BROOKSVILLE — A Spring Hill man accused of fatally beating his 81-year-old mother with a remote control and holding her underwater in the family pool in 2008 pleaded guilty Friday to a charge of second-degree murder.
Kevin Simmons, 59, initially faced a charge of first-degree murder and life in prison after Hernando County Sheriff's Office deputies found him sitting on the back patio, his mother Dorothy Simmons dead and partially submerged in the pool.
But Friday, Simmons accepted a plea deal before Ocala-based Circuit Judge William T. Swigert, filling in for Judge Stephen Rushing, that will send him to prison for a maximum of 25 years. Simmons' sentencing is July 15 at 10 a.m.
Simmons' attorney Tricia Jenkins said he pleaded guilty due to health reasons. Since his arrest, Simmons has suffered multiple heart attacks.
His hands shook constantly in the courtroom and he spoke rarely.
"In his condition, he believes it's in his best interest to not take the case to trial," Jenkins said.
Jenkins, who pushed Simmons into the courtroom in a wheelchair, said his poor health forced doctors to repeatedly delay his psychiatric evaluation. She called the case "the closest to an insanity plea" she'd seen in 27 years.
Assistant state attorney Pete Magrino said the lawyers, law enforcement and family members agreed to the plea deal.
"Rather than continue to have the case progress through the system and have a full trial, it's my opinion this was the best way," Magrino said.
Simmons lived with his wife, Margo Wyllie, and mother Dorothy Simmons on 1327 Altoona Ave. in Spring Hill. Simmons had built a 600-square-foot room for his mother in 2006 when she moved in.
Simmons crept to his mother's bedroom on Aug. 3, 2008, and beat her over the head at least 10 times with a telephone and a remote control, authorities said.
They reported he dragged her through the house to the backyard, leaving a bloody path between her bedroom and the pool.
His son, Christopher Simmons, who was visiting that night with his 8-year-old daughter, told deputies he pushed his father away and tried to pull his grandmother from the pool.
Simmons had no prior criminal record in Florida.
Laura J. Nelson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1432.