Teen's brutal murder motivated by jealously, sheriff says

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Deputies say Monday’s deadly beating of a Lake Wales teenager was motivated by jealousy over a girlfriend.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd explained the case against 16-year-old Dillen Murray on Tuesday. Detectives say Dillen initially told them he was attacked in the woods by Giovanni Diaz on Monday, but the teen later confessed that he brutally beat his friend with a T-ball bat.

Investigators say Dillen admitted he was angry that Giovanni had told him that he’d had relations with a girl Dillen was in love with.   They believe Dillen asked his friend to meet him in the woods, then confronted him.

“Dillen admitted viciously hitting Gio at least nine times in the head and face with the baseball bat,” Sheriff Judd stated.

Dillen called 911 claiming that he’d been attacked, but when detectives pointed out that he did not have evidence of any defensive injuries, he allegedly changed his story.

"It was all crafted as a result of jealousy and anger,” Judd added.

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Sheriff Judd said the boy, who was known as Gio to his friends and family, had never been in trouble, was a good student and a good kid, which he said adds to the sadness of this case. 

Polk County superintendent Jacqueline Byrd echoed that sentiment, saying Gio was a joy to teach, and he had a very bright future ahead of him that ended brutally.

Dillen Murray -- who had previously been arrested for battery three times, including an attack on Gio -- is being charged with one count of first-degree murder.