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    Man acquitted of kidnapping young killer

    But he faces five years in prison for false imprisonment.

    ©Associated Press
    February 13, 2003


    PENSACOLA -- A convicted child molester was acquitted Wednesday on charges he kidnapped and molested the younger of two brothers who admitted killing their sleeping father with a baseball bat.

    Ricky Chavis, 41, was convicted of the lesser offense of false imprisonment, a third-degree felony. He was sentenced to the maximum of five years in prison.

    The jury, which deliberated for three hours, exercised its right to find Chavis guilty of a lesser offense than he was charged with.

    Chavis, convicted in the 1980s for molesting two other boys, covered his face with his hands when the jury's verdict was read.

    He was charged with having sex with Alex King when the boy was 12 in the months before the boy and his brother, Derek, then 13, killed their father on Nov. 26, 2001, at their home in Cantonment.

    Chavis had faced a possible life sentence for the one kidnapping charge, plus a maximum of 15 years for each of the 10 molestation charges against him. Florida law permits a kidnapping conviction if the victim is under 13 and confined without parental permission for criminal purposes.

    Kelly Marino, the mother of Alex and Derek, was visibly disappointed as the verdict was read.

    Terry King, the boys' father, had reported his children missing in the days prior to his murder. The children were reunited with him on the weekend before he was killed, but were missing again on the day of the killing.

    Circuit Judge Frank Bell said he had no problem ordering the maximum sentence, citing Terry King's frantic search for his missing children.

    "His friend, Mr. Chavis, is supposed to be helping him, but instead of helping him he's the one that's got them," Bell said.

    The state's case rested heavily on Alex's testimony that before the killing he and Chavis repeatedly performed oral sex on each other.

    Defense lawyer Michael Rollo told the six-member jury the allegations were part of a plot by Alex, now 13, and his brother, Derek, now 14, to frame Chavis for Terry King's murder.

    "It was a dreamed-up story to make Mr. Chavis a target so that Alex and Derek King could be acquitted of murder," Rollo said.

    Assistant State Attorney David Rimmer acknowledged the boys lied under oath before a grand jury and at two other trials by falsely accusing Chavis of murder.

    "Just because somebody is lying about one thing doesn't mean he is lying about something else," Rimmer said.

    The King boys and Chavis last year were tried for the first-degree murder of Terry King before separate juries. Chavis was acquitted and the brothers convicted of second-degree murder without a weapon. Bell tossed out the guilty verdicts and ordered mediation that resulted in both boys pleading guilty to third-degree murder. Alex is serving seven years and Derek eight years.

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