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Florida man found guilty of murder in teen's violent death

By Barbara Liston

ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - A Florida man was found guilty on Tuesday of first-degree murder in a 2011 case of a teen who was lured by text message to an ambush where he was shot, dismembered and incinerated.

Michael Bargo, now 21, faces the death penalty for killing 15-year-old Seath Tyler Jackson whose remains were shoveled into paint cans and discarded, according to an arrest affidavit.

The jurors will return to the courtroom at a later date to begin a second phase of the trial to determine whether Bargo is sentenced to death as requested by prosecutors or to life in prison.

Four co-defendants, including two teenage girls, previously admitted their roles in the murder and are serving life prison sentences, according to court records. Their statements helped authorities piece together what happened.

According to an arrest affidavit, the two girls, then-18-year-old Charlie Kay Ely and 15-year-old Amber Wright, helped lure Jackson via text message to a home in Summerfield, northwest of Orlando.

Bargo, along with then-16-year-old Kyle Hooper and 20-year-old Justin Soto, beat and shot Jackson, put him in a bathtub and tried to break his kneecaps so he could be folded and stuffed in a sleeping bag, according to a report by Marion County Sheriff.

When they noticed Jackson was still alive, Bargo shot him again and they threw his body in the sleeping bag into a fire pit that had been lit before Jackson arrived, authorities said. His remains were put into paint cans.

Two days later, Hooper told his mother what happened and later told investigators the house was cleaned with bleach. Investigators found no clear motive other than that Bargo allegedly did not like Jackson.

After both sides rested in the trial, Bargo changed his mind and asked to testify on his own behalf.

Bargo's lawyer, Charles Holloman, argued to the jury that his client was guilty but not of the premeditated first-degree murder as charged.

(Editing by Kevin Gray and Cynthia Osterman)

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