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Mediation set in Fla. teen patricide case

  |   Nov. 6, 2002 at 5:48 PM
PENSACOLA, Fla., Nov. 6 (UPI) -- The strange legal meandering in the case of two young teens accused of beating their father to death last November and then burning their house down to cover up evidence will take another turn Thursday when a court-ordered mediation process begins in Pensacola, Fla.

The mediation will be aimed at reaching a plea agreement for the boys, whose second-degree murder conviction was thrown out by Circuit Judge Frank Bell on Oct. 17 on the grounds the boys were denied due process.

The mediation could determine what punishment will be given to Alex King, 13, and Derek King, 14, who had faced the possibility of 20 years to life in prison. But nobody knows for sure what will take place, including prosecutor David Rimer.

"This is all new to me. I'm sort of in the dark," Rimer said.

Alex King's attorney James Stokes was more colorful, but said essentially the same thing.

"Someone asked me what I expected to happen in the mediation of this case and I told them that after everything else that's gone on, I fully expect the mediator's head to split open and aliens to come out," Stokes said.

Alex and Derek King were convicted on Sept. 6 of second-degree murder without a weapon. Jurors said they believed the boys did not actually kill their father, but allowed their friend Ricky Chavis, 41, into the house and he did it.

Chavis, a convicted child molester who allegedly had been having sexual relations with the younger brother, had also been charged with the murder. But a different jury had acquitted him a week before the boys' trial. The verdict had been sealed and was read after both verdicts had been reached.

Many of the jurors in the boys' trial were upset when they learned Chavis was found innocent.

"I thought, 'How could Chavis not be guilty?' We figured he did it," said jury foreman Lynn Schwarz. "We re-enacted the scenario based on that and we figured the boys would get 10 or 12 years at the most."

The boys' attorneys used comments by jurors to seek a new trial, and that's when Judge Bell threw out the verdict and set up the mediation.

The case became even more bizarre when entertainer Rosie O'Donnell hired a celebrity lawyer, Jayne Weintraub, to assist the boys' case.

Weintraub clashed with the defense team and is not expected to take part in the mediation. But if no agreement is reached, she said she will represent the boys in a new trial.

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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