CNN BREAKING NEWS
Alex, Derek King Guilty of Second Degree Murder
Aired September 6, 2002 - 15:22 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: We are going to take you live to Pensacola now. We are now finding out there has been a verdict in that twisted trial that was going on in Pensacola, Florida, involving two young boys. A jury had been considering the fate of these two teenage brothers accused of killing their father, while a sealed verdict, and with it the fate of a family friend whom Alex and Derek King accused of the crime awaited this decision in the boys' case. We're talking about two cases all involving the same murder.
Right now, we are waiting for the jury to come out and deliver the verdict. We can just give you a little background as we wait for that to happen, to remind you of these two boys.
I'm actually having some audio problems, so if you'll hang with me for a moment, please, I'm going to switch out my wires here. OK.
If you are just tuning in to CNN, we have got breaking news right now. We are told there is a verdict in the trial of the two young teens accused of killing their father, a brutal, brutal murder involving beating the father to death with a baseball bat.
Our Mark Potter has been on this story all week.
And, Mark, it's something we have all been waiting for. We had a feeling this was going to happen today. Why don't we talk about this case a little bit, review the case, talk about the boys. And, also, let's talk about now -- we may hear about the other decision in the other case involving the family friend, also possibly involved in the murder of the King boys' father.
MARK POTTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kyra, yes, it appears that we are going to get the answer this afternoon.
Our correspondent David Mattingly has been told by the prosecutor that we do now have a verdict. The courtroom is beginning to fill up. I'm looking at a screen now to see that people are coming into the courtroom. We don't know when exactly the verdict will be read.
This, to review, is the case of Alex and Derek King, ages 13 and 14 now. They were 12 and 13 at the time the crime was committed. They are charged with first-degree murder for allegedly beating to death their father, Terry King, age 40, last November. They are also charged with arson.
The accusation is, they beat him to death with an aluminum baseball bat, and then set the house on fire. The jury has a number of options. They can find them guilty of first-degree murder. They also could find them guilty of lesser charges, second-degree murder, manslaughter. There's only one arson charge, no lessers there. And, of course, they can find them not guilty.
They will be considering each case separately. They will consider Alex's case and then Derek's case. They are not to be convicted or found not guilty together. These are separate verdicts. And then we are told, after this verdict is read, they will clear out the courtroom and then they will bring in Ricky Chavis, whose case was heard last week. And then they will read his verdict.
And, if you'll recall, he is the person that the defense blames for killing Terry King. He was indicted and tried separately last week. There was a verdict in that case, but it was sealed so as not to affect the verdict in this case. And once we hear the verdict here, he will be brought into the courtroom with his lawyers and the people associated with that case. And then we will hear that verdict.
So, this afternoon, we are expecting to get the answers we have been waiting for, for at least a week in the Chavis case and all of this week in the case of the boys. And we are anticipating that that will happen soon here in the courtroom of Judge Frank Bell in Escambia Circuit Court -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: Let's look back at the testimony from the boys and from Ricky Chavis and talk about why there was so much discussion about why this grand jury was going to have a hard time believing in one story or another. There were so many changes within testimony.
Mark, let's talk about some of the twists and turns within all three of these individuals as they came forward and told their story.
POTTER: Well, this jury in this case has a really tough time, because there were two different theories of the case that they are going to have to wind their way through.
One theory, from the prosecution, is that the boys committed the crime. They allegedly planned it. The prosecution theory is that the younger boy, Alex, came up with the idea, the older boy carried it out. That's one theory. The other theory -- and then they confessed.
The other theory is that they confessed because they were manipulated by this man Ricky Chavis, who is a family friend, a convicted pedophile, who is now accused of having sex with the younger boy. The defense theory is that they manipulated him into coming up with this confession to protect him, so that he and the boys could be together and that he is the one responsible for the murder.
So they have to work their way through those two theories. And then there's the question of the evidence: the defense pointing out, quite strongly, that there's not much physical evidence in this case and, their claim, no credible forensic evidence, such as blood or DNA or anything like that, fingerprints, that would categorically link the boys to the murder scene. So it's not easy.
Now, as to Chavis, he did not testify. He exercised his Fifth Amendment rights. And so he wasn't much of a factor, except in absentia in this case. He was talked an awful lot about, but he did not actually play much of a role. And then, of course, there's the question of what happened in his own trial, where the prosecution -- which, in this case, was saying it was the boys who did it. The same prosecutor over in that courtroom last week was saying that it was Ricky Chavis.
It's a tricky situation. And in talking to the legal experts here and elsewhere around the country who have been watching this case, if there are convictions, this will certainly lead right to the nearest appeals court.
PHILLIPS: Let's talk about some of the memorable moments, Mark, throughout the week. Closing arguments took place.
One thing that comes to mind for me were these letters that were read from 12-year-old Alex written to Ricky Chavis. There has been mixed reports on this relationship between Ricky Chavis, the family friend, and the young boy, and a possible plot to kill the father so the two could be together.
How pivotal would you say those letters played with trying to convince the jury?
POTTER: Well, I'm not sure how big a role they play in actually determining whether the boys committed the crime or not. But they certainly explain why, in almost every description you hear about this case, you see the word "disturbing."
And this is certainly a disturbing trial involving disturbing facts. The allegation is that this young boy was involved with this older man. He has been charged with lewd and lascivious acts upon a minor. And that reflects upon 13-year-old Alex. This is definitely a very disturbing trial, and yes, those letters were introduced in court in which he talked -- he, the young boy, Alex, talked about his love for the older man, Ricky Chavis, and it certainly was something that people paid attention to.
I'm not sure that that has much bearing on the actual question of guilt or innocence when it comes to who killed Terry King.
PHILLIPS: All right. I'm being told by bringing up the point of closing arguments -- I'm told that we do have a piece that David Mattingly put together when the closing arguments took place, and as we have been following Mark, we are going to take a listen to that, kind of refresh our memory on what happened throughout the week and come back and talk a little bit more as we await the verdict that we are told has been reached for the two young teens accused of killing their father.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From the beginning it was a crime almost impossible to believe: Two young brothers, 13-year-old Derek King and 12-year-old Alex in November confessing to murdering their father with a baseball bat, then setting their house on fire in Ascambia County, Florida.
DEREK KING: I was afraid that he might wake up and see us, so I just kept on hitting him.
ALEX KING: Made contact with the forehead, knocked a hole in the forehead. You could see his brains.
MATTINGLY: The boys claimed they killed 40-year-old Terry King, a single father and strict disciplinarian, fearing punishment after they had recently run away. Their casual, seemingly remorseless behavior at the time seemed unusual to investigators.
JOHN SANDERSON, POLICE INVESTIGATOR, ASCAMBIA COUNTY, FLA.: For the most part, they were pretty calm, and then after the interviews they were horsing around a little bit and playing.
MATTINGLY: But what investigators didn't know was that even stranger twists would follow. Months later, before a grand jury, the boys changed their story and implicated 40-year-old Ricky Chavis, a convicted child molester and friend of the family. Chavis, according to prosecutors, was romantically obsessed with young Alex. Defense attorneys for the boys claimed Chavis gained their confidence and manipulated them, convincing them to run away and take the blame after he was the one who allegedly wielded the bat.
MIKE ROLLO, ATTORNEY FOR THE DEFENDANTS: Ricky told them that you are juveniles and you will remain juveniles and you will be tried as juveniles. And when they -- everything seems to go as planned, until something happens that Ricky Chavis didn't think would happen. The state of Florida indicts a 12- and 13-year-old boy as adults.
MATTINGLY: But which story is true? Who is the real killer when all now claim to be innocent? Prosecutors decided to present evidence against both the boys and Chavis, then let the jury sort it out.
It took just seven hours to reach a verdict in the case against Chavis, but that verdict has been sealed and will remain unknown until the outcome in the murder and arson trials of brothers Derek and Alex.
The boys are being tried as adults. They were key witnesses against Chavis, but Chavis will not testify against them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you're called by the state to testify in this murder trial, do you intend to invoke your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent?
RICKY CHAVIS, DEFENDANT: Yes, sir.
MATTINGLY: Deciding in court to invoke the Fifth Amendment, Chavis will remain silent as a Florida jury looks into the faces of two young boys in search of a brutal killer.
David Mattingly, CNN.
(END VIDEOTAPE) PHILLIPS: If you are just tuning in to CNN, you are watching live coverage now from Pensacola, Florida, as a verdict has been reached in the case against 13 and 14-year-old brothers accused of a deadly baseball bat attack on their father. The jury has reached a decision. We are waiting right now for that verdict to be read.
Right now, we have our Mark Potter who is on the scene there in Pensacola. He has been covering this story for us since its beginning. He and David Mattingly. Also, Robert Tanenbaum is with us, former New York City assistant district attorney.
Robert, let's talk a little bit about -- while we are waiting for the verdict, let's talk a little bit about this case and just the unusual twists. Two trials, one murder. How many times have you come in contact as a former New York City assistant D.A. with a case like this?
ROBERT TANENBAUM, FORMER NYC ASST. D.A.: Well, it's very unusual, where the D.A. tries Chavis, for example, the adult who is involved with a lewd and lascivious relationship with a young child who is 12. The D.A. tries Chavis saying that Chavis beat to death the deceased. And that -- the jury was out, as you said, last week for seven hours. The verdict was sealed.
And then with a mutually inconsistent theory, charges the two boys with beating the father to death. And that is the older brother, Derek, is charged with actually wielding the bat. So they have two mutually inconsistent theories, and interestingly, they're using the same statements from the two boys against Chavis and the boys, but for mutually inconsistent theories.
So the D.A. has some serious issues to deal with legally and factually. It is not something where you just shovel evidence to a jury and say, I did my job, you consider it now, and I'll then argue a different theory as to who actually murdered the diseased to a different jury.
PHILLIPS: Number of experts here joining us. That's Robert Tanenbaum, former New York City assistant D.A. Rob, we're going to ask you to stay with us. We also have our Mark Potter who is on the scene there in Pensacola, Florida. He has been following the trial. And now joining us Jeffrey Toobin, our CNN legal analyst. He has also been following this and offering insight on this very unusual and bizarre case, I guess we could say, Jeffrey. You know, we are looking at these live pictures. We are seeing the boys in the courtroom. One seems very calm. One seems a bit jittery. I mean, no doubt the charges they could face, pretty hard core.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think you are talking about rational behavior. If you are 13 years old and looking at the possibility of spending the rest of your life in prison, you might be a little jittery. It's a pretty nerve-racking moment in their young lives.
This is -- just I think we need to say a very fast jury verdict. They just got the case in mid-morning, and here we are middle of the afternoon. As you pointed out, last week the jury was out seven hours before rendering its verdict. Whatever it is, we don't know, in the case of Ricky Chavis. Here, less than seven hours. So they didn't waste any time in either of these cases, though obviously we don't know how they came out in either one.
PHILLIPS: Well, what could that mean, the fact that they did come to such a quick decision? As a lawyer, could that be a good thing or a bad thing for these people?
TOOBIN: Well, I have a lot of experience in being wrong about the length of deliberations and what it means. There is a lot of folklore among lawyers that short deliberations are good for the prosecution, or short deliberation are good for the defense. And those rules always apply except when they don't.
If you remember, I think probably most people do, the O.J. Simpson criminal case. The jury after a trial of many, many months was out less than a day, and then we had overnight to speculate about what the verdict was. And I think most people, including myself, thought that a short deliberation meant a conviction.
Well, obviously it meant an acquittal. So here, you know, I guess my reaction is I just don't know what it means. And I think that's a sure way not to be wrong.
PHILLIPS: There you go. That's a safe way to go. We don't want anyone to get angry with us. Well, in closing arguments, I remember defense attorneys, you know, really trying to poke holes in the prosecution's case. As you look back, who do you think did have the stronger case, defense or prosecution? Who do you think did better in closing arguments?
TOOBIN: Well, I think in closing arguments the prosecution did better. I was struck by how passionless and how dry and really, you know, dull the defense summations were.
Now, I know every defense lawyer has a different style and not everybody has to be theatrical in closing arguments, but this was really extraordinary in how deadpan it was. Now, I think the evidence in the case is a lot closer than the quality of the arguments. The defense does have some good points in this case. You know, the absence of physical evidence is pretty glaring here. I mean, the case really rises and falls on whether the jury believes the two boys' initial confession, which they later recanted -- so you know, I think the defense has some pretty good points in this case, but it really was not terribly well brought out yesterday by their lawyers.
PHILLIPS: All right, we're going to bring in Mark Potter. Jeff, I'll have you hold on there, bring our Mark Potter back into the mix here. He has been following the case, of course, for us all week.
Mark, why don't we talk about the difference between first degree murder charges, second degree murder charges, manslaughter and what these boys could face. Let's lay out all the different scenarios.
POTTER: Well, first degree murder is premeditated murder, and of course, that carries the most dramatic sentence in that it's an automatic life sentence without parole, so this is the most serious charge. It's the one that they face. But -- as part of a first degree murder charge, there are options to find lesser charges if the jury chooses to go that route instead.
Next on down the line would be second degree murder. That does not have to be premeditated. It's usually the result of a depraved mind. You think of that in connection with a passion killing, something along those lines, and the penalty for second degree murder is up to life in prison, but there is also the possibility of parole in connection with that.
Next down the line and the third possibility for count one is manslaughter. That is an action, a criminal action that leads to someone's death. It doesn't have to be -- you don't have to intend to kill somebody. It doesn't have to be premeditated, but it's a criminal act. That can lead up to 15 years in prison, if a weapon was not used. If a weapon was used, then it can go up to 30 years. So there's that 15 to 30 years range in terms of the maximum with manslaughter.
The second count, count II, is for arson. There is only one arson charge. There are no lessers involved in that, and the penalty for arson is up to 30 years in prison. So all the way around, these are some very serious charges, and again, to be clear, the jury must consider the charges as to Alex and then they must consider them as to Derek. Each of the boys has to be considered separately as to count one and count II.
PHILLIPS: Already, Jeffrey Toobin, our CNN legal analyst. We'll bring him back into the mix, Mark. Do you want to add something, Jeff?
TOOBIN: I did want to ask Mark a question. I'm just so curious about the procedures here. I don't want to put you on the spot, Mark, and I don't even know if this has been discussed, but here we are going to get the verdict in the case against the boys. The verdict against Ricky Chavis is in an envelope. Has the court said when the envelope is going to be opened? Will it be at this proceeding? Will they reconvene on another day? When will we learn the verdict in the Ricky Chavis case, once we know the verdict in the case against the boys?
POTTER: Well, we do know the answer to that now, Jeffrey. It's a good question; it's the one that everybody has been asking us all day, and we understand from the judge it's going to go like this. We will get the verdict in this case, and then once they are done with all the proceedings here, they've excused and thanked the jury, and this courtroom will be cleared of all people associated with the King case. And then Ricky Chavis will be brought in with his lawyer. The people involved in that case will come into the courtroom, and then the verdict in his case will be read. So it will be a one-two punch. One right after the other this afternoon.
PHILLIPS: So back-to-back verdicts we are talking about. Jeffrey, does that surprise you? I hear you sort of chuckling. TOOBIN: Everything surprises me about this case. I guess that makes a certain amount of sense. One of the interesting sort of side issues, the jury in that case has been dismissed, presumably. And one of the rights you have as a defendant is after a jury verdict comes in and it's a conviction, the judge asks, would you like me to poll the jury. That means ask each juror individually, "is that your verdict?" And in very, very rare cases, some juror breaks down and says, "no, I don't agree," and they send the jury back out.
Here, with the jury dismissed, I guess there would be no chance to poll the jury if it's, in fact, a conviction in the Chavis case. Yet another bizarre angle on a case that is certainly...
POTTER: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) come back.
PHILLIPS: Mark, are you asking a question, Mark?
POTTER: Yes. Actually, I was asking the question of a lawyer friend that we met here, David Woodward (ph), who is a lawyer who's practicing here and he tells me that that jury was not dismissed. I'm sorry, I didn't realize I was on camera. Jeff, I didn't mean to interrupt you.
POTTER: A little reporting here live. It seems that that jury was not dismissed, and they too in the Chavis case will have to come back to answer that very question that they typically are asked in court. So I guess that has been thought of. And I suspect that is true...
PHILLIPS: Go ahead, Mark, I'm sorry.
POTTER: ... because -- I suspect that's true, because we have heard nothing from those jurors, and I suspect that in anticipation of this moment, they were told not to talk. Just like the alternate jurors today after they were dismissed were told not to talk until there's a verdict in this case. So I suspect that what Mr. Woodward (ph) is telling us is true.
PHILLIPS: So, Jeffrey, you are saying that proper procedure is once a verdict is reached, jurors are dismissed, but in this case, I guess because it is such a unique case, they really weren't dismissed?
TOOBIN: I guess that's right. And even the odd circumstances, I mean, think about it -- what that means is that the jurors in the Chavis case have been sort of sitting there waiting for the jurors to come back in the King brothers case so that they can get into court and have the verdict read in their case. This is very, very strange. I mean, there's a peculiar situation here. Another peculiar situation for the prosecution.
In many respects, they would be better off if they win one and lose one rather than win both, because if they win both, they will be in the situation of defending inconsistent verdicts.
PHILLIPS: That's what I wanted to know, is what if they are all found guilty of first degree murder?
TOOBIN: If they are all found guilty, I mean, there is no rule in Florida law or any law that I'm aware of that says the prosecution can't do this. Mostly I think because it has never occurred to anyone that the prosecution would do this.
But I think if this case were to end with convictions of the brothers and convictions of Chavis, there would be a very strong appellate argument that prosecutors who are supposed to have one theory of the case would have to have one or both of those convictions overturned, presumably both of them, and have to go back and pick which way they really want this case to be resolved. So in that respect, that's why they might be somewhat better off if they get one conviction and one acquittal rather than two convictions.
PHILLIPS: So once, of course once both verdicts are read, this is not the end of this case by no means, right, Jeffrey?
TOOBIN: Well, unless they are two acquittals. If there are two acquittals, always everybody goes home, case is over.
PHILLIPS: The odds of that, though -- that's highly unlikely, wouldn't you say?
TOOBIN: Well, I don't know. Remember, Chavis faces charges in -- for child molestation. So he's not going home even if he's acquitted, but I mean, if these kids are acquitted today, they go home, end of story.
PHILLIPS: Now, if not acquitted, let's talk about what happens to these boys. Let's say, let's talk about the schooling, for example. We talked about that a couple of hours ago. I was very interested in that. I think, Mark Potter, you brought that up, didn't you, about the teacher that has been coming into the jail and teaching the kids. I'm just curious if indeed they get life in prison, what's their life going to be like until they are 18, and then after 18?
POTTER: Well, we have actually seen that before in Florida and not too long ago. We do have an idea of what they might face. We had the Lionel Tate case here, if you remember, the wrestling death case, and also that of Nathaniel Brazil, the young boy who shot and killed his teacher in middle school. Both of them were convicted; they received similar sentences, and they went off into the adult prison system.
Now I want to be very careful in saying that. They went into the adult prison system but into juvenile facilities within that system. They do have special facilities for juveniles with classes, they have ROTC program in there. They have culinary programs, and that's what they will face. I understand that the judge is coming in right now. Judge Frank Bell.
JUDGE FRANK BELL: Let's see the attorneys up here for a minute on a matter about the -- really, it's about the Chavis jury.
PHILLIPS: If you are just tuning into CNN, you are watching breaking news right now as the fate of these two young teenage boys is in the hands of the jury right now. A verdict has been reached. We are told a verdict has been reached in this trial of these brothers accused of killing their father. Began considering -- the jury, rather, began considering the fate of these boys when the sealed verdict, and with that the fate of the family friend, Alex and Derek King, accused of this crime awaited the decision in the boys' case. It's two verdicts we are waiting upon. If you recall the background of this case, the verdict of Ricky Chavis, 40-year-old family friend, a verdict has been reached in that. It has been sealed until jurors have reached a verdict with regard to Derek and Alex King.
We're going to bring in our legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin back in and talk a little bit more as we wait for this verdict. I'm noticing Judge Frank Bell calling the attorneys up to the stand. Why is he doing that, Jeffrey?
TOOBIN: Well I just caught a brief word of what he said. It's about -- he said it's about the Chavis jury. So it's something about the point we were just discussing, that while the jury has been out in the King brothers case, the jury, as Mark Potter just reported, in the Chavis case has been apparently waiting around, waiting for the verdict in their case to be read. So he's having some discussion with the lawyers about what, I guess, should be done with the Chavis jury while the King brothers jury's decision is being read.
It's an unusual situation, to say the least, and I don't know the details of what he is saying, but that seems to be the subject matter of the conference with the lawyers that's being held now.
PHILLIPS: And as we were talking with Mark, it's very possible that we could get these verdicts back-to-back.
TOOBIN: Right. Knowing how court proceedings work, I don't think it will be quite, you know, five minutes between them. To clear the courtroom. Remember, Chavis is in custody. They will have to get him out of lock-up, bring him in. I imagine there's going to be some gap between then, and we're getting toward the end of the afternoon. I don't know how late they're going to stay on Friday, but I guess they'd want to get both verdicts read this afternoon.
PHILLIPS: We have Jeffrey Toobin, our CNN legal analyst, also Mark Potter, correspondent on -- there in Pensacola, has been following this all week. We also have Robert Tanenbaum with us, former New York City assistant D.A. Robert, do you want to weigh in on this? We haven't talked to you in a few minutes.
TANENBAUM: Well, usually, the short verdict -- I've tried several hundred cases to verdict as a D.A. and ran a homicide bureau in the criminal courts -- it's hard to believe that in the few short hours that any jury anywhere in America would find two young people guilty. This should be a not guilty verdict.
PHILLIPS: All right, we're going to listen in right now. He's bringing in the jury. Judge Frank Bell.
BELL: I would appreciate it very much when we get this verdict that when the verdict is published, that, you know, we don't have any reaction to the verdict, please. Good or bad. And I don't want anybody in the courtroom to become overly excited about it. Let's bring them in, please.
Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, are you all able to arrive at verdicts in the cases of the state of Florida versus Alex David King and Derek Allen King?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have, your honor.
BELL: OK. If you will take it and give it to court security right there, please, those two verdicts. Thank you.
Clerk's office will publish those two verdicts, please.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the Circuit Court (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Florida, state of Florida plaintiff versus Derek King, defendant, case #015612-B. Verdict: We the jury find as follows as to count one of the indictment. Guilty of second degree murder, a lesser included offense, without a weapon. We the jury find as follows as to count II of the indictment. Guilty of arson as charged. So say we all the 6th day of September, 2002, foreperson Lynn Schwartz (ph).
State of Florida plaintiff versus Alex King, defendant, case #015612-B. Verdict: We the jury find as follows as to count one of the indictment, guilty of second degree murder, a lesser included offense, without a weapon. We the jury find as follows to count II of the indictment. Guilty of arson as charged. So say we all the 6th day of September, 2002, foreperson Lynn Schwartz (ph).
BELL: Does the state or the defense want the jury polled?
BELL: OK, ladies and gentlemen. The clerk's office just published the two verdicts case of the state of Florida versus Derek King, state of Florida versus Alex King.
And let me take Derek King's verdict first. The verdict reads "we the jury find as follows as to count one of the indictment," and there is a check mark on guilty of second degree murder, a lesser included offense, and then you had two choices underneath that. With a weapon, without a weapon. And it's got without a weapon. Count II: We the jury find as follows to count II of the indictment, guilty of arson as charged. So say we all September the 6th, 2002, signed the foreperson.
What I want to do starting on this end -- and you don't need to stand or anything like that -- tell me whether or not this verdict that I just re-published to you, tell me whether or not you individually agree with the verdict that's just been announced.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, your honor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
BELL: You do. Sir? You individually agree. Thank you. Yes, ma'am. Individually agree?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, your honor.
BELL: OK. Individually agree?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, sir.
BELL: OK. Thank you very much. That is as to Derek King.
State of Florida versus Alex King. Says we the jury finds as follows as to count one of the indictment, guilty of second degree murder, a lesser included offense, without a weapon. And in count II, we the jury find as follows as to count II of the indictment: Guilty of arson as charged. So say we all September the 6th, 2002, signed foreperson.
Starting on this end, tell me whether or not that verdict that I have just read concerning Alex King, whether or not you individually agree with that verdict.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, your honor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, your honor.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, your honor.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, your honor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
BELL: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for your time and thank you very much for your attention that you have given during the trial. As I indicated to the three alternate jurors that were released earlier, we very much appreciate citizens coming down here and helping us with jury trials. We do this every week. I don't do it every week. We rotate it, but someone is doing it every week, and we are trying a lot of criminal cases. And it would be impossible to resolve these cases without people, citizens coming down here and helping us, because they are a very important part of the system. And we appreciate people coming down here and serving on jury duty. It's greatly appreciated.
What I'd like to do is take and give to you an additional instruction. And I think it's applicable -- it's usually not applicable in most cases, but in this case I think it is applicable. And it goes like this: Ladies and gentlemen, I wish to thank you for your time in the consideration of this case. I also wish to advise you of some very special privileges enjoyed by jurors. No juror can ever be required to talk about the discussions that occurred in the jury room, except by court order. For many centuries, our society has relied upon juries for considerations of difficult cases. We have recognized for hundreds of years that a jury's deliberation, discussion and vote should remain their private affairs as long as they wish it.
Therefore, the law gives you a unique privilege not to speak about the jury's work. Although you are at liberty to speak with anyone about your deliberations, you are also at liberty to refuse to speak to anyone. A request may come from those who are simply curious, or from those who might seek to find fault with you. It will be up to you to decide whether to preserve your right as privacy as a juror.
Jury, court security is going to take you to -- back to jury assembly. They'll check you out, make sure that you get paid for your jury service this week. It's not a great deal of money because it is a duty of citizenship. And once you are released upstairs, as a juror in this case, then you are like any other citizen. You're free to speak, or you're free not to speak. That's your decision, OK?
But be assured that the court system thanks everyone that comes down here on Mondays and helps us resolve many, many criminal jury trials. We appreciate it.
Security will help you right over here, please.
Folks, the only thing I know is in approximately an hour from now the other jury should be here except for what we discussed, Mr. Rollo (ph), up here about that one lady.
So as soon as jury assembly advises me that those folks have reported up there then we'll reconvene back in the courtroom to announce the Chavis verdict.
I might mention for the people that are here that are a part of the media -- I indicated earlier that I had transcribed the proceedings that we held upstairs that the media was not allowed to attend -- that has been transcribed. And I indicated that I was going to file that with the clerk and people that were interested in it could have a copy.
As soon as we handle the Ricky Chavis verdict, those -- I've made 10 copies for -- I don't know how many different organizations are represented here but I've made 10 copies. And if anyone's interested, a copy will be made available for you.
In the meantime, we'll be in recess pending that other jury arriving and announcing the verdict in the state versus Chavis. We'll be in recess.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All rise.
PHILLIPS: If you're just tuning in to CNN, you're watching breaking news. A verdict has been reached and read. You're seeing it right here. Fourteen year old Derek King and 13 year old Alex King found guilty of second degree murder without a weapon. Also found guilty of arson.
We're talking about the case against these brothers accused of beating their father to death with a baseball bat.
We're going to bring in our Mark Potter. He's outside of the courtroom. He's been following this all week. We're looking at live pictures actually, Mark, right now of the boys' mother.
We haven't heard much from the mother. We haven't talked to her.
We actually -- didn't actually know her whereabouts for a number of days. Now it's confirmed we are seeing the mom there in the courtroom obviously very emotional right now as she finds out that her two teens have been found guilty of second degree murder.
Mark, what's next -- the boys taken to jail?
POTTER: Yeah -- they'll go back up into the lock-up where they have been and then, of course, somewhere down the line they will face sentencing. Sentencing now is not automatic.
If they had been convicted of first degree murder that would be an automatic life sentence without parole, of course, pending what the appeals courts might say on this if they do.
But now that this is second degree murder the judge does have some leeway. This is second degree murder without a weapon.
The penalty could go up to life but with the possibility for parole.
I don't know exactly what the parameters are for this judge but he does have some leeway here. And, again, they also face now an arson sentence and that's a very serious charge as well. The maximum penalty there could go up to 30 years.
So that's the next step for them. I don't know when that's going to happen.
We had presumed that if a first degree murder verdict came the sentencing would be almost immediate because of the automatic nature. Now there will have to be a pre-trial investigation by the probation officials and all of the court officials so it may be some time. But that's what they face next.
In the meantime they'll stay in the custody of the county until then.
And then afterward -- once they are sentenced they will then go into the state system. They will go into a processing facility briefly and then they will go into an adult prison -- into the adult prison system but into a juvenile facility within the system like we have seen in the cases of Lionel Tate and Nathaniel Brazil here in Florida in the past year or two.
So the -- it's already pretty well determined what is going to happen to them -- at least in terms of where they're going.
The length of sentence is what we're still waiting to see and that may be some time in coming.
PHILLIPS: All right. Our Mark Potter there in Pensacola outside the courtroom.
Mark, we're going to ask you to stand by.
If you're just tuning in -- breaking news out of Pensacola, Florida -- both young boys -- both teens -- Derek and Alex King convicted of second degree murder and arson in the deadly baseball attack on their father.
The verdict has been reach -- it has been read. We have a number of analysts with us right now. Jeffrey Toobin, our CNN Legal Analyst; also, Mark Potter there in Pensacola; our David Mattingly was also inside the courtroom. And standing by with us, too, is Robert Tanenbaum from New York City -- Former New York City assistant D.A., rather, to continue the coverage on this breaking news.
Now I'm going to bring in my colleague, Wolf Blitzer, who is going to take it from here. Wolf, you've got a lot on your hands. I appreciate you taking over the coverage.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you very much, Kyra. Nice work -- important story -- a story that's captivated much of the nation. These two little boys -- teenagers -- 13 and 14 year old boys now convicted second degree murder in connection with the beating death of their father.
Let's bring in CNN legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, who's been covering this trial, watching it. How surprised, if at all, are you, Jeff?
TOOBIN: Well, I have to say I'm pretty surprised. This jury hardly deliberated at all -- just a few hours -- maybe four hours. And this was a questionable case.
They did confess initially but they recanted. There was not a lot or almost no physical evidence tying them to the crime. And though they were not convicted of a mandatory life sentence, this is a very heavy penalty that they're facing. They're looking at decades in prison in all likelihood.
And the paradox they face now is that even though they view Ricky Chavis as their tormentor and as the man who got them into this mess and the person who really caused all of their problems, it's really in their interest for him to be convicted, too, because if they are both convicted, they both have a better appeals -- they both have a better appeals situation than if the boys were convicted and Chavis were acquitted.
BLITZER: And we're standing by awaiting the verdict -- the announcement of the verdict in connection with 40 year old Ricky Chavis, a so-called friend of the father -- someone who had befriended these two young boys.
Update our viewers, Jeffrey, on Ricky Chavis' connection to this very bizarre case.
TOOBIN: Well, what happened here was that these boys lived with their father. One of them -- Alex -- the red-haired boy -- the younger one -- developed -- I wouldn't want to call it anything as kind as a friendship, but basically a sick, sexual relationship with this guy, Ricky Chavis, who was a convicted child molester.
Last November the father was murdered with a baseball bat in his home and then his house was burned down.
Initially the two boys confessed and were charged with the murder. Later, in the grand jury, they changed their testimony and said, "No, no -- Chavis did it and we tried to cover for him."
The grand jury then indicted Chavis for the same crime. So both the boys and Ricky Chavis were facing prosecution for the same murder.
Last week the jury in the Chavis case heard that case, deliberated for seven hours and rendered a verdict. We don't know what that verdict is.
Judge Bell just said in about an hour from now we're going to hear that verdict. Moments ago we heard that the two boys were convicted of second degree murder and arson.
So we'll see now in an hour whether that verdict is consistent -- that is, an acquittal -- or would it be another conviction meaning that two sets of defendants were convicted for contradictory versions of the same facts.
BLITZER: A very bizarre case. And we, of course, will be standing by in this courtroom to get the verdict -- the verdict which had been sealed in connection with this murder case involving Ricky Chavis.
Jeffrey Toobin, stand by -- we're going to be coming back to you, but I want to bring in our CNN Correspondent, David Mattingly. He was in the courtroom when the verdict was released -- was announced -- involving these two 13 and 14 year boys. It must have been pretty emotional inside -- David.
MATTINGLY: It was emotional, Wolf. In fact, right before the verdict was read the boys were doing just as they've always done -- they were looking at each other, smiling at times, talking to their attorney and fidgeting in their chairs. But when that verdict came down -- boy, it came down and hit hard.
The boys became emotional. The older brother first breaking down into tears. As they were led out of the courtroom both of them shaking their heads and wiping their eyes like they couldn't believe it had happened to them but clearly a very strong and emotional moment that has hit home with those two boys.
BLITZER: And for the first time really we got a glimpse of the boys' mother. She's not really been seen or heard from at least as far as I can tell. What have you since seen, heard in this courtroom? MATTINGLY: I spoke to her today and she told me that she has planned to have custody of the boys. She had hoped to have custody of the boys once they were out of the judicial system here.
Obviously that's going to be on hold for quite some time now. But she wanted to be here. She said that she and her former husband, Terry, who was killed -- that the two of them did have joint custody so she wanted to be here for her children even if she hadn't been a part of their lives -- day to day lives -- for years now.
And it's -- it was all a very emotional time for the entire family -- many of them crying.
Outside the courtroom we tried to ask them questions and they were unable to talk.
BLITZER: What a bizarre case. What a strange case, too. Almost angelic-looking young boys convicted now of second degree murder and arson.
In making that verdict public, I want those of our viewers who may have missed it when we brought it to you live to be able to hear it once again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BELL: The clerk's office will publish those two verdicts, please?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the Circuit Court (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Florida -- state of Florida, plaintiff versus Derek King, defendant, case number 015612-B. Verdict -- we, the jury, find as follows as to count one of the indictment -- guilty of second degree murder -- a lesser included offense without a weapon. We, the jury, finds as follows as to count two of the indictment -- guilty of arson as charged. So say we all this 6th day of September, 2002 -- foreperson Lynn Schwartz (ph).
State of Florida, plaintiff versus Alex King, defendant, case number 015612-B. Verdict -- we, the jury, find as follows as to count one of the indictment. Guilty of second degree murder -- a lesser included offense without a weapon. We, the jury, find as follows as to count two of the indictment -- guilty of arson as charged. So say we all this 6th day of September, 2002 -- foreperson Lynn Schwartz (ph).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: There were the two boys not showing very much emotion. Let's bring in our Mark Potter. He's been covering this trial as well.
Mark, when you heard the verdict -- second degree murder without a weapon -- they obviously could have received a much more serious verdict. First degree murder -- was that ever seriously considered, do you believe? POTTER: Absolutely it was very seriously considered. And I think many people here, if not most, thought that if they were going to be convicted that would be it because the argument from the prosecution is that this very clearly was a premeditated murder.
But, as you now know -- as we all know, the jury came back with murder two -- second degree murder -- which means that the sentence will now not be mandatory.
If it was first degree murder they would get a mandatory life prison term with no parole. But now that it is second degree murder and arson the judge does have some leeway. The boys could get up to life with second degree murder with the possibility of parole but it could also be less than that.
And because they are young defendants -- first offenders -- the judge could go downward and he will have the right to do that.
An arson charge, by the way, can bring you up to 30 years but, again, there may be some leeway.
I want to tell you one other thing, if I could quickly, Wolf. The three defense lawyers representing the two boys just walked by here a second ago. There was an area that was set up for people to talk and hold interviews. They did not do that.
When they walked past us we asked if they would speak to us. They said they would not do that.
So there was no comment from the defense.
Now the prosecutor told David Mattingly, our correspondent, upstairs a moment ago that he was pleased with this verdict -- that's David Rimmer, the Assistant State Attorney, who prosecuted this case. So we did get a comment from that side.
But the defense attorneys -- at least publicly -- have not spoken.
BLITZER: Mark, maybe you could clarify something for me and I'm sure for many of our viewers. When the second degree murder -- second degree murder verdict was announced the judge made a point of saying "without a weapon." I was under the impression there was a baseball bat, which clearly is a weapon. Can you clarify that for us?
POTTER: Well, the jury I guess thought it was the sort of weapon that would be covered by the -- with the weapon clause in the second degree murder ruling. They must have presumed that that meant a knife or a gun or something like that. Or maybe they thought that the prosecutor was just never able to prove what kind of weapon it was.
After all, the boys said in their confession -- which they later recanted -- that it was an aluminum baseball bat. But no such bat was ever found. That may explain it.
But, I must say, I don't exactly know how they did that. That may be the way that that worked out.
BLITZER: All right. Mark Potter, stand by. David Mattingly, please stand by as well.
I want to bring back our legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, a former prosecutor who understands the law obviously quite well.
Do you have any speculation on the importance of those words "without a weapon -- second degree murder"?
TOOBIN: What it sounds to me like is a compromise verdict of sorts. I think it is one of the few areas in the law where a jury really could go either way.
A baseball bat both is and is not a weapon. And a jury could interpret it in either case.
It sounds like it is an attempt to throw a small bone to the defense here but it is a very small bone. This is a conviction. No one should be under any mistaken impression that because it's second degree rather than first these boys are going to waltzing out the door any time soon.
This is a complete or almost complete victory for the prosecution. But it's a -- it's one that I think will have a lot of people scratching their heads, too.
BLITZER: And as we all continue to scratch our heads and await the second verdict -- the verdict in the earlier trial involving Ricky Chavis, the 40 year old former so-called friend of this family. That should be announced within the hour or so we were told by the judge.
Explain to our viewers, Jeffrey, why these two young boys, who are now convicted of this crime at age 12 and 13 -- they're 13 and 14 year olds now -- why they were tried as adults?
TOOBIN: Well, this is something, Wolf, that's been happening around the country in the last 10 or 15 years and it's part of a general trend where the country is just a lot tougher on crime than it once was.
The original theory behind juvenile justice -- the whole juvenile justice system -- was that children -- juveniles -- are -- should be treated somewhat differently by the system -- should be given more of a guiding hand -- the system should be less punitive, more -- recognizing more the idea that their minds are unformed and that they don't make up their minds to commit crimes in the same way that adults do.
That view has come under a lot of attack in recent years. These high profile crimes by juveniles have led the prosecutorial community -- the police community -- to say, "Look, the victims of people we call children are just as dead as the victims of adults and we need not to coddle young offenders."
So the law in many states, like Florida, has made it possible for prosecutors, even though someone is a juvenile, to try juveniles as adults with the possibility of adult punishment.
That's what happened here. It happens a lot now. And it means you have kids serving very, very long sentences.
BLITZER: All right -- Jeffrey Toobin, thanks very much. I want to thank David Mattingly and Mark Potter as well.
We're going to continue to cover this story. Of course, we will await the announcement of the verdict involving the third defendant, Ricky Chavis, accused of murder. His trial was last week.
There is a verdict. It will be unsealed within the hour or so, we are told by the judge. Of course, we will come back and report on that as soon as we have that information.
Much more on this story. Both of these young boys -- Derek King -- Alex King -- 13 and 14 years old -- convicted of second degree murder and arson in connection with the beating death of their 40 year old father, the late Terry King.
Much more coverage at the top of the hour on WOLF BLITZER REPORTS. More news when it becomes available.
When we come back, INSIDE POLITICS with Judy Woodruff.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com