A 13-year-old Florida girl charged in connection with the savage beating of her friend said Thursday she did not think the boy charged with the assault would follow through on texted threats of violence.
“If I knew he was going to do it, then I probably would have done something about it,” Kayla Manson told TODAY’s Meredith Vieira in New York. “I wouldn’t really hurt somebody, and wouldn’t help someone hurt somebody.”
Manson is a central figure in the case that shocked the nation on March 24, when 15-year-old Wayne Treacy attacked fellow Deerfield Beach Middle School student Josie Ratley, also 15, while she was waiting for her school bus. The attack followed an exchange of text messages that began with Ratley telling Treacy that he shouldn’t be seeing her friend, Manson.
Treacy told police he snapped when Ratley made a reference to his deceased older brother, who committed suicide last year. After texting Ratley that he was going to kill her, he put on his steel-toed boots and rode his bike three miles to the school.
Treacy did not know Ratley and asked Manson to identify her for him. After pointing out her friend, Manson said she got on the bus to go home and did not see what happened next. Treacy threw Ratley to the ground, pounded her head against the concrete sidewalk and kicked her repeatedly with the steel-toed boots.
Ratley somehow survived the attack.
‘Thought he would never touch a girl’
Manson said when Treacy asked her to point out Ratley, he didn’t say he intended to kill her.
“I thought he would probably just curse her out or yell at her, embarrass her,” she said. “I thought he would never touch a girl.”
Manson told Vieira she did not see the texts that threatened her friend with death. Vieira asked which texts she did see.
“The one where she calls him a rapist, and … he calls her a c---,” she said, casually using the vulgar term. When she repeated the word, Vieira had to tell her, “We just have to be careful with our language.”
Vieira later apologized to viewers, saying, “It’s really not Kayla’s fault. I asked her about the text message, and she … was giving me verbatim what was in it. She didn’t know there are certain words you can’t say on television.”
Jonathon Marne, one of Manson’s two attorneys, joined her for the interview and pointed to Manson’s casual use of the word as evidence that kids don’t view language and threats the same way as adults do.
“These terms, unfortunately, are part of common vernacular in middle school. These children speak in ways that adults would not find appropriate,” Marne said. “You’ll hear one child threaten another child, ‘Oh, if you do that, I’ll kill you.’ They don’t take these things seriously.”
Manson was charged as a juvenile in the attack and spent 30 days in jail before her family could arrange bail.
“She’s been charged as a principal. She’s been charged as though she actually committed this act,” Marne said.
Treacy was charged as an adult with first-degree attempted murder and remains in jail.
Threats against Manson
Manson’s now staying with her aunt, Tristine Scott, with whom she had been living before the attack. She said she’s afraid to go back to school and has received death threats on the Internet.
“I can’t see my friends anymore. I can’t go to school. I’m scared to walk outside,” Manson said.
“I don’t want to take her anywhere because of the threats. I don’t want to take her anywhere where she can actually be with friends, be with kids her own age,” Scott said. “She’s stuck at home most of the time or with family — family things only.” Video: ‘Vist ur dead brother’ made teen snap?
Scott suffers from non-Hodgkins lymphoma and has a developmentally disabled son, whom Manson cares for, getting him on and off the bus, making sure he has his snacks and taking care of other needs.
“She’s my lifeline,” Scott said of Manson. “She takes care of my son like it’s her little brother. Without her I struggled. I had major problems. I had to do most of the care myself.”
If Manson is convicted, she could be sentenced to a juvenile jail until she’s 21, but her other attorney, Regina Tsombanakis, told Vieira the legal team hopes to avoid that.
“We are working toward not having that happen, and hopefully that will be the outcome of the case,” Tsombanakis said.
Ratley is now at home rehabilitating from massive brain injuries. She is relearning how to talk, brush her teeth and do other common tasks and has a long recovery period ahead. Her family released a nearly four-minute video of her smiling and opening gifts after her May 25 homecoming.
Manson has not been allowed by the court to apologize to Ratley or speak to her at all. Vieira asked Manson what she would tell her friend if she could.
“I’m sorry that this happened. If I knew he would do this I wouldn’t have pointed her out,” she said. “I love her, and I really miss her.”
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