The two young men talked about the normal concerns of people their age — going to school and looking for jobs. And they talked about what they call the “mistake” they made eight years ago — when, at the ages of 12 and 13, they beat their father to death with a baseball bat, then set fire to their home to cover up the crime.
“Not to minimize the situation, but we all make mistakes and we shouldn’t be judged on one act and one spot in our life,” Derek King, now 21, told TODAY’s Matt Lauer Tuesday from Jacksonville, Fla. “There are times when we do see what we did wrong and we choose to move on past that, and we acknowledge the mistakes that we made and the bad choices that we made. And we can move on past that and hopefully, we learn from our past. And it sheds light on the future and it pushes us on toward a positive path.”
Hope for the future
That path has been made smoother by people who have come to the aid of the two brothers who shocked the nation in 2001 when they were charged as adults with the grisly killing. But establishing a normal life hasn’t been easy: Derek has been searching for a job for a year and has been turned down for even the lowest of positions because of what he did.
Lauer observed that there are people who will believe, “Once a murderer, always a murderer.” He asked Alex King, now 20, how the brothers deal with that.
“To be fair to those people, we did make a mistake,” Alex replied. “Many people do make that mistake. If they choose, they’re well within their rights to consider a person once a murderer, always a murderer. However, there are a select few individuals who sometimes decide to have faith and just blindly hope in something.”
Alex, who got out of jail last year, now lives with the family of Kathryn Medico, a journalism professor who took an interest in him a year after the murder. Medico believed in the boy and stood by him, giving Alex a stable family that the boys did not have at the time of the murder.
Derek and Alex’s mother, an exotic dancer, abandoned them when they were 6 and 7. Derek, a difficult child, was sent away to live with a foster family while Alex stayed with his father, Terry, a printer. When his father was busy, Alex stayed with a family friend, Rick Chavis, who was later revealed to be a sexual predator.