Georgia - Sam Poss did not seem hounded by the usual teenage angst.
As a student at Perry High School, 30 miles outside of Macon, Georgia, he was easygoing and unapologetically geeky. Each year he attended Atlanta's Dragon Con, the Mecca of comic and sci-fi die-hards. His father would regularly come home to find Poss had pulled apart his computer, tinkering around with the electronics. Within hours it would be back together, working better than before. Poss was so at home with himself, he would often spill out from his family's home wearing mismatched socks.
"He would just grab whatever socks were available to put on with his shoes and didn't care whether they matched, were the same style, same colour, just didn't care," his father Chris Poss later told the Macon Telegraph. "He knew who he was and didn't care what anyone else thought about that."
The director of the high school marching band, where Poss was captain of the drum line, noted the quirk and declared annual Sam Poss Days, the Telegraph reported. On the occasion, everyone else in the band wore clashing socks.
Poss, a 2016 graduate, was kind and generous, his family would later say, which is why on the last night of his life, when an acquaintance asked for Poss's help with some computer game coding, the 18-year-old readily agreed. "He was a good kid, a nice guy," one of his alleged killers would tell police when describing how he lured Poss to his death. "It was easy."
Poss never came home that night in October 2016. According to authorities, two friends, Dakota White and Brandon Warren - 17 and 18 at the time, respectively - lured Poss to White's grandparents home, where they stabbed and strangled the teen. The pair hid his body in nearby woods.
Four days later, as search and rescue teams combed the area and helicopters beat overhead, White confessed to police. He said he and Warren had made a suicide pact. But before they took their own lives, they decided to take another.
This week, White went on a trial for Poss's murder in Houston County. His defense offered no witnesses, only context, explaining White was gripped by a devastating depression when he and Warren killed the teenager. After 20 minutes of deliberation, the jury returned guilty verdicts on all counts, including felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, concealing the death of another and tampering with evidence, according to 13 WMAZ.
Warren's trial is expected to start next week.
The alleged killers were locked in a downward spiral of despondency. White was a ninth-grade high school dropout, the Telegraph reported. His father is in prison for armed robbery, and he lived with his grandparents. He did not hide the dark places his feelings were driving him. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that in 2015, White left a post on Facebook: "I wouldn't mind taking a knife, shoving it into someones [sic] throat and just watch them choke on their own blood until they die."
Warren was allegedly equally gripped by anger and depression, authorities said. In 2015, he posted: "Who could love you but the mold that sprouts from your cold sad corpse."
As White later told police detectives four days after Poss went missing, in a video confession played for the jury, the friends had decided to kill themselves in a suicide pact by October 2016. "I was just having really bad thoughts," he told police, according to 13 WMAZ. But White and Warren decided to do something else before taking their lives.
"We just figured might as well," he told police. "It came down to might as well see how it feels to kill someone before we kill ourselves. We didn't see no reason not to, we were about to die, what did we care for?"
White told police Poss was picked almost randomly. Knowing the computer whiz was a "good kid," the pair assumed Poss would agree to help if they messaged him, claiming they needed his help with a made-up computer glitch and offering to pick him up. "He messaged right back," White told police.
White and Warren picked up Poss, then shuttled him back to White's house. According to his confession, while in the driveway, White roped a telephone wire across Poss's neck and began strangling him, the Telegraph reported. When the wire snapped, he put he continued choking Poss with his arm. Warren allegedly stabbed Poss with a knife.
As they commenced their attack, Poss asked what they were doing, White confessed. "I'm sorry," White told his victim.
"There was blood everywhere," White told police. The two teenagers spent hours cleaning the car, even going to Walmart to buy carpet cleaner. "Resolve," he said. "[R]eally expensive."
"I knew I wasn't gonna get away with it," he said. "I felt too bad."
After his confession, White showed police where he and Warren had left Poss in the local woods.
At his trial, White's attorney emphasised that the defendant had confessed to police and helped fill in the last moment's of Poss's life. "
"His young life was so full of darkness that he thought suicide was the only option," defense attorney Angie Coggins told the jury. "What Dakota did was wrong, but in the end, he did right. . . . He confessed his sin."
White is set to be sentenced after Warren's trial.