St. Petersburg Times Online: News of Florida

Weather | Sports | Forums | Comics | Classifieds | Calendar | Movies

Mother says son admitted to killing

The estranged mother of two teens accused of killing their father testifies that one son told her they did it.

©Associated Press

August 29, 2002

The estranged mother of two teens accused of killing their father testifies that one son told her they did it.

PENSACOLA -- The mother of the two boys, both charged with murdering their father, testified Wednesday that one of her sons admitted to her that the brothers were guilty.

Jurors in the trial of an adult co-defendant also heard tape recordings of confessions from Alex and Derek King, ages 13 and 14, made to Escambia County sheriff's deputies the day after their father, Terry King, 40, was beaten to death with an aluminum baseball bat.

The confessions contradict testimony the brothers gave Tuesday at the trial of family friend Ricky Chavis, 40, also charged with being the killer. Both boys testified that the convicted child molester killed their father and then set their house on fire while they hid in the trunk of Chavis' car.

Firefighters found Terry King's body inside the burning house in nearby Cantonment on Nov. 26.

Kelly Marino of Lexington, Ky., told jurors Wednesday that when she visited her sons in a juvenile detention center shortly after their arrest she asked Derek whether the brothers killed their father.

Marino said Derek hesitated and then casually said that "they killed him and they hitchhiked to Pace," a nearby town where Derek's former foster parents live.

The story about going to Pace later proved untrue as Chavis admitted that he picked up the boys and took them to his house in Pensacola.

Terry King and Marino were never married. She left him and the boys when they were young. Derek then spent nearly seven years with a foster family until he rejoined his father and Alex two months before the killing.

Marino was among the first defense witnesses to testify after the prosecution rested earlier Wednesday.

Circuit Judge Frank Bell agreed to let the trial continue, although he said the case against Chavis was weak. He also ruled that the jury could find him guilty only if it concludes he was the perpetrator.

Chavis and the King brothers each are charged with first-degree murder and arson. The boys will be tried as adults next week. The only penalty possible on the murder charges is life in prison without parole. Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty for Chavis, and the boys are too young to face capital punishment.

By the time Marino saw the boys at the detention center they already had told investigators they killed their father.

"I hit him once and then I heard him moan and then I was afraid that he might wake up and see us so I just kept on hitting him," Derek said in his taped statement. "Hit him somewhere around 10 times."

The tapes were introduced Wednesday by the defense during cross-examination of prosecution witness John Sanderson, one of the deputies who questioned the boys.

Sanderson testified that the boys' statements included details that could only have come from someone at the crime scene.

The boys testified Tuesday that they confessed to protect Chavis. Alex told the jury he had been in love with him.

© Copyright, St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.