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Alcohol or drugs may have played role in Plant City wife's 2011 slaying

Defendant Lawrence Dickey breaks down before jury selection Monday in Tampa.

CHRIS ZUPPA | Times

Defendant Lawrence Dickey breaks down before jury selection Monday in Tampa.

TAMPA — Detectives have never offered a reason why a married couple's date night in 2011 ended in violent death in their Plant City bedroom.

But during jury selection Monday for Lawrence Dickey, 46, charged with first-degree murder of his wife, Beatrice, attorneys hinted that alcohol or drugs played a role.

Dickey is accused of fatally clubbing his wife with an aluminum baseball bat after returning from a Journey concert to their household full of children.

Before 12 jurors and two alternates were chosen, a jury pool of 80 was asked if drugs or alcohol impairment could ever be a mitigating factor in a crime. No juror thought so. But one said she attended the same concert on Sept. 17, 2011, and remembered "a lot of people drinking."

Three of the couple's four children and a young family friend were in the home after midnight when Beatrice Dickey, 44, was attacked.

One of them, the couple's 12-year-old son, provided a nightmare narrative to investigators. The boy said he was sleeping on the couch in the living room after midnight when Lawrence Dickey woke him.

"Dad came over to me and started rubbing my head. He was telling me over and over that he will always love me and my mom will always be my angel," he told detectives.

The boy said he then heard his father get a bat from the garage and go into the couple's bedroom. "I heard three loud thumps," he said.

Plant City police answered a 911 call from another son, age 17. They found the couple's 16-year-old daughter in the bedroom with her mother, sobbing and trying to wipe blood away.

When jurors were told that some of the children will testify this week, Dickey began crying.

Beatrice Dickey was an executive assistant to Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd. She was a breast cancer survivor. Their father was a loss-prevention officer for Walmart. They were a blended family. Each parent brought two children to the marriage.

The trial, which is expected to last all week, resumes today.

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this story.

Alcohol or drugs may have played role in Plant City wife's 2011 slaying 12/17/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 18, 2012 12:08am]
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