Man pleads during murder trial

Published 5:12 am Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Special to The Daily News

Jacob Eli Middleton, Jr., 20, of Abita Springs, abruptly pleaded guilty Friday, Oct. 28, to two counts of manslaughter for killing his half-sister and their father in Abita Springs early last year.

According to information from the office of District Attorney Warren Montgomery, Middleton was sentenced to a total of 70 years in prison — 35 years on each of the manslaughter charges, which are to be served consecutively. He will not be eligible for probation, parole, or suspension of sentence until after he serves the first 35 years.

The plea agreement brought an unexpected end to Middleton’s first-degree murder trial for the deaths of 2-year-old Makayla Middleton and her father, Jacob Middleton Sr. The trial began Thursday, after three days of jury selection. But after sitting through nearly two days of emotional testimonies and evidence, family members of both victims and the defendant stated in court Friday that they support the terms of the plea agreement.

“These are difficult cases to resolve,” Montgomery said. “The victims are no longer here to speak for themselves, but their family members, who have endured unimaginable suffering, believe that this is the best resolution of this tragic case. In accordance with their wishes and in the interests of justice, I’ve agreed to this plea.”

Jacob Jr., who was 17 at the time, shot his father and half-sister each in the head as they lay sleeping on an air mattress last year between Jan. 3 and Jan. 5 in Jacob Middleton Sr.’s home on Carnation Street in Abita Springs. The father had planned to spend that Saturday afternoon watching a Saints playoff game with his children, followed the next day by pizza and games at Chuck E. Cheese’s.

But those plans went awry, and Jacob Sr. did not show up at work or drop Makayla off at her mother’s home on the morning of Jan. 5. That prompted Kellie Bravo, Makayla’s mother, who lived in New Orleans, to drive with two friends to Jacob Sr.’s home, where they discovered the two bodies.

“I went through hell,” Bravo said in a statement just before Jacob Jr.’s sentencing. “I don’t feel bad for him. He knew exactly what he was doing … He was jealous of his little sister.”

Several members of Jacob Jr.’s family, including his grandmother, Mary Chavis, Jacob Sr.’s mother, said the young man had a difficult upbringing and was also a victim. But after accepting the plea, Ad Hoc Judge Bruce Bennett told Jacob Jr. that people should be accountable for their actions, no matter what age.

“I have grave concern about who you are on the inside,” Bennett said.

Bennett said it was evident that the murders had ripped the family apart. Jacob Jr. had been given a second chance to better himself, even though he will be incarcerated, and that he “should feel obligated to make every effort to right the wrongs that have been done.”