Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Murder of Terry King

Ricky Chavis's trial


Ricky Chavis's trial took place in August 2002. It took just four days of hearings and five hours of deliberation for the jury to reach its decision; but their verdict would only be announced after the boys' trial later that month.

Richard Chavis
Richard Chavis
Circuit Judge Frank Bell, who would also preside over the boys' trial, had quickly dismissed a charge accusing Chavis of acting as a principal in the murder. Bell announced he would only accept a verdict based on proof that Chavis has committed the murder himself. The jury couldn't convict him as just the mastermind behind the boys' actions.

Chavis' brother Michael told the jury that he was with his brother when they heard news of the fire on his police scanner. Then Ricky Chavis got a telephone call. He left and came back with the boys. Then, Michael said, Derek King told him in graphic detail about killing his father and setting fire to the house.

Lead homicide detective Terry Kilgore told the jury he had no evidence that Chavis had been involved with the murder.

Defense attorney Mike Rollo produced witnesses who said that the boys told them that they planned and committed the crime, including a jail mate, Darrin Mathis, and a friend of their mother, Theresa Shumake. She said that, meeting their mother after their father's funeral, the boys at first didn't even recognize her, but that they quickly opened up and broke down, telling her all about murdering their father.

Alex (r) and Derek King
Alex (r) and Derek King
The boys testified with immunity in the trial; their statements couldn't be used in their own prosecutions. They told the jury that they'd called Chavis for a ride on November 25 after a fight with their father. When he arrived, they said, he told the boys to hide in the trunk of his car while he went inside the house. When he came back, the King boys said, he told them that there had been a fight and that their father was dead. Alex said that Chavis told him his father would never let them live with him, and that he'd done it to protect them. Derek said that Chavis had promised his mother before she died that he'd never be locked up again.

Ricky Chavis was convicted of falsely imprisoning Alex, but not of molestation. The verdict on the murder charges remained sealed during the King kids' trial.