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After break in case, Clearwater woman convicted of husband's 2008 murder

Rebecca Ayn Fenton
Rebecca Ayn Fenton
Published Nov. 14, 2015

LARGO — Police always suspected Rebecca Ayn Fenton killed her husband Larry in 2008, but they weren't able to arrest her until last year. Now she's headed to prison for the rest of her life.

A Pinellas County jury convicted Fenton of first-degree murder. Circuit Judge Joseph Bulone immediately sentenced her to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Prosecutors told a Pinellas County jury that Fenton, now 48, was financially motivated to kill her husband. A prenuptial agreement signed when the couple married in 2004 would have limited her spousal support if the marriage had been dissolved, but she was the beneficiary of life insurance and other benefits in the event of his death.

Fenton said she had nothing to do with the killing, but the evidence eventually told a different story.

On Feb. 3, 2008, Fenton called 911 to report that her husband was lying in a pool of blood in the foyer of their Clearwater home at 1051 Nokomis St. An autopsy determined that Larry Fenton, 57, had been shot in his back, arm and neck.

Fenton told Clearwater police that she was working out in the detached garage of the home when she heard something falling off the roof. When she went into the house, she said, she discovered her husband's body. She also told detectives she had checked for Larry's pulse, but the pool of blood "appeared undisturbed" and she did not have blood on her hands or her shoes, according to the indictment.

Investigators later searched Rebecca Fenton's Hyundai Sonata, where they discovered a white plastic bag that contained the keys to Larry's Jeep, a gun case and jewelry. They also found a .38-caliber revolver he had purchased in November 2007. The revolver contained five spent casings — the same number of bullets that had been fired in the Fentons' home. Authorities determined that the bullets had been fired from Larry Fenton's revolver.

Fenton's proclamation of innocence meant investigators would have to believe a version of events that didn't make sense, said Detective Michael Hasty, who was assigned to take a fresh look at the case in 2012. Why would an intruder target a home on Super Bowl Sunday with cars in the driveway, find Fenton's gun and shoot him, drive his Jeep a block away, return to plant the murder weapon in another car and leave valuables behind?

A break in the case came after Hasty contacted a former boyfriend of Rebecca Fenton's, Alfred Nolen, who testified that Fenton held a knife to his throat during a domestic dispute and said, "I'll kill you like I killed Larry."

"It's the totality of the entire investigation that resulted in her arrest, indictment and ultimate conviction," Hasty said.

Contact Tony Marrero at tmarrero@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8779. Follow @tmarrerotimes.