The King Brothers Received Help Adjusting To Life After Being Imprisoned For Murdering Their Father
On November 26, 2001, 13-year-old Derek King snuck up on his sleeping father and beat him to death with an aluminum baseball bat. Derek’s younger brother, 12-year-old Alex King, was implicit in the plan to kill their father, 40-year-old Terry King. The boys then set fire to their home in Cantonment, FL, to cover up the crime. The boys confessed to Escambia authorities once investigators suspected foul play. Reports alleged the King brothers killed their father at the prompting of convicted child molester Rick Chavis.
The courts charged the Kings as adults and sentenced Derek to eight years in prison. Alex received seven years in a juvenile detention center. Both Derek and Alex were released by 2009, and the convicted killers reentered society after spending a third of their young lives behind bars. Derek continues to live in Florida. After Alex was briefly re-incarcerated in 2011 for a parole violation, he relocated to Texas upon his release. The courts also charged Chavis with his involvement in Terry King’s death, as well as other counts, and sentenced him to 35 years in prison.
Derek Beat Their Father To Death And Then They Set The House On Fire
On November 26, 2001, 40-year-old Terry King was taking a nap in the living room of his home in Cantonment, FL. 13-year-old Derek and 12-year-old Alex had only been staying with their father for a brief time in Terry’s rural home, which reportedly had no electricity. Previously, the boys were in and out of foster care.
In their original confession, Derek said Alex suggested he kill their father, so Derek beat his father to death with an aluminum baseball bat. Afterward, they decided to set the house on fire, hoping to cover up the crime.
When firefighters arrived, they found Terry dead, apparently from blunt force trauma. Authorities took Derek and Alex in for questioning on November 27, and both confessed. They were each charged with one count of murder and sent to a juvenile detention facility to await trial.
The Boys Often Spent Time With A Convicted Pedophile Before The Murder
While staying with their father, the King brothers met 41-year-old Ricky Chavis, who had a prior conviction for molesting two 13-year-old boys in 1983. The brothers spent a lot of time at Chavis's home. Reportedly, they would even run away and spend days at a time there. The King brothers claimed they often skipped school to hang out in Chavis's secret room in the house, where the three would play video games and smoke weed.
Chavis allegedly took a particular interest in Alex. During court testimony, Alex maintained he and Chavis began a sexual relationship when he was 12. He said Chavis told him that he (Alex) was gay and no one else would be able to “understand” him.
After police arrested the boys, they searched the home and found a diary belonging to Alex in the attic. In it, he confessed his love for Chavis, a man nearly 30 years his senior.
The King Brothers Recanted Their Confession And Blamed Chavis For The Murder
During the original court testimony, Alex admitted Chavis told the boys if they murdered their father, they would be able to live with him. Alex also testified that after killing their father, the boys called Chavis, who picked them up, washed their clothes, and hid them from the police in his home.
In 2002, after already confessing to the murder of their father, Alex and Derek recanted their confession and changed the sequence of events significantly. The brothers claimed Chavis was the one responsible for killing their father while they waited outside the house. They also said Chavis told them to tell the police they killed their dad and to claim it was in self-defense.
The courts acquitted Chavis of the murder charge, but he still faced related counts.
Chavis Was Sentenced To 35 Years In Prison
In November 2002, Chavis faced trial for molesting Alex, but there wasn't enough evidence to convict him. The courts dismissed the charges. Chavis was also acquitted of murder charges, although the prosecution maintained Chavis actually wielded the bat that killed Terry.
But Chavis was found guilty as an accessory to helping the brothers kill their father. He received a sentence of 30 years in prison, the maximum for the charge, along with an additional 5-year sentence for evidence tampering. The courts also convicted him on counts of false imprisonment, regarding keeping Alex at his house. He is scheduled for release from prison in 2033.
Rosie O'Donnell Took Interest In The Case And Offered Legal Help
The case drew widespread attention due in part to the young ages of the King brothers, and because some believed it was an unfortunate case of two kids being manipulated by a predator. One of the people who became interested in the case was former talk show host and comedian Rosie O'Donnell.
Once O'Donnell heard about the case, she called high-profile criminal attorney Jayne Weintraub and asked her to assist the King brothers in getting a new trial. O'Donnell, a foster parent herself, has reportedly supported causes relating to children. In an interview, Weintraub stated: "The case was tugging at [O'Donnell's] heartstrings. She was offended by what happened to these kids."
Alex And Derek Pled Guilty To Third-Degree Murder
In November 2002, Alex and Derek pled guilty to arson and third-degree murder. Derek received an eight-year prison sentence, and Alex received a seven-year sentence. They both got a year off of their sentence for time already served, and both were eligible for an early release depending on behavior after serving 85 percent of their sentence.
During the trial, their mother, Kelly Marino, spoke with the press, stating her sons did not understand “the seriousness” of the situation, as the courts tried the boys as adults. She went on to add, "They think they're going to a playground, they really do. […] They think they're going to be with other children."
Prosecutor David Rimmer retorted that the King boys wouldn’t be facing prison sentences if Marino had “paid more attention to them when they were in their playpen.”