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Kentucky man guilty in Dunedin hatchet slaying of boyfriend

Published Oct. 27, 2016

Arthur DeCarvalho said he woke up on his birthday on June 5, 2014, to find his hands tied. Next to him was David Elsey demanding that they have sex.

So DeCarvalho decided to fight back, he told a jury during his first-degree murder trial on Thursday. He told Elsey, 50, he wouldn't resist and asked to be untied. As Elsey waited in his master bedroom, DeCarvalho walked to the garage and retrieved a hatchet.

"The next thing I know, I'm hitting the dude," he testified. "I remember seeing all the blood and freaking out. I covered his head up with all the covers, his body with a pillow because it just looked wrong. When I sit there and I looked at what I did, I was just like 'what the hell?' "

Pinellas sheriff's deputies found Elsey naked and hog-tied to his bed, prosecutors said. He had been struck in the head with the hatchet about a dozen times.

A 12-member jury found DeCarvalho guilty of first-degree murder on Thursday after deliberating for about an hour. He was sentenced to life in prison.

The men met online. On his dating profile, DeCarvalho wrote: "I'm in my 20s, fun, outgoing, classy and intelligent." On their first date, they ate pizza and watched Game of Thrones at Elsey's Dunedin home. DeCarvalho moved in the next day.

DeCarvalho, a Kentucky man who had just moved to Pinellas County with very little money, felt he "lucked out," he told the jury. The men established roles within their relationship: Elsey, a manager at the Nielsen Co., worked from home, while DeCarvalho cooked and cleaned.

Elsey bought him a laptop, a puppy, clothes from Target, DeCarvalho said. They visited Kay Jewelers, where Elsey asked DeCarvalho if they should look at engagement rings.

Even though they met on a dating website for gay men, DeCarvalho said he "had no feelings of that toward him."

But prosecutors told the jury that DeCarvalho was lying about the rape, and wanted to take advantage of Elsey's finances.

"Here's a young man out trolling on a gay website to find basically a sugar daddy to take care of him," said Assistant State Attorney Kendall Davidson, as he swung the hatchet enclosed in a bag in front of the jury. "This crime screams premeditation."

Assistant State Attorney Courtney Sullivan questioned DeCarvalho about his use of Elsey's credit cards and red Jaguar after the murder. In the two days after the murder, he went to Hooters, bought camping equipment and ate at Buffalo Wild Wings.

"I kind of thought of all the options to run," he said.

"So you went to Aveda to get a haircut?" Sullivan asked.

"Eventually," he said, "yeah."

DeCarvalho's defense team argued that Elsey's gifts came with expectations that the men would become intimate.

"David was looking for someone he could control," said Assistant Public Defender Gregory Williams.

After DeCarvalho told police that he killed Elsey because he assaulted him, Williams said, detectives never investigated the possible rape, instead focusing on the homicide.

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No one seemed to believe DeCarvalho's story, he added.

"Was he not acting like a traumatized rape victim? I guess I'd ask you, how is a rape victim supposed to react?"

Contact Laura C. Morel at Follow @lauracmorel.


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