Kevin Jeffries Florida Death Row
Two Hartford residents face murder charges in connection to the death of a 90-year-old Florida man.
According to a statement from Ruth Corley, the spokesperson for the Bay
County Sheriff’s Office in Florida, sheriff’s investigators arrested
three people over the weekend on murder charges for their alleged role
in the death of 90-year-old Wallace Scott.
According to an e-mail from Corley, two of the suspects have Hartford
addresses. Sheriff’s investigators charged Kevin Jeffries, 28, of
Highway 52, and Ashley Nicole Griffin, 28, of Geneva County Road 105,
with an open count of murder.
The statement said a third person, David Challender, 26, of Caryville, Fla, was also charged with an open count of murder.
Authorities found Scott dead in his home in Lynn Haven, Fla., on April 4
after neighbors reported not seeing him for several days.
The homicide investigation first resulted in credit fraud charges being
filed against two women. The statement said investigators charged Sherri
Mercer with fraudulent use of a credit card and Deborah Cupp with
principal to fraudulent use of a credit card.
The statement also said the sheriff’s investigation revealed the two
women had served as caregivers for Scott, and Mercer had apparently been
named as beneficiary on Scott’s will.
Investigators also learned Scott had an appointment on April 8 to remove Mercer from his will.
The statement also said both Jeffries and Challender are related to Mercer.
Investigators also served a search warrant at Jeffries’ father’s home in
Slocomb where they found jewelry identified by Scott’s family as
belonging to Scott. An antique record player was also found that was
from Scott’s home.
On April 6, 2013, Wallace Scott was found dead, sitting up against
his bed, by a concerned neighbor, who had noticed an accumulation of
newspapers. When officers from the Bay County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO)
arrived at Scott’s residence, a gate and back door to the house were
open. There were no signs of forced entry into the home. The pool in the
backyard was dirty and had not been cleaned recently. The house smelled
strongly of bleach and other household cleaners. An empty gallon-size
bottle of bleach, an empty can of Comet cleaner, and an aerosol canister
of air purifier were found in the bedroom. A bottle of toilet-bowl
cleaner was found turned upside-down, which allowed the liquid to soak
into the carpet. Investigators found bleach stains throughout Scott’s
bedroom, and the carpet was so saturated that investigators had to
frequently replace the paper boots they were wearing to prevent
cross-contamination of the crime scene.
The house appeared to have
been ransacked. In the bedroom where Scott was found, the bed had been
pushed aside and was askew from its box springs. Electric cords that had
been cut and belts were found next to Scott, who was found with
ligature marks on his ankles and legs. There was blood on the floor next
to Scott. Investigators also found a plunger, a pair of scissors, and
the tip of a blue latex glove in the bedroom, as well as a wooden box
containing shotgun shells. A fire poker that contained no traces of soot
was also found on top of a washing machine.
The medical examiner
found that Scott had abrasion and impact injuries on his face and a
fractured nose. There was also a lacerating injury to his left ear that
was forceful enough to split the ear. Scott had lacerations across his
upper body, hands, and neck, as well as several fractures of his ribs.
The medical examiner later testified that some of these injuries could
have been inflicted by a long, cylindrical object such as a fire poker.
Additionally, the medical examiner noted that Scott’s ankles had been
bound, and there was some evidence of binding on his left wrist. There
were also superficial sharp-force injuries to Scott’s penis.
investigators initially identified Sherri Mercer as a person of interest
in Scott’s murder. She had served as Scott’s live-in caretaker for
several years until a few weeks before Scott’s death. Scott had
introduced her to a friend, a private investigator, whom Scott asked to
assist Mercer in obtaining a driver’s license. The private investigator
suspected that Scott and Mercer had a personal relationship, and
Mercer’s sister, Mary Goldsmith, the mother of Jeffries, later testified
that Mercer had a sexual relationship with Scott that Mercer did not
enjoy; however, Mercer later denied that her relationship with Scott was
sexual in nature. In February 2013, Scott executed a will that named
Mercer as the principal beneficiary of his estate, which included his
residence and several pieces of real property. Mercer also had a joint
checking account with Scott and access to one of his credit cards.
female friend of Mercer’s had lived in Scott’s home with Mercer and
Scott until sometime in February 2013, when Scott evicted the friend,
and Mercer moved out with her. Mercer continued to use the credit card
and write checks from the joint account. Apparently, these actions were
done without the consent of Scott, who filed a complaint with the BCSO
on March 14, 2013, against Mercer for claims of credit card and check
fraud. However, he subsequently informed law enforcement that he did not
wish to prosecute Mercer for these offenses. Around the same time,
Scott also contacted the friend who was a private investigator and asked
him for assistance with amending his will and power of attorney.
Mercer remained a person of interest throughout the investigation,
investigators later sought to arrest Jeffries after results from DNA
testing of the tip of the blue latex glove matched both Scott and
Jeffries. At that time, Ashley Griffin, Jeffries’s girlfriend, also
became a suspect. Officers first located and arrested Griffin in
Georgia, and she agreed to assist law enforcement in the apprehension of
Jeffries and his cousin, David Challender, the son of Sherri Mercer.
Following his arrest, Jeffries admitted to officers that he participated
in the burglary and fatal assault on Scott. During trial, Griffin
testified on behalf of the State with respect to the events that
culminated in the murder of Scott, and her testimony was largely
corroborated by Jeffries’s post-arrest statement, a recording of which
was admitted during trial.
On April 4, 2013, Jeffries, Challender,
and Griffin decided to leave Challender’s home in Atlanta and travel to
Panama City to commit robbery, including the robbery of Scott. Scott
was known to each of them: Jeffries and Griffin had met him on at least
one occasion, and Challender had stayed with Mercer and Scott in January
or February 2013. Challender believed that Scott kept money and
valuable guns in his house. Several weeks before the decision to travel
to Panama City, Challender also told Jeffries that he wanted to drown
Scott in his own pool, which Jeffries understood as an offhand comment
at the time. There was also some evidence presented that the plan to
travel to Panama City would also permit Challender to travel to his
mother’s upcoming wedding to another individual.
two weeks leading up to this decision, all three had chronically
consumed methamphetamines and marijuana. They had also been awake for
several days prior to the murder. Griffin agreed to use her car as their
vehicle. En route, an officer pulled the car over in Dothan, Alabama,
while Jeffries was driving the car. Although Griffin had an outstanding
warrant for check fraud, the officer only issued Jeffries a ticket for a
traffic violation and permitted them to proceed without arresting
After arriving in Lynn Haven later that day, they
purchased gloves from a local Walmart. This purchase was confirmed by
surveillance footage and a receipt from Walmart. Jeffries also informed
officers that they had purchased zipties earlier that day as well. After
purchasing gloves from the local Walmart, they drove past Scott’s house
several times that day and waited until dark. They knew that Scott, who
was ninety years old and suffered from some hearing loss, usually went
to sleep fairly early in the evening. Griffin dropped Jeffries and
Challender off at Scott’s home, with the understanding that she would
return to Alabama while Jeffries and Challender would stay at Scott’s
home for a week and use his debit cards and credit cards.
and Challender entered Scott’s home through a back window that
Challender knew was unlocked. As they crawled through the kitchen toward
Scott’s bedroom, lights in the bedroom were suddenly turned on, and a
physical fight between Scott and Challender ensued. Jeffries later
admitted that he chose to participate in the attack by subduing Scott
after Challender requested his assistance. Challender continued to beat
Scott as Jeffries worked to restrain Scott with a belt and electric
cords. At some point, Challender obtained two guns that were next to
Scott’s bed, beat Scott with one, and handed the other to Jeffries.
Challender demanded that Scott reveal the personal information number
(PIN) for his debit and credit cards.
Approximately twenty minutes
after she had left Jeffries and Challender at Scott’s residence,
Griffin received a phone call from Jeffries, who asked her to return.
When she arrived, Griffin did not want to enter the house; however,
Jeffries exited the house and sat in the car with Griffin for a few
minutes as they smoked marijuana and a cigarette before they entered the
According to Griffin and Jeffries, Challender was the
principal attacker, while Jeffries spent most of his time rummaging
through the house for items to take, and Griffin was directed to use
household cleaning products to clean the blood from the carpet. When
Scott refused to disclose his PIN, Challender threatened to cut off his
genitalia with scissors and sodomize him with a toilet plunger.
Challender apparently displayed some degree of force to support these
threats, as Scott was found with superficial lacerations on his penis,
and Griffin testified that she saw Challender strike Scott on the
buttocks with the plunger. Challender later informed Jeffries that Scott
bit him during their initial struggle and told Jeffries that if they
were apprehended, he would tell law enforcement that Griffin caused the
injuries to Scott’s penis. At some point in the evening, Scott told
Jeffries that he would cooperate if Jeffries removed the restraints and
helped him sit up, which Jeffries did. Jeffries also apologized to
Scott. After rendering some aid to Scott, Jeffries later returned to the
bedroom, but realized Scott had died. Upon exiting Scott’s house, the
group took $100 in cash, a ring, four guns, and a clock.
they left Scott’s residence, Jeffries, Griffin, and Challender engaged
in a series of arguments that escalated into Challender and Jeffries
pointing weapons at each other. The three eventually parted ways, and
Griffin was arrested shortly thereafter and assisted law enforcement in
the arrests of both Jeffries and Challender. After Griffin was arrested,
officers impounded and searched her car pursuant to a warrant.
May 22, 2013, Jeffries, Griffin, and Challender were indicted for
first-degree murder, armed burglary of a dwelling, and armed robbery.
After the cases were severed, the State proceeded against Jeffries in a
one-week trial. Griffin pleaded guilty to second-degree murder,
principal to armed burglary, and principal to armed robbery; in exchange
for cooperating with the State, she received a twenty-year sentence.
Griffin, who was by that time Jeffries’s fiancée, testified on behalf of
the State during Jeffries’s trial, but Challender did not testify. The
State also presented testimony from Scott’s granddaughter and friends,
who all testified that Scott was an active ninety-year-old man who swam
regularly. However, one witness described that during his last week,
Scott suffered back pain from an old injury that prevented him from
swimming, and Scott did have some trouble walking.
The State also
presented several law enforcement officers and technicians from BCSO, as
well as the surveillance footage and a receipt from the Lynn Haven
Walmart to confirm that Jeffries, Griffin, and Challender purchased
gloves on April 4, 2013. Kelly Dowd, an analyst from the Florida
Department of Law Enforcement, offered testimony regarding the DNA
testing performed on various items recovered from Scott, his home, and
Griffin’s car. Dowd testified that the tip of the blue glove contained a
mixed DNA profile matching both Jeffries and Scott. Further, electric
cords recovered near Scott’s body were found with blood and handler DNA,
which may be left on an object via skin contact. Testing of that DNA
provided a match to Scott’s known DNA profile. Blood obtained from a
pair of men’s blue jeans recovered from Griffin’s car also matched
Scott. Officers also recovered a black T-shirt from Griffin’s car that
contained blood from a mixed profile: the major contributor of blood
from the T-shirt was Scott, and the minor contributor of blood was
Challender. Dowd also testified that blood and handler DNA on the pair
of scissors recovered from Scott’s bedroom matched that of Scott.
Michael Hunter, the medical examiner for the Fourteenth Judicial
Circuit, also testified on behalf of the State. In addition to
describing the various injuries that Scott suffered before his death,
Dr. Hunter noted that some of the injuries to Scott’s hands and arms
could have resulted from attempts to repel an attacker. He offered an
opinion that the cause of Scott’s death was strangulation, along with
blood loss from multiple blunt injuries, after noting that Scott had
internal bruising and bleeding on the soft tissues of his neck, a
fractured hyoid bone, and petechial hemorrhages in his eyes and lips.
According to Dr. Hunter, Scott would have lost consciousness within
seconds, and death would have resulted several minutes later. In light
of Scott’s age, Dr. Hunter noted that Scott, who also suffered from
atherosclerosis, emphysema, and a diseased kidney, was likely to have
succumbed to loss of consciousness and death sooner than a younger,
Following the testimony of Dr. Hunter, the
State rested, and Jeffries presented Dr. William Robert Anderson, who
challenged Dr. Hunter’s opinion regarding the cause of death. According
to Dr. Anderson, Scott suffered partial strangulation, as evidenced by
the petechial hemorrhages and injuries to his neck. However, Dr.
Anderson opined that Scott was revived from the partial strangulation,
but ultimately died from aspiration of blood into his lungs as a result
of multiple injuries. Dr. Anderson reached this conclusion based on the
volume of blood found in Scott’s lungs, a factor that Dr. Hunter opined
was insignificant. After the testimony of Dr. Anderson, the defense
rested. On July 17, 2014, the jury convicted Jeffries of first-degree
murder under theories of both premeditated and felony murder, as well as
armed burglary of a dwelling, and armed robbery.
penalty phase, the State did not present any further evidence. Jeffries
presented testimony from family members regarding his childhood and
upbringing. According to various family members, Jeffries and his
siblings were placed in foster care for several years while his mother,
Mary Goldsmith, was incarcerated. An aunt of Jeffries testified that
Mary verbally abused Jeffries. Darrell Goldsmith, the ex-husband of Mary
and stepfather of Jeffries, testified that he treated Jeffries as his
son. Further, Darrell testified that Challender, Jeffries’s cousin, was a
bad influence on Jeffries: after Challender sold Darrell a motorcycle
that turned out to be stolen from Challender’s father, Darrell
discouraged Jeffries from spending time with Challender.
Kevin Jeffries was resentenced to life in prison
Kevin Jeffries 2019 Information
|Name:||JEFFRIES, KEVIN G|
|Initial Receipt Date:||10/01/2014|
|Current Facility:||COLUMBIA ANNEX|
|Current Release Date:||SENTENCED TO LIFE|
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