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Sides in double-murder case battle over last paycheck

Frank McDermott, left, and Sarah Chaves, state their case Tuesday for Patrick Evans to receive his last paycheck from Jabil Circuit, which has offered to put it in a court-designated account.

CHERIE DIEZ | Times

Frank McDermott, left, and Sarah Chaves, state their case Tuesday for Patrick Evans to receive his last paycheck from Jabil Circuit, which has offered to put it in a court-designated account.

ST. PETERSBURG — The case of a globe-trotting corporate executive arrested on charges of double murder turned into a battle on Tuesday over his last paycheck.

As lawyers haggled in court over who should get that last check from his former employer, Jabil Circuit, it came out that Patrick Evans is planning a legal defense that could approach a half-million dollars.

To pay that bill and his $2,000-per-month child support, Evans needs his last check, his divorce attorney, Sarah Chaves, said in court Tuesday. But the estate of Elizabeth K. Evans, the wife he is accused of murdering, argues it should get some of the money.

"By killing his wife, he attempts to eliminate … Elizabeth Evans' share of the marital assets," attorney Michael J. Keane said in a motion.

Evans was a top executive at Jabil until Sept. 30, when he left for unspecified reasons. Jabil agreed to give him two severance payments. The amounts were not revealed in court. Jabil sent one of the payments, but Evans was arrested on murder charges before it could send the second.

He is accused in the Dec. 20 deaths of his wife, who was 44, and her friend Jerry B. Taylor, 43. They each were shot in the neck in her Gulfport condo. Evans was arrested the next day and has been held without bail in the Pinellas County Jail since then.

Evans' arrest left Jabil unsure what to do, especially after Elizabeth Evans' estate asked the company not to distribute any of the money to him. So Jabil offered to put the money in an account designated by the court.

But Chaves said the money should go to Evans. She pointed out in court that Jabil had agreed to pay him, not his wife. Also, divorce cases end when one party dies. She said Evans needs the money to defend himself in the murder case.

This led Keane, the attorney for Elizabeth Evans' estate, to ask about those attorney bills.

Under his questioning, criminal defense attorney Frank W. McDermott said his firm is under a $250,000 retainer. If he or fellow attorneys put in more than 1,250 hours on the murder defense, the firm would be paid an additional $250 per hour.

If the case goes to trial, the firm would be paid $125,000. And it already has received $12,500 of $25,000 that has been budgeted for experts and other expenses.

Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Amy Williams denied Chaves' motion to dismiss Jabil's plan, which could clear the way for the company to place the money in a special court account. That would get Jabil out of the dispute and allow Evans and his late wife's estate to battle later over who gets it.

Earlier this week, authorities released a transcript of a 911 call that forms a chilling account of the shooting. The recording was made after a phone at Elizabeth Evans' condo was left off the hook after 911 was called the night of the shooting.

In the recording, two people, apparently Taylor and Elizabeth Evans, are heard asking someone named "Rick" to put his gun down. Patrick Evans went by that name.

The transcript says a shot was fired, and a female screams: "Have you lost your … mind!"

Then another shot was fired. After that, silence.

Curtis Krueger can be reached at ckrueger@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8232.

Sides in double-murder case battle over last paycheck 01/13/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 14, 2009 12:09am]
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