PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) -- Nearly a year after Terry King's body was found bludgeoned inside his burning home, his two teen-age sons pleaded guilty to his murder -- and were spared a harsh prison term.
Derek King, 14, and Alex King, 13, admitted to third-degree murder and arson charges as part of a plea agreement Thursday, the result of weeks of court-ordered mediation after the judge tossed out their second-degree murder convictions.
Circuit Judge Frank Bell cited the bizarre circumstances of the trial, including the nearly simultaneous trial of a convicted child molester for the murder.
Derek was sentenced to eight years in prison and his brother received seven years, each with credit for nearly a year already served. Sentencing guidelines provided for a term ranging from 12.5 years to 45 years in prison.
The boys issued new sworn statements Thursday, similar to earlier confessions they gave police about the Nov. 26 murder, and then later recanted.
"Alex suggested that I kill dad," Derek said in his statement. "I murdered my dad with an aluminum baseball bat. I set the house on fire from my dad's bedroom."
Alex wrote his statement, saying he talked with his brother about killing their 40-year-old father so they could live with the family friend, Rick Chavis, a convicted child molester.
"Rik told me he loved me," Alex wrote. "Rik told me I was gay & only he understood me."
The boys' mother, Kelly Marino, made a last-ditch request to have the boys examined by mental health experts, but the judge said the request had no standing.
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