Thursday, September 23, 2010

New Kid on Florida's Death Row

Randall Deviney
The Bad Boy of Bennington Drive
by Robert A. Waters

The screams coming from the home on Bennington Drive in Jacksonville, Florida were loud enough to cause all the dogs in the neighborhood to start barking. Several neighbors called 911 and police soon arrived. Shortly after 10:30 p.m. on August 5, 2008, responding officers made their way into a house of horrors.

They found sixty-five-year-old Delores Futrell lying on the floor of her home. She’d been beaten, stabbed repeatedly, and had her throat slashed. Her clothes had been cut off her body, and her empty wallet lay on the floor. The bloody scene shocked even the cops--it was obvious that a frenzy of rage had overtaken the killer or killers. Neighbors, stunned and saddened to hear that one of their own had been murdered, began an all-night vigil outside the well-tended townhouse.

An eighteen-year-old ex-con named Randall Deviney quickly aroused the suspicions of Futrell's relatives. He lived on Byner Drive, a few houses down from the murdered woman. As the stunned family grieved outside Futrell's home, Deviney rode back and forth on his bicycle. Even though he knew the family and had been be-friended by Futrell, he seemed hyper and would not stop to speak. To many in the crowd, it seemed as if Deviney was attempting to listen to the conversations of bystanders in an attempt to gain information.

Finally, he approached two of Futrell's daughters. He asked if Futrell had been raped, further heightening their suspicions.

Deviney liked being known as a bad-ass, a punk with a mean streak. He’d attended Ed White High School, but majored in misconduct instead of academics. To say that he was a poor student was being generous. A former teacher described the young hoodlum as a budding sociopath. “[Deviney] was just defiant and disrespectful, without conscience and remorse,” the teacher said. “He thought he could behave however he wanted. School was nothing more than an inconvenience to him, and if any teacher got in his way they could expect a tirade of foul language...”

Deviney should have been in prison when Futrell was murdered. He’d been released after serving one year of a three-year stint in the state penitentiary. His arrest record included aggravated assault, sexual battery, grand theft, armed robbery, trafficking in stolen property, and other crimes. Shortly after being released, Deviney committed yet another robbery. Instead of putting him back in prison, however, a judge let him back out on the streets. Four months later, Futrell was dead.

With a blanket of tattoos covering his body, Deviney looked like a walking advertisement for cheap prison art. He’d had little nurturing as a child. Indeed, both his parents had been imprisoned for murdering their sixteen-month-old son. They admitted during his trial that they were unfit parents. Deviney’s childhood was plagued with messy divorces, domestic violence, abuse, and drug use. “With his family, he never had a chance,” said his lawyer, Melina Buncome-Williams.

It was the same argument always used by the defense when the evidence against their client is overwhelming. While attempting to make the killer into a victim, attorneys never mention the millions of individuals raised in dysfunctional homes who live productive lives and don't murder old defenseless ladies.

The real victim, of course, was Delores Futrell. She’d worked as a dialysis technician before retiring, and had four children, seventeen grandchildren, and more great-grandchildren than anyone could count. She was described as a “spiritual person” who cared deeply for others. She loved cooking and tending her garden.

Futrell suffered with multiple sclerosis. Because of her condition, she had trouble maintaining her balance. She also had little strength or stamina, leaving her vulnerable.

As Deviney grew up, Futrell attempted to help the struggling teen. She baked cakes and cookies for him and his brother, paid him to perform odd jobs around the house, and counseled him on the direction his life was taking.

Early in the investigation, detectives questioned the violent ex-con. With no evidence to prove that he was the killer, however, they released him. Then, three weeks after the crime, a DNA profile came back from the lab. Skin from beneath the fingernails of Futrell had been matched to Randall Deviney.

He was arrested and charged with the murder of the woman he used to call his "godmother." Deviney confessed, stating that as she once again attempted to counsel him on going straight, he “snapped” and killed her. He informed investigators that he beat the defenseless woman until she was helpless. When she didn’t die, he retrieved a fillet knife he’d brought to the scene and cut her throat. Futrell was still alive, so Deviney stabbed her repeatedly until she died.

It was a horrible death that demanded the ultimate justice.

In 2010, the bad boy of Bennington Drive was convicted and sentenced to death.

“He picked the easiest prey,” said prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda. “This was the classic case of why we need the death penalty. It’s horrific. An innocent elderly lady is savagely murdered in her home. What other sentence could there be?”

Judge Mallory Cooper stated her reasons for sentencing Deviney to death. “Delores Futrell struggled to survive and scream for help,” Cooper said. “However, her struggle to escape the defendant’s attack was to no avail. There is no doubt that for each of her final breaths, she was acutely aware of her impending death.”

After the verdict, Futrell's daughter, Helen Futrell-Stewart, spoke to reporters. “I am left with a hole in my heart,” she said. She stated that the family was glad the trial was over and they were happy the killer received death.

If there ever was a case that deserves the death penalty, it's this one. There's no question about the guilt of the killer. According to witnesses in the courtroom, he had absolutely no remorse, and would joke with his defense attorneys while the jurors were outside. It seems obvious that Deviney has a rage to kill, and would certainly murder again if released. And Delores Futrell's family is crushed with the weight of Deviney's horrific act.

Lethal injection is too easy for this cold-blooded killer.

7 comments:

Debra said...

Much of the information written in this post is inaccurate. However the horrendous and unconscionable murder of my sister by her low life neighbor is indisputable. Overturing his conviction would be like slapping RD on the wrist and her beloved family in the face.

Robert A. Waters said...

Hi Debra,

Please send me a personal email and I'll be glad to change any inaccuracies. I agree--I hope the creep is executed. Email me at sunstruck13 at gmail.com and let me know what I need to change.

Robert

Robert A. Waters said...

Sorry, that email address is sunstruck16 at gmail.com

Debra said...

Thank you for making corrections. The tone of your article accurately conveys how we feel - shock, anger, frustration at his feeble excuses, and the need to see justice fully carried out for my sister.

Helen said...

We definitely appreciate the changes to the story. This article better explains the cold callousness of Randall and his utter disrespect for human life.

J said...

I thought I had thanked you a long time ago for the corrections you made to the article but in reading it again I see that my comments did not come through. I apologize for that. I want to tell you that I really appreciate this write up that you did. The family is still healing, each of us has our own way of dealing with this and all of us are doing it the best way we can. With God in our hearts we will make it. I just keep praying that this animal does not stay on death row too long and justice is served so the family can have some closure. Thank you again.

J said...

Deviney's death conviction was overturned by the Supremem court even though there was a confession and DNA evidence. They threw out the confession. If you care to update the store the new trial is going to begin Feb 24 in Jacksonville. Thanks!