanity.
Broward Circuit Judge John Murphy did not set a sentencing
date, but it’s likely to come in six weeks.
Via McClatchy-Tribune News Service.