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Murder suspect hints at plea deal

The teenage suspect's attorney asks the judge to delay a trial until he can complete negotiations.

The attorney for one of three teens charged in the beating death of a 76-year-old Trilby man told a judge Wednesday a plea deal may be in the works and asked that his trial be held off until arrangements are made.

Attorney Sam Williams told Circuit Judge Wayne Cobb that he is preparing to negotiate for his client, Jesse Ray "J.R." Allen Jr., who was 16 at the time of Daniel Max Boyko's death last summer.

According to investigators, Allen and two other teens _ Damani Emmanuel, 19, and Lionel Kendall "Pop" Mitchell, 17 _ walked to Boyko's house on Trilby Road on the night of Aug. 9, 1999, and attacked the retiree as he sat in his 1995 Plymouth Neon.

In court papers filed by detectives, Emmanuel is accused of punching and choking Boyko to death.

Boyko's body was discovered five days later by a woman leaving a swimming hole in the High Bluffs area of the Withlacoochee State Forest.

The Pasco County Sheriff's Office reported that the three youths dumped Boyko's body, returned to his house and stole a VCR and a .22-caliber handgun, then drove the dead man's car to the end of a remote Lacoochee road and set it ablaze.

When questioned by detectives, Allen admitted he was in Boyko's car the night of the killing, according to Sheriff's Office reports.

The three teenagers are charged with first-degree murder and carjacking.

Allen, now 17, was in court Wednesday at a pretrial hearing along with Emmanuel and Mitchell. He did not speak as Williams asked the judge to hold another hearing in November before setting a trial date.

On Wednesday, Cobb set both Emmanuel and Mitchell for trial Dec. 11. They are not scheduled to be tried together.

Outside the courtroom, Williams said negotiations are at their earliest stage and said he still had to discuss the issue with his client. Possible deals could include pleading guilty to lesser crimes, such as second-degree murder, that would offer alternatives to the life sentence Allen would face if convicted.

The case against his client is not clear-cut, and a trial is also possible, Williams said.

Williams said he has not ruled out allowing Allen to testify at trials for Emmanuel and Mitchell but said that would be part of the negotiations.

Prosecutor Phil Van Allen said he has not discussed a deal with Williams.

The three teens returned to Pasco County jails after the hearing. Emmanuel is being held at the Land O'Lakes facility, while Allen and Mitchell are being held in New Port Richey.