Is there no such thing as a bad boy?

Published 5:39 pm Wednesday, November 20, 2002

By Staff
So, let me see if I understand: The Pensacola King brothers, Alex and Derek, now ages 13 and 14, have pleaded guilty to killing their father and setting his house trailer afire. This plea is the result of a mediation session ordered by the trial court judge, who set the boys' original trial conviction and life sentence aside because, in his opinion, it was unfair. The boys originally confessed to the murder to the arresting police officers, then later recanted their confessions to the Grand Jury in the case of their perverted adult mentor, Ricky Chavis, but are now reaffirming their original confessions in return for a sentence of eight years in the state prison. This favorable sentencing can be compared to the 12 to 45 years the boys might have received under state sentencing guidelines for third degree murder. Their original conviction and life sentence was for second degree murder.
The boys seemed happy about all this on television as Judge Frank Bell reviewed the mediation agreement with them and approved it. Their mother, Kelly Marino, however, held a press conference with her lawyer following the televised court session and expressed her unhappiness with the mediation result. She was unjustly barred, she said, from participating in the mediation session. The mother contends that her boys are too young and immature to have been allowed to make this agreement without her loving, motherly help and guidance.
Applying the "It Seems To Me" analytical approach to this news story, it seems to me like the boys told the truth the first time and that they are telling the truth again now. It seems to me that they are happy about this mediation sentence because they are guilty as charged and they know a second trial could go as badly as the first one. It also seems to me that Judge Bell, who voided the first trial and sentencing as unfair, would not have allowed this mediation agreement to stand unless he also believed the boys' are truly guilty, for if the judge believed a life sentence was too severe for boys this young solely on the basis of their innocence, it seems to me he would also believe eight years in the state prison would be too severe as well. When a person is innocent, even one day imprisonment is too severe and unfair. Wouldn't you say? And so, it seems to me that justice has been served in the case of the King brothers.
This mother is another story. Her sudden interest in her beloved sons seems to coincide with the publicity resulting from television personality Rosie O'Donnell's involvement in the case when Rosie hired two hotshot lawyers to come down to Pensacola to help out. Ms. Marino tried to fire the boys' existing attorneys and replace them with Rosie's troops, but the court would not allow the replacement. The wisdom of that issue aside, I cannot but feel suspicion toward this mother who has allegedly visited her sons only five times since their arrest and imprisonment and who gave them up to foster care when they were younger. I don't like to judge parents who fail after doing their best, but this mother does not have my sympathies. She is a publicity hound and an unfit mother. If I were on a jury trying her for her crimes against her own children, I would be only too happy to vote a life sentence for her in the darkest dungeon. She abandoned her children to the care of an unfit father, a convicted child molester, and who knows what other bad influences which no-doubt contributed to a 12-year-old boy beating his father to death with a baseball bat.
As to the father, I cannot conceive that he was an innocent victim either. Somebody should have beaten him to death with a baseball bat years ago, along with his pal Ricky Chavis, the 40-year-old convicted child molester who was sexually molesting his son, and . . . well, as long as we are getting to the root of the problem, let's go ahead and beat the hell out of the mother with a baseball bat too.
Did this unfit mother and father not know that their son was being sexually abused, or did they just not care? What other unsupervised influences led these two boys to murder their father and burn his house down? When I was growing up, there were five rowdy boys in my family and there were times I got mad with my father when he disciplined us, but I cannot imagine even having the thought of beating my father to death with a baseball bat while he was napping in his chair. This is aberrant behavior which derives from something other than normal childhood experiences.
In the 1930's movie Boys Town, Spencer Tracey, playing Father O'Flanagan, the famous founding father of the famous home for wayward boys, delivered the famous line, "There is no such thing as a bad boy!" I occasionally hear of children committing the most horrendous of crimes and I wonder about the validity of this statement. Medical experts often say such behavior is caused by brain malfunctions or chemical imbalances. Religious zealots attribute it to the devil and other evil spirits. Now, I'm not an expert of any kind in these matters, but it seems to me that the most logical and likely place to look for the cause of these little monsters is the big monsters who created them, the irresponsible parents who failed them. As they march these two cherubic-looking murderers out of the courtroom and off to the state prison, I feel sad, for in my heart I want to believe the words of Father O'Flanagan. "There is no such thing as a bad boy." There is, however, such a thing as bad parents!
Lloyd Albritton publishes a series of commentaries on the Internet entitled The Albritton Letters at He can be contacted at

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