BROOKSVILLE — A Hernando County grand jury on Friday indicted Byron Keith Burch on a charge of first-degree murder in the slaying of an 80-year-old Brooksville woman in her home last month.
Burch, a 39-year-old career criminal known in the neighborhood as "One-Eyed Jack'' because of damage to his left eye, was arrested May 25 in the death of Sarah Davis.
According to reports, Davis' family contacted the Hernando County Sheriff's Office late May 15 when they had not heard from her. Deputies found her body early the next morning in the blood-splattered house on St. Francis Street.
Authorities said that Davis had tried to help Burch by allowing him to perform odd jobs around the house but that he killed her to steal her jewelry and sell it to buy drugs. The grand jury also charged Burch with burglary of a dwelling while armed.
Pete Magrino, the chief homicide prosecutor in Hernando County, said he was prepared to seek the death penalty.
"Given the facts and circumstances of Ms. Davis' murder, I fully anticipate that will be filed," Magrino said. "He deserves to meet a premature death by other than natural means. That means a legal and lawful execution."
Over the years, Burch has shuffled between the county jail and prison.
Magrino said Burch is also a distant relative of Davis but wasn't quite sure of the exact relationship.
Davis, one of the matriarchs of south Brooksville, taught most of its residents over the course of a 30-year education career at Moton School, which was once the only school that African-Americans could attend in Hernando County.
After she retired from the classroom, Davis maintained a visible presence in the community. She volunteered at her church, Bethlehem Progressive Baptist; headed up the neighborhood's crime watch; and worked at one of the nearby sheriff's substations for 14 years.
Joel Anderson can be reached at email@example.com or (352) 754-6120.