Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Two life sentences for St. Petersburg murderer

LARGO — Demarlis Melvin shot and killed another man at St. Petersburg's Citrus Grove apartments and nearly killed another, in what prosecutor Doug Ellis called "the quintessential drive-by shooting."

So Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Thane Covert gave the 22-year-old man two life sentences on Monday. A jury convicted him earlier this year of murder and attempted murder.

Family members of the man Melvin killed, Michael K. Smith III, 18, said they feel such an intense pain they could never wish it on anyone.

"He was my only son. I saw him take his last breath," Smith's mother, Breeshell Devine, said, sobbing deeply. Now, she said of her only child, "I want to hold my baby again. I want to touch him."

With Melvin looking at her, Devine said he "was so heartless during his trial," and told him "if you were a real man you'd have manned up to what you did."

Melvin muttered that he didn't do it.

When Covert asked Smith's mother if she had anything more to say regarding Melvin, she said, "I wish his a-- was dead."

Smith's father, Michael K. Smith Jr., describing himself as a man of God, said he hopes Melvin will let God into his life too. He said he too has felt intense pain from losing a son, but he also believes justice has been served with Melvin's prosecution.

Because of that, he said, "today is a good day."

A grandmother and cousin of Melvin's spoke on his behalf on Monday. Both said Melvin had emotional difficulties as a child. And both said they were deeply sorry for what happened.

The shooting involved young men from Childs Park and Bethel Heights, two neighborhoods with a history of rivalries. But it appears to have begun with an argument.

Melvin was in a Dodge Durango with three other men driving near the Citrus Grove apartments on 16th Street S when an argument broke out between them and some people walking nearby. The men in the Durango returned, and Melvin began firing a gun, according to witnesses. The gun was never recovered, but 9mm shell casings were found nearby.

Melvin shot Smith in the head. He shot the cap off the head of another man, Phillip Peterson, who was not injured.

Reach Curtis Krueger at (727) 893-8232 or

Two life sentences for St. Petersburg murderer 05/10/10 [Last modified: Monday, May 10, 2010 11:17pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Behind the Lens: To capture an exhilarating moment, it's better to be lucky AND good


    Editor's note: Boyzell Hosey, our Assistant Managing Editor - Photography/Multimedia, shot this image while on a family vacation in Alaska. Below is his description of the shot.

  2. Council candidate James Scott sees a green future for St. Petersburg

    Local Government

    Times Staff Writer

    ST. PETERSBURG — James Scott's central tenet is sustainability.

    St. Petersburg City Council District 6 candidate James Scott. [JOHN PENDYGRAFT   |   TIMES]
  3. O.J. Simpson drawing world attention during plea for freedom


    LOVELOCK, Nev. — Former football star and convicted felon O.J. Simpson will command the world's attention once again Thursday when he pleads for his freedom on live TV.

    In this June 21, 1995 file photo, O.J. Simpson holds up his hands before the jury after putting on a new pair of gloves similar to the infamous bloody gloves during his double-murder trial in Los Angeles. During Simpson's trial, a prosecutor famously asks him to put on a pair of gloves allegedly worn by the killer. The gloves appeared to be too tight, reinforcing the immortal words of defense attorney Johnnie Cochran: "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit." [AP Photo/Vince Bucci, Pool]
  4. Florida education news: lawsuits, trans rights, recess and more


    ANOTHER ONE: Palm Beach County may be the next School Board to pick a legal fight with the state over the controversial HB 7069, but they may do it alone. Board members Wednesday seemed conflicted about whether to participate with other school boards, like Broward and St. Lucie counties, in a joint lawsuit or sue on …

    Ya'riah Ellison, 6, of Tampa, works on a pop art self portrait at the Glazer Children's Museum in Tampa on Friday, July 14, 2017. On Thursday, July 20th, a new pop art exhibition will open in which children will be able to create self portraits in a variety of ways including screen printing, pointillism and pop art methods
  5. Looking Back: The Ybor City Streetcar gets a new life (December 27, 1991)


    Before World War II Tampa's public transportation needs were covered by a network of Birney streetcars, with a peak of 24 million passengers in 1926. When a local streetcar enthusiast came across a 1920's model, she contacted the Tampa Trolley Society with an eye towards restoration. That streetcar would become the part …