King Brothers conviction overturned

PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) ÷ A judge Thursday threw out the convictions of two boys found guilty in the slaying of their father, who was bludgeoned with a baseball bat as he slept.

Circuit Judge Frank Bell ordered prosecutors and defense attorneys to try to resolve the case. He said he would order a new trial for Alex and Derek King, ages 13 and 14, if the talks failed.

Alex was 12 and Derek 13 on Nov. 26 when their father was killed and his house set on fire in nearby Cantonment.

The brothers were facing prison terms of 20 years to life under state sentencing guidelines because they were tried as adults rather than juveniles. They were convicted of arson and second-degree murder without a weapon.

The victim, Terry King, 40, died from blows to the head with an aluminum baseball bat. The six-member jury concluded an adult co-defendant, Ricky Chavis, wielded the weapon but that the boys were accomplices by letting him in the house.

Jury forewoman Lynne Schwarz said at a courthouse rally for the boys prior to the hearing that she never thought the jury’s verdict would result in prison time for the boys.

“We always thought that there was going to be some kind of rehabilitation, that the boys were going to be taken somewhere where they could have a new life and learn to be productive citizens,” said Schwarz, 52. “We never thought that these boys committed the crime. Never.”

Jurors were shocked when they found out a separate jury had acquitted Chavis, a convicted child molester, a week before the boys were tried, Schwarz said. His verdict was sealed until the brothers’ trial ended.

Both juries heard detailed taped confessions the boys gave police after the killing, but both said Chavis had nothing to do with it.

The brothers later changed their story, claiming Chavis committed the murder while they hid in the trunk of his car. Both testified against him but only Alex took the witness stand in the boys’ trial.

Chavis is facing two more trials. One is on a charge of sexually molesting Alex and the other is on charges of evidence tampering and being an accomplice after the fact to murder.

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