Charges reduced for man accused in Seminole High student's stabbing death

Arrest made in death of 16-year-old Kaleb Rabun

By Emilee Speck - Digital journalist, Nadeen Yanes - Reporter, Adrienne Cutway - Web Editor

SANFORD, Fla. - A teenage boy was fatally stabbed during an attempted robbery Tuesday afternoon at an apartment complex, the Sanford Police Department said.

The victim was identified as 16-year-old Kaleb Rabun, who attended Seminole High School in Sanford.

Sanford police said Wednesday that Justin W. Seale, 20, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder. The charge was later amended to third-degree felony murder during Seale's first court appearance. 

Seale later posted bond and was released from jail.

Rabun was found stabbed in the chest in a car outside a building at Stonebrook Apartments in Sanford, officials said.

Police determined that Rabun and two friends were at the apartment complex to meet Seale. The two friends, also teenagers, told police that they planned to rob Seale and take his drugs, according to the police report.

When Seale arrived, he and Rabun fought inside a vehicle. When Rabun got out, he had been stabbed and collapsed, police said.

Justin Seale, 20, is charged with first-degree murder.

Police said the Sanford Fire Department provided medical attention to Rabun, but he died at the scene.

Rabun did not live at the complex, which is about 1.5 miles from Seminole High School.

Police said several witnesses, all of whom were teenagers, were interviewed by investigators. 

"We are deeply saddened to learn about the passing of one of our Seminole High School students. The entire Seminole County Public Schools district grieves for the family and entire Sanford community. There are no words to describe the tragic loss of a young life taken so soon. We have placed grief counselors at the school and they will remain in place for as long as necessary to assist any students, faculty or staff members that require their services to cope and heal," said Walt Griffin, superintendent of SCPS.

Sanford police Chief Cecil Smith said in a statement that he was heartbroken by the loss of a young life.

"At 16, our young adults should be focused on enjoying high school, friends, family, and thinking about their future," Smith said. "I encourage all parents to talk to their children about how one bad decision, can quickly have devastating consequences."

At Seale's first appearance Wednesday, which was his birthday, the 20-year-old stood in a yellow jumpsuit next to his public defender. Attorney Larry Kowal told the judge he didn't think Seale should be charged with murder. 

"I read this affidavit and I tell you, I'm looking at it, and I saw three kids who got together who admittedly robbed the defendant and during the course of robbing the defendant one of the thieves gets stabbed and killed," Kowal said. "Why does this guy get arrested? And I don't see that these thieves got arrested. They are still out there."

Sanford police confirmed the two teens with Rabun during the attempted robbery will not face any charges, but wouldn't say what kind of weapon was used in the stabbing or who brought it into the vehicle.

"‚ÄčThat I don't have information on," Sanford police spokeswoman Bianca Gillett said. "Our investigators have possession of the car. They are working on a search warrant to process the vehicle. They continue to interview any possible witnesses and work towards just tying up all the loose ends in this case."

Kowal argued in court that there are just too many loose ends at this point to hold Seale on first-degree murder charges, and the judge agreed. The judge found probable cause but prosecutors agreed to lower Seale's first-degree murder charge to third-degree felony murder. 

Check back with News 6 and for more on this developing story.

Copyright 2017 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.