The Short of It
Three Florida middle school girls have been arrested for allegedly poisoning their teacher by putting crushed red pepper in her Mountain Dew.
After Jayne Morgan, a language arts teacher at Deltona Middle School, sent one of her students to the principal's office for dumping glue into another child's backpack and for suspicion of stealing a laptop, the 12-year-old girl reportedly retaliated by bringing red pepper flakes to school and convincing two of her friends to help her spike the teacher's drink.
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According to Volusia County Sheriff's spokesman Gary Davidson, the student handed the red pepper flakes to one of her friends, who then poured them into Morgan's can of Mountain Dew, while another friend distracted the teacher. When Morgan took a sip, she felt short of breath and burning in her throat. After a second sip, she poured the soda into a clear cup and discovered the flakes. The teacher later told deputies she had a sore throat and a stomach ache until that evening.
School officials notified the sheriff's office and an investigation was launched. "Our investigation confirmed that felony offenses were committed," Davidson told the Orlando Sentinel.
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The three 12-year-old girls were arrested and are being held at the Volusia Regional Juvenile Detention Center.
Putting crushed red pepper in a soda may sound like a harmless prank. But Florida law makes it illegal to add poison (defined by deputies as any substance that interferes with normal body functions after it's swallowed, inhaled, injected, or absorbed) to food or drinks, with the intent to kill or injure another person, so the girls are now facing a felony charge. They're also charged with a first-degree felony under Florida's Anti-Tampering Act, which prohibits changing consumer products "with reckless disregard" for another person's health and safety.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, Morgan decided she wanted charges brought against the girls, but told NBC affiliate WESH, she didn't actually want them to be arrested.
"I want them to have a consequence that teaches them a lesson," she said in a statement. "I did not want them to be arrested and go to jail. I love my students. They broke my heart. My career won't be the same."
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What do you think—does the punishment fit the crime? Should the girls go to jail for coming up with the plot? Or was this just seventh-grade hijinks taken too far?