Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Murder of Terry King

The boys' trial


Alex (l) and Derek King
Alex (l) and Derek King
Alex and Derek King were tried as adults. During their defense, they claimed that Ricky Chavis killed their father in a fight while he was trying to protect them; at the time of the murder, they said, they were hiding in Chavis's trunk after he'd driven them home after the 10 days at his house. They told the jury that Chavis had helped them to rehearse their story of the murder until they got it right. This might explain why medical examiners concluded Terry King had been hit three times, but Derek initially insisted he'd hit him 10 times.

Grilled about how he responded to the news that his father was dead, Alex told the jury that he was angry that Chavis kept saying that he'd done it for him. Alex thought the older man had seemed set on convincing him that his father was a terrible monster from whom Chavis was saving him.

The boys testified that Chavis had pressured them into protecting him from prosecution for their father's death, saying that if they confessed to the killing, as minors killing in self-defense, they'd all go free. He convinced them to take the blame.

The defense maintained that Chavis had killed Terry King to conceal his relationship with Alex. Prosecutor David Rimmer would tell reporters that he believed that Chavis had put the boys up to the murder, but that they physically committed both the murder and the arson.

The forewoman, Lynn Schwarz, said the jury believed the boys had helped Chavis to kill King, but that they'd thought that Chavis had swung the bat that killed Terry King. She told reporters it broke her heart to have to convict the boys of second-degree murder.

And it really broke her heart when it turned out that Chavis had been found not guilty of first degree murder and arson.