Brothers sentenced in dad's beating death

Nov. 14, 2002 at 4:29 PM
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PENSACOLA, Fla., Nov. 14 (UPI) -- Two teenaged brothers pleaded guilty Thursday to 3rd-degree murder and arson in the beating death of their father in a plea bargain negotiated with the help of a certified mediator.

Alex King, 13, was sentenced to seven years in a maximum security prison for juveniles and Derek King, 14, who confessed to swinging the fatal baseball bat, will serve eight years.

The agreement was reached after six hours of negotiations between defense attorneys and prosecutors Oct. 31 and all day Wednesday. It was revealed in open court before Circuit Judge Frank Bell.

The brothers were convicted Sept. 6 of second-degree murder without a weapon. Jurors said they believed the boys did not actually kill their father, Terry King, 40, last November. He said the boys allowed their friend Ricky Chavis, 41, into the house and he did it.

The boys' second-degree murder conviction was thrown out by Bell Oct. 17 on grounds the boys were denied due process. He ordered both sides to go into the mediation process.

Mediation is common in civil lawsuits, but it is rare in criminal cases, especially murder trials. If no agreement had been reached, Bell said he would have ordered a new trial.

Chavis, a 41-year-old 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. They had concluded that Chavis did the killing, and the boys let him into the house to do it.

The boys' attorneys -- James Stokes, Sharon Potter and Dennis Corder -- used comments by jurors to seek a new trial, and Judge Bell threw out the verdict.

In a statement Thursday, Derek King said he had beaten his father with the aluminum baseball bat and that Chavis had helped both of them cover up the crime.

"Alex suggested that I kill Dad. I murdered my dad with an aluminum baseball bat," Derek said. "I set the house on fire from my Dad's bedroom."

He said they called Chavis and he picked them up and they spent the next two days at Chavis' house.

"He told us to say we killed our Dad because Dad abused us. That was not true. My Dad never abused me," Derek said.

He said that before the murder the boys spent a lot of time at Chavis's house where they smoked marijuana, skipped school and slept late. He said "he spent a lot of time kissing Alex while he sat on his lap."

The boys' mother, Kelly Marino of Lexington, Ky., who gave the boys up to foster care several years ago, said she was not happy with the current attorneys' performance at the trial.

Entertainer Rosie O'Donnell hired a celebrity lawyer, Jayne Weintraub, to assist the boys' case and Marino said she wanted to use them in the next trial if negotiations had failed.

The attorneys filed a motion on behalf of Marino for a competency hearing for the two boys before Thursday's hearing, but it was not allowed because the judge ruled they were not the attorneys of record and had no standing in the court.

The boys said they had talked with their mother and other relatives before signing the agreement and felt competent to do so.

Chavis still faces two more trials in the case in February. He is still charged with lewd and lascivious behavior in his relationship with Alex, and with being an accessory and evidence tampering.

As part of the agreement, Alex agreed to testify against Chavis.

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