BY HANNAH SAMPSON, hsampson@MiamiHerald.com
But last fall the relationship between John Wimberly, 69, and his granddaughter Teah started to deteriorate, he testified Monday at her murder trial.
``She got very, very defiant with me,'' John Wimberly said. He told his wife they would just have to let Teah Wimberly, then 15, ``do her thing.''
``I'm not going to whip you. I'm not going to put my hands on you,'' he recalled telling her, his voice shaking on the witness stand. ``We've had you in therapy. Can't do nothing else.''
Now 16, Wimberly is charged as an adult with second-degree murder for the Nov. 12, 2008, shooting death at Dillard High of her 15-year-old classmate, Amanda Collette. She has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity and could face life in prison if convicted.
The trial continues Tuesday in front of Circuit Judge John Murphy.
Her grandfather, retired from the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice after a 31-year career, and a psychiatrist took the stand Monday in her defense.
Wimberly sat with her hands under the table, looking down during most of the testimony.
Dr. Abbey Strauss testified that the teen -- given up by her parents, shunned for identifying as a lesbian, a victim of sexual, verbal and physical abuse -- was insane at the time she shot Amanda in the back. Teah had a history of her mind going blank when she got angry, Strauss testified.
Broken by a lifetime of abandonment and abuse, he said, Wimberly snapped when one more person who she cared about rejected her.
``She goes up to Amanda and she's very fragile and Amanda turns her back to her,'' Strauss said. ``It's the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. And she shot her.''
Prosecutor Maria Schneider, who called two court-appointed psychologists to testify that the teen was sane when she shot Amanda, questioned Strauss' finding. Schneider pointed out text messages that Teah sent the day before the shooting telling friends she was going to ``bust a cap'' in someone and asking them to visit her in jail.
``You're saying she was temporarily insane for one minute from the time she pulled out the gun until she pulled the trigger?'' Schneider asked.
``There was a break into insanity,'' Strauss answered.
Although Teah Wimberly has said she and Amanda had been best friends since second grade, her grandfather said he only heard the girl's name once -- near the end of September 2008. Wimberly wanted Amanda to come to her birthday dinner; her grandfather said no.
Strauss said the supposed longtime friendship, which Wimberly believed had turned into dating with hugs and hand-holding, was ``delusional.''
``It's a fantasized relationship that gives her some connection to somebody in the world,'' he said.
Strauss said Wimberly kept writing to Amanda after the shooting, telling her things like ``sometimes I think about killing myself so I can be with you'' and ``I miss you like crazy.''
Strauss said Teah was a lonely child who, according to family, bought lunch for other students so she could sit with them.
Her parents, college students who split up before she was born, left Teah to her grandparents' care.
Her mother brought her to live with her briefly, but she ended up back with the grandparents. Wimberly's father, Jevon Wimberly, is about two years into a 25-year sentence for attempted second-degree murder.
While she got in trouble for acting up in school and saw various therapists over time, her grandfather said, the behavior worsened as she got older. She protested when asked to do chores and became rough with her grandmother.
He said his granddaughter suffered from nightmares over the years and wouldn't sleep without lights and the TV on.
``Up until right now, she's afraid of the dark,'' he said.
Caption: Accused Dillard High School shooter Teah Wimberly's trial in judge John Murphy's courtroom in Broward County Court. Here Teah listens to testimony on December 7, 2009. JOE RIMKUS JR. / MIAMI HERALD STAFF