Photo by Juan Dale Brown, SCRIPPS TREASURE COAST NEWSPAPERS
FORT PIERCE — Charged with two counts of first-degree murder and testifying for his freedom Monday, 20-year-old Jacob Brighton recounted seven years of dysfunction, sexual abuse, desolation and repression that resulted in him killing his parents in 2007.
Though initially breaking down when describing how his father began raping him at age 9, Brighton soon regained his composure and testified with conviction for most of the day, mincing few words in the process.
“You wanted to be their executioner, that’s what you’re telling this jury,” Assistant State Attorney Steve Gosnell said.
“Yes sir,” Brighton responded.
“You wanted to wipe them both off the face of the earth at the same time,” Gosnell said.
“That’s correct,” Brighton said.
“Revenge, right?” said Gosnell.
“Yes sir,” Brighton said. “At one point I realized it would never be over unless I did something about it.”
For the first few years, the assaults would occur when his mother was not at home, Brighton told jurors. However, when he was 12, Brighton said his mother walked in while an attack was in progress, then quickly retreated from the room — and the incident.
“She told me not to bring it up anymore,” Brighton said. “She said it’s not something we talk about in this family. I felt rejected and scared.”
That incident, Brighton said, led to a chasm between Penny and her son.
“She let me down,” Brighton told jurors evenly. “She rejected me as her son. She deserved it. She never respected me; she betrayed me.”
Brighton told jurors he lived in constant fear of the abuse and isolated himself to avoid telling people about it.
At age 15, the attacks stopped for “seven to eight months,” he said; however, just a week before the shooting Brighton said his father attempted to molest him again, on that occasion at gunpoint. He also claimed his father was teetering on a violent precipice that would be triggered by his brother’s return home from the military.
“I had to stop whatever my father was going to do,” Brighton said. “He showed me that it would never be over.”
Brighton admitted on cross-examination that he had discussed killing his parents in the months and weeks preceding the shooting and that he was not in any imminent danger at the time he actually pulled the trigger five times.
However, defense psychologist Stephen Alexander told jurors Brighton suffered from chronic depression, a depressive personality disorder and showed signs of battered child syndrome.
“With battered child syndrome, they may see the threat as omnipresent,” Alexander told jurors. “They see things are going to happen, it’s just a matter of time.”
Alexander also told jurors it wasn’t unusual for child molestation victims to remain silent about the attacks out of fear and embarrassment.
“He told me ‘I’d rather have everyone think I’m a crazy killer than to talk about what happened,’” Alexander said.
Alexander’s cross-examination begins Tuesday.