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Monday, July 19, 2010

Justice for Terry King

There are a few things surrounding the death of Terry King in his Cantonment, Florida home on which everyone can agree. They agree that on November 26, 2001, Terry King lay in his recliner napping after work.  They agree that as he lay sleeping he was bludgeoned to death by a metal baseball bat and his house set afire in an attempt to destroy evidence.  Those are pretty much the only facts that all involved can agree on.

Terry King was 40 at the time of his death. Before the boys were born, he had married their mother, Kelly Marino, who according to all sources made her living as a pole dancer/stripper.  

On Vance Holmes site, he includes what appears to be a transcript from an interview between Connie Chung and Terry King's father who states the following: "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".  

In an interview with Larry King Live, Kelly Marino mentions her 4 children.  However, I can find no mention of their names or what has happened in their lives like who they live with, how their lives have gone since they were deserted by their mother, if they remember their father or even if they know he's dead.  

As far as I can tell, while Terry and Kelly were still together, they allowed all 4 boys to go into a boys home because Terry and Kelly were having financial difficulties.  That facility closed a few months later and the boys all had to go to separate foster homes.  Apparently, the only two that Terry ever took back were Alex and Derek.  The mother never took any of them.
When Kelly left the second time she never came back.  Not to live and not to visit.  This left Terry a single father.

Although Terry apparently liked to "farm" his kids out to foster families quite often, by all accounts Terry was not an abusive person and was a hard worker.  The boys said his habit was to come home from work and sit in his recliner and nap.  They have never alleged physical abuse and have indicated that while Terry might not have been a nurturing father and they moved frequently, he nonetheless made sure they had decent clothes to wear, food and a roof over their heads.

When Derek was about 6 it has been stated that he became more than Terry could handle and Terry turned him over to a foster family named Lay.  Derek lived with them for about 8 years.  Derek has stated in interviews that he enjoyed living with that family and that they treated him as one of their own.  However, for whatever reason, Derek began to act out and the family gave him back to Terry.  Within seven weeks after Derek came home Terry King was murdered.

Alex has stated that oftentimes his father would take him to work at the printing company and he would sleep there while his father worked.  Alex didn't attend school regularly and by his own admission had no friends or outside contact for much of his early life.  He and Derek had been apart for so long that they had failed to develop the usual brotherly bond and they neither saw one another nor corresponded during the 8 years that Derek lived with the foster family.  Extended family is never mentioned anywhere as having maintained a regular contact with the boys.  

Other than Terry there was one constant presence in Alex' life.  The presence of a convicted pedophile named Rick Chavis. It's not clear exactly how Rick and Terry became friends or even how close they were as friends.  It is further not known if Terry had any knowledge that Rick was a pedophile. What is known is that in a pinch Terry would ask Rick to babysit with Alex from time to time beginning when Alex was 7 years old.  

According to a handwritten confession by Alex (found on the Smoking Gun website), Rick began a sexual relationship with him at about the age of 12.  Rick lived in a mobile home not far from Terry King's house.  It was filled with video games, big screen TV's  and an assortment of others games and electronics that young boys love.  It was here that Rick encouraged both the boys to smoke pot and it was here that Rick sexually abused Alex eventually convincing Alex that he was gay and in love with Rick.

In this same written statement by Alex, he says that Rick had convinced him that Terry was a "very abusive" father because of the icy stare Terry would give to Alex when he was angry.  Rick gave Alex $20 and a key to both his gate and trailer and said that anytime Alex could no longer stand living with Terry he could come live with Rick and he would hide him until he turned 16 at which time he could decide on his own who he wanted to live with.

This was the crazy mixed up situation that Derek walked into when he returned from the foster family.  He was told by Rick and Alex that Terry was abusive and was convinced by them that the only way out was to kill Terry.  

The timing couldn't have been better for this plan.  After all, I'm sure, Derek carried his own anger and resentment towards Terry for having been given away to a foster family while Terry kept Alex.  It also might appear to a child that just as he was becoming accustomed to a "real family" life, he was yanked away from that and back into Terry's house.  After 8 years, it must have been like going to live with rank strangers.

All the reports that I view and read on this matter have one thing in common.  They all pity poor Alex. Proof of this must include the fact that Rosie O'Donnell and the boys own mother campaigned relentlessly to get ALEX acquitted.  To get his confession thrown out of court.  

A professor of journalism named Kathy Medico took a special interest in Alex and after his release brought him into her home to live with her and her family.  She has also co-authored a book about the entire matter.

No one overtly campaigned for Derek. Certainly no one ever visited the Larry King show or was interviewed by Connie Chung on Derek's behalf.   Lisa Altdan and Dan Daley were the only 2 people to my knowledge who lifted a finger to keep in touch with Derek.  They sent him books and wrote letters to him.  Mr. Daley embarked on the long car drive to Florida from Texas every chance he got to visit Derek and even offered Derek a place to live once he got out which Derek took him up on.  

It was on Mr. Daley's isolated land that Derek finally was given a moments peace to reflect, to grieve, to plan for his future, to dream about what might be, to exhale. 

While I have no doubt that Alex was abused and extremely badly influenced by Rick, I also have no doubt that Derek was a puppet and a pawn for both Rick and Alex in their quest to live together.  After all, with Terry dead and Derek in prison, who would possibly be left to stand in their way?  

Understandably Alex was a child and not responsible for the creation of this conspiracy.  That notwithstanding, Derek was caught up in protecting and avenging his brother and perhaps in the process, avenging his own personal rage against Terry.

The most believed version of what happened comes from interviews with both the boys after their release and from court documents taken at their trials and appearances.

They considered shooting Terry but decided it was too noisy and there was always a risk of simply wounding him and giving him a chance to fight them off.  Then they considered a hammer but they couldn't find one in the house.  So they finally decided on the aluminum baseball bat.  

Derek and Alex both now admit that Derek swung the bat while Alex stood by and watched.  Alex even described the sounds coming from his dying father to the Court.  The Coroner said that Alex' description of the "death rattle" was the best description he had ever heard and that because of this, Alex had to be in the room with him when he died.  He simply could not have made that up.

Once Terry was dead, Derek then went into his dad's bedroom and set the bed on fire.  They then hurried to a neighborhood store where they called Rick who promptly came and picked them up.  Rick drove them into the edge of Alabama and told them to strip their clothes off.  He then put the boys in the trunk with their bloody clothes to avoid anyone from seeing them in Rick's car and drove them to his house.  Rick apparently had a trap door in the floor of his bedroom covered up with a small roll of carpet.  Beneath the house was a lamp and that is where the boys hid on each occasion that the police came to Rick's house looking for them during the two days between the murder and the time Rick turned them in to the police.

Alex states that the first thing Rick did once they got to his house was to wash all their clothes to remove the blood.  He then coached them on what to tell the police and 2 days after the murder, he drove them to the police station and sat outside while they confessed to their fathers murder.

I have read of conspiracy theories as to why Rick wasn't convicted of murder in this matter or of any sex related charges as he was tried before the boys and was acquitted of capital murder and sex related charges.  I have heard that he was friends with the then Sheriff, that he knew things about some of the police there that they didn't want to get out.  Various and sundry theories.  

I, for one, find it hard to believe there was ever such a conspiracy.  The legal system hounded Rick relentlessly until they were able to finally put him away in March, 2003.  He was sentenced to five years in prison for witness tampering (coaching the boys and destroying the forensic evidence by washing their clothes) and 30 years for accessory to murder. 

According to, "Derek King, 14, will spend eight years in state prison, and his 13-year-old brother Alex will spend seven years in state prison. The sentences announced by Circuit Court Judge Frank Bell came after they agreed to plead guilty to arson and third-degree murder in the slaying of their father, Terry King. This agreement represents a reduction of the second-degree murder convictions the boys were given in September and which Bell threw out. The pleas and sentences came out of a court-ordered mediation that reached resolution Wednesday. Attorneys entered mediation after Bell tossed out a jury conviction just before a sentencing last month that could have put the boys in jail for life".

 There was a vast and thundering uproar from the public when it was announced that these two angelic looking children had been convicted of 2nd degree murder and faced life sentences in an adult prison.  Both sides were able to move the boys from an adult prison to a juvenile facility where they served the remainder of their sentences.

CNN also reported that, "(Kelly)Marino's attorneys filed a motion for a competency hearing for the boys just before Thursday's hearing, but Bell ruled that because those attorneys were not the attorneys of record they had no standing with the court to file motions.

"A big issue was made out of the children's competency in court today," one of Marino's attorneys, Ron Johnson, said after the sentencing. "She's not saying they're crazy. She's saying they (were) 12 and 13 years old and she thinks it's only reasonable for them to be evaluated by a psychiatrist before they enter a plea agreement to such serious charges."

Marino told reporters that she believed the boys' guilty plea was involuntary because they "don't know the seriousness of this." She also said she had talked with the boys "a million times" and they had repeatedly assured her they did not commit the crimes of which they were accused.

Johnson also claimed the process was illegal, but mediator Bill Eddins said he was "confident" that the process was legal and proper.

Prosecutor Rimmer dismissed Marino -- who left the family when the boys were very young -- saying the King brothers "would not be going to the state pen if she'd paid more attention to them in their playpens."

Alex was released on April 9, 2008.  When asked if he wanted his mother to pick him up.  He replied quite simply, "No".  He was met by  Kathyrn Medico and to my knowledge lives with her and her family to this day.

Derek was released on March 7, 2009.  He was met by his mother and Mr. Daley.

I watched an update on this story yesterday.  It was called Second Chances and the correspondent was Keith Morrison on Dateline NBC.   It showed 2 very attractive young men.  Alex seemed to smile more readily than Derek.  Derek still shows signs of reticence around others.  His eyes still appear solemn even when he smiles.  

Derek reminds me of a pit bull puppy I found when he was a few months old and had been mistreated by every human he had ever met.  I have had that puppy for over  a year now and still, he mistrusts most humans.  He shakes, growls and hides when too many unfamiliar faces are in the room.  My vet tells me he may always be that way and recommended I put him down.  Rather than putting my dog down, I changed vets.  I can see a small change in him from when I first found him.  I believe there's hope for him.

I would like to think the same thing about Derek.  I would like to think that after a while he will let down his guard just a little at a time until  one day he finds himself with more friends and truly loved ones than he can handle and a life that is filled to the brim with joy and happiness.

It goes without saying that I wish the same thing for Alex.  I just feel that Alex is far more narcissistic than Derek and as such will aggressively pursue a life that will please him. 

So was there justice for Terry King?  Many would say no.  I'm really on the fence about it.  Alex, Derek and Rick either have been or are being punished for their roles in Terry's death.  Was it enough?  I'm not sure.  Is it ever really enough?  Terry was brutally murdered - can anything bring him back or make up for that?  I don't think so.  The best we can hope for is that out of this tradegy there comes some goodness and that Terry King's sons lead a most productive and socially acceptable (and long) life.  



Anonymous said...

Alex seemed very mechanical on Larry King, with Kathryn stepping in to speak as often as possible. He and Derek may not have had "fully developed" brains, but beating a sleeping person with a baseball bat is not a complicated process. Having only born witness to Alex in this one interview,I obviously am not an expert on the situation, but I do not believe he is rehabilitated. His "unofficial" adoptive mother appears to find Alex a filler for some void in her life. (I could also not help but notice she kept a copy of her book on the next within reach, perhaps waiting for the chance to promote it). His insistence that the murder and subsequent trial are detached from his life and "behind him" seems odd, especially because he spent years speaking with Medico regarding the facts--though, judging from her book, "facts" are not courtroom transcripts, but a fanciful version of what might have been. I appreciate what you have to say, but I believe children can be sociopaths (Dahmer is an example), and I believe Alex remains a disturbed human who is deemed saved because he can regurgitate what is being dispelled to him. Beating one's father (even if he is "estranged") to death with a baseball bat is truly heinous. They would have seen his skull split--a sight that would traumatize most pre-adolescents--and yet they kept on until he was dead. Thank you for your comments, I have a feeling after all these years, it's a topic that draws emotion from both sides of opinion.

Ernie said...

I agree and disagree with your take on Alex in that I believe he has a narcissistic personality. I don't think he is sociopath. I also don't believe he was born with either disorder. I believe he developed this very early in his life due to constant abandonment, instability, severe emotional neglect and to Rick Chavis' influence on him at such an early age during his emotional development. Of the two brothers, Alex alarms me most. By his own admission, he is the one who convinced Derek to kill Terry. He also calmly watched as it was done. Also, he has NEVER shown emotion about the incident. During court he dispassionately talks about the murder. He speaks of seeing his father's brains spill out as if he is speaking about watching someone step on a bug. No emotion. For a 12 year old to witness their father's brains spill out and to hear his death rattle and then to speak of it so calmly and detached is indeed a frightening thing. I fear we shall hear of Alex again on Court TV. I'm not certain that Alex has been rehabilitated, nor am I certain that he is able to be rehabilitated. In other words, his emotional defects just may run too deep to cure. As far as I can tell, he is not in therapy and without extensive very long term therapy he truly is a lost cause. As for Derek, I think he was coerced and acted in a state of panic, anger and with false information. I think he regrets what he did and I don't believe he is a threat to society. But that's just me. Thank you very much for the comment.

Ernie said...

Also, I agree with you that Kathy Medico appears to be an opportunist. Had she been a man and behaved like this, flags would have been raised and the whole world would have fought to keep her away from Alex. However, because she throws in the "mother" card, people instead view her as saintly for her role in this ordeal. As far as I can tell, the only thing she has done for Alex was to offer him a place to live once he got out. I did not see her championing his cause prior to his release. I only saw her collecting data for her book. In my mind's eye, Alex is not getting a place to live for free, he paid for that place to live and everything that comes with it when she published that book. But that's just me.