Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Murder of Terry King

Questioning the verdict

The boys' grandfather wasn't surprised. As he told the press, "I had a feeling my grandsons had a part in my son's murder. I don't hate them. I love them. But I had a gut feeling that they did have a part in it." He told Connie Chung that he'd watched the boys have a shockingly violent fight when they were in jail. He also said that when he asked Alex what really happened that night, Derek had threateningly hushed up his younger brother.

But the boys' legal team successfully petitioned to have their verdict thrown out in October 2002. Judge Frank Bell agreed that both sides should reconsider the case, questioning the prosecution's decision to try the Derek and Alex King for the same crime of which Ricky Chavis had stood accused.

Alex (r) and Derek King
Alex (r) and Derek King
The boys' mother, Kelly Marino, unsuccessfully tried to replace their lawyers with Jayne Weintraub and Ben Kuehne, a pair hired by Rosie O'Donnell.

In November 2002, prosecutor David Rimmer and the defense, James Stokes and Sharon Potter, reached a compromise in which the boys pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and to arson. Their confession stated that they'd committed the murders on their own, but that Chavis had supplied them with marijuana and told them that they could live with him.

Marino stepped in again, and claimed her children weren't competent to agree to a plea. Marino maintained that prosecutors had convinced the boys to take the plea by presenting their prison sentences as something like summer camp. Potter countered that Marino never spent enough time with the boys to know what they thought about the plea or sentence.

The judge didn't buy Marino's take on the case. Alex was sentenced to seven years and Derek got eight. The boys were sent to a state prison for juveniles.

Marino, now living in Lexington, Ky., tried to get custody of her sons, arguing against their father's mother and brother, Joyce Tracy and Greg King. Marino was later accused of stealing the social security checks the boys were due after their father's death.

In March 2003 Ricky Chavis was found guilty of evidence and witness tampering, being an accessory to third-degree murder, and imprisoning Alex. He'd washed blood from the boys' clothes and hid the boys in another room when cops questioned him in his mobile home. He was sentenced to the maximum penalty: 35 years in prison.