Florida jury gets teen murder trial

Sept. 5, 2002 at 9:34 PM
share with facebook
share with twitter

MIAMI, Sept. 5 (UPI) -- A three-man, three-woman jury in Pensacola will begin deliberating the fate of two teenage brothers Friday on charges they beat their father to death with an aluminum baseball bat at their home Nov. 26.

In closing arguments Thursday, the defense cited a lack of evidence and urged acquittal, and the prosecution argued the boys had a motive.

Alex, 13, and 14-year-old Derek King are standing trial together in the death of their father, Terry King, 40, but will be judged separately by the jury. They are also charged with burning their house down to cover up the evidence.

Rick Chavis, 40, who the boys' said committed the murder, was tried last week, but the verdict was sealed. All the verdicts will be announced at the same court session.

David Rimmer was the prosecuting attorney in both trials, essentially placing him on both sides of the issue. At least two prominent attorneys -- Roy Black of Miami and former U.S. Attorney Kendall Coffey -- have called the case an ethical problem and one of the low points in the history of the Florida justice system.

There is also criticism of the national television coverage of the trial on Court-TV.

Rimmer asked Thursday for the jury to use its common sense. He said Chavis, a convicted child molester, would not have a motive to kill Terry King because he knew that would separate him from Alex, who allegedly was his lover.

Rimmer said Alex did not know that and that provided him with a motive.

"Rick Chavis is a child molester. Rick Chavis is in love with Alex. Alex had extreme feelings for Rich Chavis. He had a motive for wanting to be with Rick Chavis," Rimmer said.

Rimmer also said Chavis is a former volunteer fireman and would have done a better job of burning the house down.

Alex King's attorney, James Stokes, said the fact there was no blood on his client or his clothes showed that he was not anywhere near the beating, because the entire room was splattered with blood. He said the medical examiner said evidence showed Terry King was killed by the first blow.

"The medical examiner said in order for Terry King to have been in that position he had to be instantly killed by the first blow," Stokes said. "The medical examiner said that first blow would have produced blood."

Stokes said blood expert Jan Johnson said under cross examination, "It is most likely the person who struck the first blow to Terry King would have been splattered with blood."

Chavis, whose home was a neighborhood hangout for teens, is accused of having a sexual relationship with Alex. Stokes said Terry King cut off contact between Chavis and Alex and that is why Chavis killed him.

The boys had originally confessed to the killing, but recanted during the Chavis trial and again during their own trial.

Rimmer argued that there is no way the boys could have been coached for their confessions to include the kind of details they provided.

The boys were 12 and 13 at the time of the crime. They are not eligible for capitol punishment because of their age and the prosecution elected not to seek the death penalty for Chavez.

All three face the prospect of life in prison, however.

The murder weapon has never been found.

Trending Stories