Patricide in Pensacola
The Killing of Terry King
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Terry King -- no angel, but a decent, loving, hard-working, respectful and respected person -- was 40 years old when he was ambushed and bludgeoned to death in his sleep. On November 26, 2001, Terry was savagely murdered by his own two sons, Alex and Derek King.
Update -- July, 2010
Despite the lengthy list of convoluted lies told by Alex and Derek King, this is a straight-forward case of
First Degree Murder. The killers expressed no remorse at the time of their crimes. In fact, the murderers lied to police and
continued to lie about
their victim for years.
Both Alex and Derek did their level best to destroy the memory of Terry King. After putting him in a early grave, the King brothers continued killing their father's good name and reputation -- at several points insisting he had abused them.
Terry King never abused his young sons. EVER.
Alex and Derek were not abused physically, emotionally or in any other way. The brothers told police those lies merely to establish a sympathetic motive for their murder. When that plan failed, they lied and said they were brain-washed by one of Terry's friends, Rick Chavis.
"He said he had killed my dad to protect us," Alex lied about Chavis. "He was saying that if we took the blame, we would get off on self-defense because we were juveniles."
Although it was finally established that Terry King was innocent of his sons' allegations, authorities never got the defendants to reveal their true motive. Rick Chavis was aquitted of all charges relating to sexual abuse. Whatever his other sins may be, he had no role in the plotting, planning or slaying of Terry King.
What is clear: the patricide was younger brother Alex's idea.
Alex wanted his father dead and set about to convince his bigger brother to physically perform the killing. Derek may well have initially believed Alex's agonized tales of torture. Alex's writings, including his love letters to Chavis, reveal a sophisticated use of language and a flair for melodrama.
The King brothers' decision to set their house on fire was an attempt to hide evidence -- an idea which they got from watching a T.V. show.
To this day, neither killer has accounted for their crimes. Neither has accepted responsibility or fully admitted guilt. They are still telling ugly lies about Terry King, as well as other, perfectly innocent people.
Derek and Alex have lied to so many for so long, they have likely confused themselves about exactly WHO is to blame -- and WHY. The evidence however, is simple, direct and devastating.
Derek mentioned the plot two days before the murder. His former foster mother, Nancy Lay, testified that Derek shocked her when he said he and his brother had a plot to kill their father. "You can't send us back because my brother's going to kill him," Derek told Nancy Lay on November 24. "We already have a plan."
When pressed for specific instances of Terry King's abuse, Alex ridiculously claimed his father would sometimes "stare him down" with "extreme eye contact."
There was no child abuse. There was no hypnotic sexual predator. The only manipulation, abuse and pre-meditated evil in this horror story comes from Alex and Derek King.
was buried Friday, November 30, 2001,
after services at Faith Chapel Funeral Home South.
The way Terry King lived, and the way he died, will not be forgotten.
" . . . People mistake children for objects of personal property. They are not objects, they are little people with feelings and emotions and those feelings and emotions are very fragile and should be protected and considered."
-- Terry King
"Alex suggested that I kill dad. I murdered my dad with an aluminum baseball bat. I set the house on fire from my dad's bedroom."
-- Derek King, 14
"I felt a little sad about it, a little bit sad, a little bit, um. . . a little relieved that we don't have to go through it, what he put us through again. . . the abuse."
-- Alex King, 13
Written by Alex King:
Do not read!
My life used to be cloudy. Before I made friends with Rick I had a lifetime ahead of me and I didn't know what to do with it. I had no goals. I was confused. What to be? Schoolteacher? Governer? (sic) President? What?! I thought that was what life was about. But I was wrong. Rick let me see what I didn't understand. Life isn't about having a job. Life isn't about importance. My ultimate goal in life now is what his is. It is about sharing your life with someone elses. (sic) Before I met Rick I was strate (sic) but now I am gay.
Love is a power
December 4, 2001
The autopsy report is enclosed. This forty year old died as the result of blunt force injuries to the head. The manner of death is homicide. Blood obtained at necropsy was negative for ethanol. The urine screened negative for drugs of abuse. Carbon Monoxide level was obtained showing only 8.7 percent saturation.
Gary D. Cumberland, M.D.
Chief Medical Examiner,
District I, Florida
Derek King, 14
"I told Alex, if it gets real serious that I would get physical with Dad. Alex told me that he was weak and he didn't have strength to fight my father off. If we did something wrong, if we talked back to him, he'd be like, 'When I say something, my answer is final.' He'd be pushing us while he said that," explained 13 year-old Derek King in his recorded confession to Pensacola, Florida police.
Derek said the final straw came when his father, Terry King, pushed Derek's 12-year-old brother Alex, and made him cry. "He was mad because we had run away. I said [to Alex], 'Don't worry about him. I'll deal with it,'" Derek told police.
"I made sure he was asleep. I got the bat and I hit him over the head," Derek King can be heard telling investigator Sanderson on the tape. "I hit him once and I heard him moan. I was afraid he might wake up and see us, so I kept hitting him. I hit around 10 times."
According to Derek's statement, Alex followed his brother around the house during and after the attack. Derek said he put the aluminum baseball bat on his father's bed and lit the mattress on fire, hoping to destroy evidence.
Although both juveniles told police that they ran away and hid in the woods for two nights before calling Terry King's longtime friend, Rick Chavis to pick them up -- police learned that they actually called Chavis a short time after the fire alarm went out over police radio, and that he took them to his home.
In Alex's statement, he explained to police that he wanted his brother to kill "Terry" -- whom he insisted was not his biological father -- because of mental and physical abuse that included "staring us down" and "extreme eye contact."
"I said I wished he was dead," said Alex, who showed police scratches on his arm that he claimed were made by his father. He said he and Derek initially considered using a knife, but were concerned it would not penetrate. Then they thought about a hammer, but could not find one.
Alex told police that he watched his brother attack his sleeping father. "I'm just standing there watching," he said in a calm, even tone. "It was obvious that he was dead. A little of his brains was on the walls."
Alex King, 13
While there have been several Florida cases of children facing adult murder charges, children's rights activist Cynthia Price Cohen says this one hits home for one simple reason. "People look at them and say, `Wait, these aren't gutter children or `those' children. These could be any children," said Cohen, executive director for the Child Rights International Research Institute in New York. "They're so beautifully groomed, and their hair is cut, and they're so pretty. You look at those innocent little faces and wonder how they could do something so horrible."
Amidst the flames, firefighters found Terry King on his recliner, his hands crossed over his chest and his legs crossed and propped on a couch. Terry King was struck with several hard blows, spewing blood and brain matter up to 12 feet away.
In his confession, Alex King said his father's breaths sounded like "a slightly stopped-up nose." He also said his father's face puffed out with each breath.
During his testimony, Gary Cumberland, the medical examiner who performed the autopsy, referred to that noise as the "death rattle," and he doubted whether anybody who has never been around a dying person could describe it so well.
KILGORE: Let me ask you this. How, how do you feel about Terry's death now?
ALEX KING: I have a mixture of feelings, really. The same uh, as I had. Well, after I calmed down it was just, I developed a mixture of feelings which I still have.
KILGORE: Can you describe those for me?
ALEX KING: Yes. Um, I feel a little sad about it, a little sad, a little bit um, a little relieved that we don't have to go through it, go through what he put us through again, the abuse and uh, a little bit mainly, uh, mainly I feel kind of down about it. Because of the fact that you know, it was a death and I saw it and it's just kind of real disturbing.
ALEX KING: The mental abuse was uh ... the mental abuse, it started a long time ago and had been going on for a real long time.
Well, he, he was um, very good. Um, he did a lot for me. He was uh, he kept me well fed and um, clothes, we always had good clothes on and so, but uh, sometimes when he got bad it was hard to get the food but we went through those times.
The punishment for murder and arson is maxed-out at life in prison plus thirty years, and yet Alex and Derek King smiled when Judge Bell reversed the decision of the jury, and ordered plea negotiations.
Alex King, in his green prison uniform, rested his head on the defense table. Maternal grandmother, Linda Walker later offered: "I saw Derek smile. Now we've all got hope"
"This gives me a great deal of hope," said Alex King's stunned defense attorney James Stokes. An outspoken critic of the state attorney's office, Mr. Stokes told the press -- in what must be his hundredth interview this week -- "I'm hoping mediation for both sides goes well."
Linda Walker's daughter, the largely absent Kelly Marino commented: "I'm just very happy. This is what I was praying for."
Claiming that the trial he presided over, violated the King brothers' rights to "due process", Judge Bell called for a plea arrangement, saying the prosecution's case was "bizarre".
Assistant state attorney, David Rimmer, was disappointed by the ruling. He insisted the trial was fair.
"I'm ecstatic," said Dennis Corder, defense lawyer for Derek King, "This is what we've wanted all along, but we never expected it."
If no plea bargain -- to murder and arson -- can be reached, the state attorney's office will appeal Judge Bell's extraordinary, last-minute overturning of the will of the people.
During his testimony, Alex said he loved his father and never wanted anything bad to happen to him. Chavis told them he was merely going to pick them up from King's house the night of the slaying, and Alex said he was upset with Chavis when he told them he actually killed their father.
"I was crying, and I was upset," Alex said. "Kind of angry at him."
The King brothers ran away from home November 16, 2001, and stayed with Rick Chavis at his Brentwood mobile home for more than a week. Derek was found November 24, and returned to his father. Rick Chavis returned Alex the next day.
November 26, 2001
They said they feared punishment from their father, for running away and waited for Terry King to fall asleep on his recliner, before attacking him.
Alex would later admit to hatching the plan while Derek, much larger and stronger than Alex, beat Mr. Terry King in the head up to 10 times with an aluminum baseball bat.
After setting their father's home on fire, the King Brothers disappeared.
King was found on his recliner, his hands crossed over his chest and his legs crossed and propped on a couch. King was struck with several hard blows, spewing blood and brain matter up to 12 feet away.
Gary Cumberland, the medical examiner who performed the autopsy, said it was possible for King to remain in exactly the same position if the first blow to the head was hard enough. He said his skull was fractured in several places, and there were large gouges on his face.
Cumberland said Alex's description of his father's slow death, which could have taken up to five minutes, meant he was probably in the room when King died.
In his confession, Alex said his father's breaths sounded like "a slightly stopped-up nose." He also said his father's face puffed out with each breath.
Gary Cumberland, the medical examiner who performed the autopsy, referred to that noise as the "death rattle," and he doubted whether anybody who has never been around a dying person could describe it so well.
"What he described there would be consistent with someone being at the scene," he testified.
Alex testified that Chavis slowly began getting closer to him, sitting him on his lap at times and explaining his history with younger boys.
It's normal for men and boys to kiss," Alex recalled Chavis saying.
Chavis was convicted of sexually molesting a minor in 1984. He faces a separate charge of a lewd and lascivious act against a minor - Alex - and will stand trial on that charge in October.
Alex said he slept in Chavis' room during the nine days he ran away from his father. He said Chavis also gave him and Derek marijuana and, while he never encouraged them to smoke cigarettes, he never tried to stop them.
That's when Alex said he fell in love with Chavis.
"Rick said he loved me," Alex said. "Said we were different and we were gay."
"He said that it'll be all right because the fire would burn everything up," Alex said.
Chavis returned to the King home about 3:30 a.m., spoke briefly with a deputy and returned to his house later.
That's when Chavis said the boys had to "take the fall," Alex said.
"He said he had killed my dad to protect us," Alex testified. "He was saying that if we took the blame, we would get off on self defense because we were juveniles."
That's supposedly when Chavis started planning out the story for Alex and Derek to give investigators. Alex said they stayed up late into the night smoking marijuana and going over "the plan."
Alex said they continued working on the story all morning, then Chavis turned them over to investigators.
"He went over all the details. He said how to describe it all," Alex said. "Kept going over it until we got it all right."
Alex King testified that Rick Chavis began molesting him when he was 12 years old. Considering that Chavis was convicted of having sex with a minor in 1984, Alex King's accusation is easy to believe.
According to Alex, he was made to sit on Chavis' lap, was told, "It's normal for men and boys to kiss," was given illegal drugs, and was made to sleep in Chavis' room over the week that Alex had run away.
Rick Chavis now faces the charge of committing "a lewd and lascivious act against a minor." Chavis maintains there was no sex at any time -- with Alex King or anyone else. Chavis says he has not been involved in any sort of sexual relationship for years.
I don't know Rick Chavis. I cannot judge him. When he goes to trial and the evidence is presented, I hope it is strong and credible. Despite being called a pedophile on this board -- I have long thought and publicly stated that the adult must stay clear of even the APPEARANCE of a sexual relationship with a minor.
I believe in the spirit, as well as the letter of the laws that address, "contributing to the delinquency of a minor." State sex laws vary, but I know what I expect from a responsible adult, particularly an adult who is close to a troubled youth: I expect an adult to completely sever any relationship with any immature person if they even SUSPECT it may turn sexual. Rape -- which we know is about control and violence, not sex -- is criminal, and the chronological age of the victim makes no real difference. (A 24-year-old intern cannot consent to a sexual relationship with the leader of the free world.)
Based solely on the evidence presented at the two recent trials, I find Rick Chavis to be guilty of "contributing to the delinquency of a minor." I heard no evidence of "a lewd and lascivious act", but admittedly, this was a murder trial about the death of Terry King. I certainly heard no evidence of "masterminding" or "hypnotizing" people into falsely confessing to a crime.
As to the murder and arson charges, my verdict on Rick Chavis is the same as that of the State of Florida, the honorable Judge Bell and the citizens that served on the jury -- NOT GUILTY.
According to the evidence, a few hours before his brutal murder, Terry King told his friend Mr. Tyson that he planned to put Alex and Derek in separate bedrooms and lock the outside of the bedroom doors with dead bolts because he did not trust them.
In other words, Terry King recommended a jail sentence.
Regardless -- the fact is, these charges were not brought by Terry King; they were brought by the state of FLORIDA. These chages were brought because the state has a duty to protect the law-abiding from the criminals.
Had Terry King survived the vicious attack and lived, he would still not have been able to dismiss the case against his sons.
The law itself is heartless. It must blindly apply to all. It cannot, must not, be bent for certain defendants but not others. The King Brothers are not the first 12-year-olds to murder as adults murder, be tried as adults are tried and be punished as adult killers are punished.
The law-abiding people of the state of Florida have spoken loud and clear. Terry King, unfortunately, no longer has a voice in the matter.
An act is a crime because the person committing it, intended to do something they knew to be wrong. This mental state is generally referred to as "Mens rea" -- Latin for "guilty mind."
A guilty mind is the only determining factor. The age, race, background, emotional maturity or limited experience of the accused is completely irrelevant. If they are able to "form the intent to kill", they are able to stand trial for murder.
It does wouldn't matter if the King Brothers were 12 and 13 days old -- if they are able to conspire, unlawfully with "a premeditated design to effect the death of a human being: to wit, Terry King" -- and execute their plan to "kill and murder said Terry King" -- they can and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Now I take me,
a sedative pill,
Fearing my sons,
are plotting to kill.
If I should be murdered
And my house set ablaze
Don't blame it on Chavis,
Or Rimmer or the Lays.
"They're plotting something."
Derek King told police investigators he didn't like the way his father was "pushing Alex around." Alex King reported that his father had thrown him to the ground.
Both Alex and Derek King, in their initial police interview, made claims of emotional and physical abuse against their father in order to explain their plot to murder him.
The King Brothers' police interview was not the first time the two had spoken of their bizarre plot to kill 40-year-old Terry King. According to Alex, he suggested to Derek that they kill their father so that they would not have to live with Terry King anymore, and Derek told his foster parent, Nancy Lay that his father was a "control freak", that they didn't want to be with him, and that Alex had an actual plan to kill his father.
Exactly why Alex King wanted his father dead is a mystery, since, when pressed for specifics, both brothers conceded that Terry King readily provided clothes, housing and food -- and had never actually physically abused them. Alex -- who would later say he could only recall a total of three spankings -- still maintained that Terry King would "look" at him, which he found emotionally abusive.
Motive, as is so often the case, will remain a mystery.
What we do know is that on the very day he was murdered, Terry King told his friend Mike Tyson that it seemed like his boys were "plotting something." Tyson said Mr. King planned to put Alex and Derek in separate bedrooms and lock the outside of the bedroom doors with dead bolts because he did not trust them.
Terry King was right to be suspicious of his sons, but like many adults involved, he probably wouldn't allow himself to imagine these two "little angels" would strike so quickly and ambush him in the night with such deadly force.
Terry King saw the red flags, and looked the other way. He heard the deafening sound of an emergency alarm going off, but he covered his ears and pretended not to hear it. Terry King most likely thought he was showing compassion when he failed to separate the brothers, lock them inside separate rooms and keep constant guard. Terry King was foolish to ignore the warnings. He failed to act and it cost him his life.
Derek King admitted to police that he bashed his father in the head 10 times with an aluminum baseball bat. The King Brothers confessed in great detail, and admitted to setting their own house on fire, in order to destroy the evidence of their premeditated patricide.
The evidence is clear. Terry King tried to keep Alex and Derek away from Rick Chavis. Terry King -- who was bludgeoned with a baseball bat for his efforts-- was nearly to point of locking his sons in their rooms to prevent them from going to see the convicted child molester.
For the record, although Alex King spent a brief period with a foster family, he was mainly raised by his father who never abused him in any way -- except perhaps to "look" at him.
And while Derek was placed with a foster family for six years, the evidence was that the Christian family cared for him very well. It's not exactly "The Brady Bunch" I'll admit, but this scenario simply cannot be described as young tragic lives of forced abandonment.
Even if you do find these facts to describe an abusive childhood -- would you then agree that such abuse in any way legitimizes lying and killing and starting fires?
Furthermore, prior to the savage patricide and arson, Derek warned of the plan Alex had to murder Terry King, and was also heard on a school bus threatening to kill Terry King and others, saying something to the effect:
We're gonna be gone for a while, but then you're gonna hear all about us killing our dad.
And then we're gonna come back and kill all of you.
Those threats alone are very dangerous, but please remember -- the statements were made before the night the King Brothers would later claim that Rick Chavis had brain-washed them.
Q: Did your dad know you and Rick were having sex?
AK: No, sir. Nobody did -- until after I was locked up.
Q: Did you ever say you wanted your dad dead?
AK: No sir. I loved my dad. I didn't want anything to ever happen to him.
U.S. Department of Justice
Bureau of Justice Statistics
About 2% of murder victims are killed by their own children
All the King's Menace
Alex and Derek
Sought out a thrill;
Alex and Derek
Decided to kill
All the King's arson
And all the King's lies,
Could never conceal
Their father's demise.
The day before Rick Chavis supposedly spoon fed a false confession story to the LYIN' KINGS -- Derek told Nancy Lay that his father was a "control freak" and that they didn't want to be with him. Interestingly, he also told his foster mother that Alex had a plan to kill his father.
After nearly seven years with his exhausted foster parents, Derek was returned to his father.
In less than two months, Terry King was murdered in his own home with a baseball bat.
The first blow was so devastating, Mr. King would most likely have died from that alone. Then his house and his belongings were set on fire and destroyed.
That is abuse.
Q: He [Chavis] told you that your father was abusing you?
AK: Yes ma'am.
Q: But you knew you weren't being physically abused by your father, isn't that right?
AK: Yes ma'am.
Q: I mean, your dad didn't slap you around?
AK: No ma'am.
Q: He hardly ever spanked you
AK: Yes ma'am.
"You can't lump all these little children together and say, 'Because you've done this crime you're a cold-blooded murderer,'" Joyce Tracy, the boys' paternal grandmother, said from her Pensacola home, "These are little children you're dealing with."
Linda Walker, the King boys' maternal grandmother, said Florida lawmakers would change their hard-line position on juvenile sentencing if they spent time with Florida's jailed murderers and saw how young they were. "A juvenile has to be very troubled to do things. They're not hardened criminals," she said. "They should have that chance to see if they can be rehabilitated ... They're just kids."
Terry King was buried Friday, November 30, 2001, after services at Faith Chapel Funeral Home South. His family, co-workers and many friends still love him and miss him terribly. Even a year later, they will hear a song, or see a photo, -- and begin to cry all over again at the senseless, undeserved brutality done to Terry King, and their own tragic sense of loss will deepen.
A grandfather speaks out! I am not happy with the outcome of the trial, but I agree with the verdict. I feel that the defense and prosecuting attorneys did their homework.
I was at the trial, have read all, and have all, the newspaper items plus every article from the Internet, plus videos of the trial, and nowhere can I put Chavis at the murder scene!
This was a horrible murder and my son's life was taken. If you commit a crime you must do the time. Derek and Alex are my grandchildren, but I not only believe they were capable of this murder, but did actually commit it, regardless of the encouragement from others.
Chavis' love affair with the boys was not the only motive here. I believe there should be an investigation into a custody battle for the boys that forced my son into a state of fear for his life; youth and adulthood has nothing to do with it - a murder was committed and someone did it!
Now, you writers out there, prove to me who committed this crime and I will be satisfied!
Rev. Wilbur E. King, Milton
WILBUR KING, the father of the murder victim, Terry King, spoke with Connie Chung on CNN following his grandson's verdicts were announced. At one point he explains that he found his grandsons' behavior disturbing. Later in the interview he returns to this subject and again, seems disturbed by Alex and Derek King's behavior -- disturbed and haunted.
CONNIE CHUNG: Sir, were you surprised at the verdict?
WILBUR KING: Not really.
CHUNG: Why not?
WILBUR KING: Well, I had a feeling that my grandsons had a part in my son's murder. I don't hate them. I love them. But I had a gut feeling that they did have a part in it.
CHUNG: Why do you think they would kill their father?
WILBUR KING: Well, there's a lot of circumstance that was around the murder, and their lifestyle, the way they were raised, and even to a conversation I had with them when I visited them in the jail.
CHUNG: And tell us about that conversation.
WILBUR KING: Well, while I was in the jail visiting, when they were first incarcerated, I was talking to the boys, just general talk. And then, all of a sudden, the two boys got into a physical confrontation right in front of me. It was so violent.
CHUNG: You mean with each other?
WILBUR KING: With each other, yes. And they were so violent that an officer had to come inside and stop them and order them to quit, or else we would end our visit at that moment. So they settled down and quieted down.
At this point, I turned to Alex and I began to talk to Alex. And I asked him a point-blank question: What happened the night that they came home? Was there any confrontation? At that moment, Derek put his finger to his lips in a hush manner, telling Alex to keep his mouth shut. And then the conversation changed at that moment. And then a little joking went on. And then finally Alex said to me, "When we stand before the judge, we'll tell the judge that we didn't do it."
CHUNG: Did you, at that time, believe that they were lying?
WILBUR KING: No, I did not. The confrontation they had and the look in their eyes, the fact that he told me that he was reading "Harry Potter" books and "Star Wars" led me to believe that it was even deeper than what I thought.
CHUNG: Mr. King, just a little earlier, you said that, based on the way the boys were brought up, you had this feeling about them. How were they brought up? Can you tell us about their mother?
WILBUR KING: Well, their mother -- what can I say about the mother? When the four boys were there. After the four boys were born, the mother deserted the home and went to live with another man. This man beat her up. And she came back to Terry. And then she left Terry again.
And so my son Terry had four boys to raise, had no one to help except the family. And the family did what they could for Terry, but it wasn't enough. And so the boys did not get the home care that they needed while they were young.
CHUNG: Did your son ever mistreat them?
WILBUR KING: No, ma'am, never.
CHUNG: What did you know about the homosexual relationship that Alex, the younger son, had with this man named Rick Chavis?
WILBUR KING: The only knowledge I had of it was what I saw and heard over the news media and what I read in the paper.
CHUNG: Didn't Alex talk to you about or mention homosexuality when you were talking about going to church?
WILBUR KING: No, he didn't.
CHUNG: I believe you were -- the two of you were talking about going to church.
WILBUR KING: Oh, yes, I remember.
We were discussing, while they were in jail, about church work and everything. And Derek looked at me and said, "I go to the Olive Baptist Church," and said, "They're prejudiced." And I looked at him and I said, "Well, what do you mean they're prejudiced?" He said, "Well, they're against homosexuals." And then Derek looked at me and he says, "Are you against homosexuals?" And I said, "Yes, I am." I said: "It's dirty. It's filthy." And I said, "The Bible is against it." And then I shot the question immediately back to Derek, "Are you a homosexual?" And he threw his arms up and said to me, between his arms, "No, I'm not." And so the subject changed again. And so... I was just wondering why he brought the subject up.
CHUNG: I see. Mr. King, your grandsons just look like choir boys. They look so innocent. I have to say that, when I was watching Alex on the witness stand, I couldn't imagine that he would be capable of what he was charged with. In part, he was charged with coming up with the idea of killing your son, their father, and that indeed Derek committed the crime. Do you believe that two boys are capable of doing so, doing just that?
WILBUR KING: What I saw in that room with them that day that I visited them, I do. I believe they were capable.
CHUNG: But when you saw your grandson on the witness stand, didn't you think to yourself, "No, this little boy couldn't possibly have done anything that awful"?
WILBUR KING: Well, I was rocking back and forth until they were on the stand and the defense attorney was questioning them and bombarded them with questions, especially Derek. And I could understand. And as I watched the boys -- I keep a log of everything that happened off the Internet. And I have got all the newspaper clippings. But the thing that struck me the most was their eyes. Their eyes were dead. There was no emotion. There was nothing but just a blank look in their eyes.
And when Alex was on the stand describing how his father was killed, there was no emotion, no sobs, no regret. And the only time that I saw him weep or cry was this afternoon when they said that he was guilty of first-degree murder. Then I saw him begin to wipe his eyes.
CHUNG: Mr. King, Wilbur King, I thank you so much for being with us. And we feel for your sadness within your family. Thank you, sir.
WILBUR KING: Thank you.
This raises the issue of the proper way to wake up a sleeping man -- in the event of an emergency. Shouting will wake him quickly, but he may think he's still dreaming and be confused and disoriented. Softly calling his name or gently tapping his shoulder may take far too long.
Much of this is covered by Lewis Carroll when he has TWEEDLE DEE and TWEEDLE DUM contemplate waking the RED KING from his lifelong, perpetuate slumber and continued refusal to awaken.
What responsibility do you have when waking someone? This dilemma could be called both, "the crisis of enlightenment" and "Don't shoot the messenger".
Accompanying this dilemma is almost always, the agonizing feeling of Deja Vu.
Oedipus the Tyrant
Laius, an heir to the throne, fled Thebes to save his life, and sought refuge in a neighboring kingdom. There, King Pelops welcomed the young man warmly into his castle.
When Laius reached manhood, Pelops entrusted his son, Chrysippus, to him so that he would teach the boy the charioteer's art. The king loved Chrysippus best of all his sons, and wanted him well trained in the arts of war. Laius did as he was asked, but fell hopelessly in love with the beautiful youth.
During the Nemean games, in which the pair competed in the chariot races, Laius kidnaped the boy and took him back to Thebes where he kept Chrysippus, by force, as his lover. It was not as if he did not know what he was doing. "I have understanding," he used to say by way of excuse, "but nature forces me."
Eventually, Laius became the King of Thebes. The reign of King Laius was cut short however, when Laius was savagely killed by his own son -- Oedipus the Tyrant.
Gerry Patterson and John Reid
Twenty years after they began studying children, Gerry Patterson and John Reid expressed surprise at the results of their own research. "When we started doing research," says Reid, "all the experts said these problems with juvenile violence don't really start until age 10. So we started our studies on 9 and 10 year-olds. Now we've found there is a very strong relationship between the behavior of kids at 2 and 3 years old and delinquency later on. The adolescents who later hurt people and get into big-time trouble are the ones who start being aggressive early." Gerry Patterson, says that of those having behavioral problems in the fourth grade -- such as fighting, stealing, or lying -- nearly half were arrested by age 14. Of those with early arrest records, 75 percent went on to become chronic criminals, with at least 3 arrests by age 18.
Dear Judge Bell,
Wazup? I don't live in Florida so in reality what I think or say has no bearing on the King Killing. But reality has never stopped a bandwagon before, and I write this letter on behalf of the many, many citizens all over the country who are concerned about the shocking murder and arson committed in Escambia County, and the import this case could have on our national juvenile crime crisis.
Here are a few questions, your honor. Take your time responding, I know you're busy -- but a lot of people want answers, and they all have your e-mail addy and phone number. Okay?
Sir, were you mentally ill in the months prior to this case going to trial? The state made themselves clear -- they were using the long held theory of "principle" and "motivator" as it involved Rick Chavis and the King brothers. I'm sure it was in the prosecution's pre-trial documents -- maybe not, but hey -- it appeared in all the papers. Do you read the newspaper or watch the local news at all?
There were only three defendants.
So Judge, why would you wait until Rick Chavis was on trial, sitting at the defense table in front of a jury -- to tell the state it would not be allowed to argue their theory of the case? Are you nuts? When you prevented David Rimmer from suggesting that Chavis masterminded the crimes -- you effectively ensured a verdict of "not guilty", since you well knew the police had confirmed his alibi. You could've sealed that verdict for a year, it wouldn't have mattered -- the state was never going to get a conviction.
And then there were two.
Were you listening to yourself as you made rulings from the bench, as witnesses were called, as stuff was marked into evidence during this high-profile murder and arson case? There must've been daily records and transcripts -- heck, I may even have some old video tapes somewhere -- cause the trial was shown live, on CourtTV! Sir, do you own a VCR?
Gotta ask -- and I'm not kidding cause this is costing us a fortune, both economically and socially -- why would you wait until after the trial was over, and at the sentencing phase, announce that the whole trial was illegal? You were in charge of the courtroom. Remember? Everybody stood up when you came in. If the defendant's rights were being violated, why did you allow that to continue in your courtroom, day, after day, after day, after day?
Double jeopardy is not a television game show, it's a principle rooted in the very foundation of our justice system.
And then there were none.
I didn't know Terry King personally, but I know he died a death I wouldn't wish on the worst criminal in America. I want justice, and I want it now, because justice delayed is justice denied. Terry King's brutal murder must be accounted for, or I, along with several other people, will start a website and hold a rally on the courthouse steps.
Last question: If you thought that poor young lady in the khaki shorts was inappropriately dressed, you could have spared her any further embarrassment by quietly passing her a note, and perhaps later, speak with the attorneys about preparing their witnesses. Look, be glad she showed up at all, Judge, cause we're losing faith in the system real fast, and you're bizarre rulings in the King trial are a big part of that.
"Personally, I don't have time to argue with every little yellow dog that barks along the highway."
-- David Rimmer
King Brothers Sentenced
T I M E L I N E
NOV. 26, 2001: A fire is reported
at Terry King's house in the 1100 block of Muscogee Road at 1:39 a.m. While
one side of the house burns, firefighters find King's body in the other half.
Dr. Gary Cumberland determines at the autopsy that King died of blunt force
trauma to the head, later determined to be blows from a baseball bat.
NOV. 27: Family friend Rick Chavis drives Derek and Alex King to the Escambia County Sheriff's Office, where they turn themselves in. Officers obtain confessions from both boys to their father's death. Derek said he bashed Terry King's head with an aluminum baseball bat. Alex said it was his idea. He told deputies the boys were afraid their father would punish them for running away from home.
NOV. 28: Derek and Alex King are charged with an open count of murder. They are housed in the Juvenile Detention Center.
DEC. 11: A grand jury indicts Derek and Alex on first-degree murder charges. They are transferred to the Escambia County Jail, where they are ordered held without bond. Chavis is charged with accessory after the fact and tampering with evidence. He is jailed.
DEC. 12: Derek and Alex plead not guilty. Chavis' bond is set at $50,000.
DEC. 13: Derek and Alex enter written innocent pleas to adult charges of arson and premeditated, first-degree murder.
JAN. 4, 2002: Chavis, a convicted child molester, pleads innocent to harboring Derek and Alex after their father's murder.
JAN. 19: Deputies catch Chavis scratching a note - "Alex don't trust" - into a cement floor in the jail recreation yard.
FEB. 21: Judge Kim Skievaski issues a gag order for the lawyers. The boys are moved into separate cells after Alex cut and bruised his arms and Derek said he wanted to electrocute himself.
APRIL 9: Chavis is charged with first-degree murder, arson and lewd and lascivious act upon a child, identified as Alex. He is ordered held without bond.
APRIL 25: Judge Frank Bell sets an Aug. 26 trial date for King trials.
AUG. 1: Bell sets Aug. 26 trial date for Chavis. Bell decides that the King brothers' jury will be picked that day as well as Chavis' jury. Chavis' trial will take place first, then King brothers' trial.
AUG. 26: Bell decides to allow testimony about sexual contact between Chavis and Alex in Chavis' case. A 12-person jury is selected for Chavis trial and a six-person jury for Alex's and Derek's trial.
AUG. 27: Chavis trial begins. Derek and Alex testify their confessions were a lie to protect Chavis.
AUG. 28: Bell says there is minimal evidence to indicate Chavis killed King. Bell dismisses alternative principal theory that Chavis aided or encouraged the brothers in killing their father, stating the evidence to support that claim is "just not there." Assistant State Attorney David Rimmer admits, "it is not my strongest case."
AUG. 30: After five hours of deliberation, jury reaches a verdict, which is sealed pending the outcome of the King brothers' trial.
SEPT. 3: Trial of Alex and Derek begins. Chavis invokes his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
SEPT. 4: Alex testifies that Chavis killed King while Alex and Derek waited in the trunk of Chavis' car. MSNBC and CNN break into their programming to broadcast the testimony live. Prosecution rests after playing tape of Alex and Derek offering detailed confessions to Kings' death.
SEPT. 6: Jury in the Alex and Derek King trial finds both boys guilty of second-degree murder without a weapon and arson. They face a prison sentence of 22 years to life. Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 17.
SEPT. 6: Jury finds Chavis not guilty of first-degree murder and arson. He remains in jail pending trial on the remaining two charges. Trial for a lewd and lascivious act on a child is set for Oct. 21, and another is set for Nov. 4 on being an accessory after the fact and tampering with evidence.
OCT. 17: Bell throws out the convictions against Alex and Derek King, saying their trial was unfair. He orders new trials for the boys but also orders the case into mediation. Mediation is common in civil cases, but legal experts say it may be the first time a criminal murder case in Florida has been ordered into mediation. Rosie O'Donnell retains two Miami attorneys, Jayne Weintraub and Ben Kuehne, to help with the appeals process. Alex's attorney, James Stokes, says the two are not likely to be that involved in the case.
OCT. 30: Chavis' trial on accessory after the fact and tampering with evidence is delayed until Feb. 24. Chavis also faces trial Feb. 10 on initiating a lewd and lascivious act on a minor, Alex.
NOV. 7: First mediation meeting is held. Kelly Marino, the boys' mother, says she wants the Miami attorneys to replace the current attorneys and handle a retrial if one is ordered.
NOV. 13: Next mediation meeting is held.
NOV. 14: The teens plead guilty to third-degree murder as part of mediated agreement. Derek is sentenced to eight years in prison; Alex is sentenced to seven. The brothers are immediately shipped to the North Florida Reception Center, where all state prisoners are processed.
DEC. 14: The Department of Corrections angers Rimmer and Bell when they transfer Alex and Derek to the Department of Juvenile Justice. Alex is ordered to the Okeechobee Juvenile Offender Correctional Center, Derek to the Omega Juvenile Prison. On the transfer, Rimmer says, "The lady of justice has been beaten, gang-raped and left for dead."
FEB. 5, 2003: Bell denies a motion to move Chavis' trial out of Pensacola. He also allows Chavis' 1984 conviction of sexually molesting two teenage, runaway boys to be introduced in his trial.
FEB. 11: Chavis' trial on 10 counts of lewd or lascivious battery on Alex and one count of kidnapping the then-12-year-old begins. Alex testifies, detailing his sexual relationship with Chavis.
FEB. 12: Chavis' six-person jury acquits him of the sexual molestation charges, but finds him guilty of falsely imprisoning Alex. Bell immediately sentences Chavis to the maximum possible five years in prison, calling Chavis actions "unconscionable."
MARCH 3: Chavis' third trial begins. This time he faces charges of accessory after the fact and tampering with evidence, with a possible sentence of 35 years in prison.
MARCH 5: Jurors find Chavis guilty of being an accessory after the fact and of tampering with evidence. He is sentenced to the maximum of 35 years.
"The most solid comfort one can fall back upon is the thought that the business of ones life is to help in some small way to reduce the sum of ignorance, degradation and misery on the face of this beautiful earth."
-- George Eliot
The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing."
-- Albert Einstein
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