TAMPA — A houseful of children will be the star witnesses when Lawrence Dickey, 45, stands trial on charges he fatally clubbed his wife, Beatrice, with a baseball bat last year after the couple returned home from a Journey concert.
Three of the couple's children and a young family friend were in the Plant City home on Sept. 18 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. The boy's statement was released Tuesday by the Hillsborough County State Attorney's Office.
"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. It was kind of weird because he never does that.
"I heard him go into the garage.
"I heard him get the bat. I knew it was a bat because he dropped it on the floor and I heard it.
"I heard three loud thumps coming from my dad's room.
"I heard my dad come out and get his keys, then leave. … I heard tires screeching, then nothing.
"I called out to (mom), but she didn't answer. I heard (my sister) screaming and saying someone hit (mom) in the head with a bat.
"I know my dad did it."
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.
On the bed lay an aluminum Louisville Slugger.
None of the children said they actually saw the attack. They said their parents weren't arguing when they got home. Prosecutors haven't publicly offered a motive.
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.
A Plant City police officer recognized Lawrence Dickey when the father skidded his SUV to a stop at the police station just minutes after the attack.
Dickey was shirtless, wearing only gym shorts.
He simply turned and put his hands behind his back.
According to Plant City police, he said, "Lock me up, I just beat my wife with a bat. She is hurt real bad."
Dickey is charged with first-degree murder. No trial date has been set.
John Barry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.