Pensacola, Fla. Lawyers for two boys accused of bludgeoning their father with a baseball bat blamed the younger boy's alleged adult lover Tuesday for the slaying and said he persuaded the boys to take the blame.
In opening statements at the boys' trial, the defense also said prosecutors lack physical evidence linking Alex and Derek King, then 12 and 13, to their father's death.
The prosecution in its opening alleged that Derek beat 40-year-old Terry King with the aluminum bat at Alex's urging on Nov. 26. Authorities say the boys confessed shortly afterward to sheriff's deputies and their mother.
Ricky Chavis, a friend of the victim and convicted child molester, was tried last week for the same crime before a different jury. Friday's verdict will remain sealed until the boys' trial is complete. The brothers, now 13 and 14, are being tried as adults.
The boys' lawyers argued that Chavis' motive in the slaying was to prevent King from finding out about Chavis' sexual relationship with Alex.
"He knows if that relationship is discovered he will go to jail forever," said James Stokes, the younger boy's attorney.
The boys testified against Chavis last week. He has refused to take the stand against them, exercising his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
All three defendants face life in prison without parole if convicted of first-degree murder. Each also is charged with arson. Firefighters found the victim's body inside his burning home in nearby Cantonment.
Chavis, 40, also faces trial on a single count of committing a lewd and lascivious act against the younger brother.
Tuesday's first prosecution witness, Nancy Lay, and her husband were Derek's guardians for more than six years. Derek returned to his father but was found by the couple in their neighborhood two days before the killing.
The boy begged not to be returned home and said his brother had a plan to kill their father, Lay testified.
Soon after the slaying, the boys allegedly told sheriff's deputies they killed their father for fear he would discipline them for running away. During testimony last week, they said Chavis killed their father as he slept and while they hid in the trunk of Chavis' car.
Chavis has denied the killing.
Telephone records support his claim that the boys called him after the killing and asked him to pick them up. They show a call was made from a convenience store's pay phone to Chavis' home at the same time a neighbor made a 911 call to report the fire.