Alabama/The Mobile News

Brothers blame victim for fight

Brothers guilty of assault Though they escaped conviction of more serious charges, Boyingtons face up to 10 years in prison for severely beating man


Staff Reporter

BAY MINETTE - A Baldwin County Circuit Court jury on Wednesday rejected attempted-murder charges against two brothers who severely beat a Bay Minette man last year, convicting the pair of second-degree assault instead.

Donald Lynn Boyington Jr., 22, and Craig Christopher Boyington, 17, showed no emotion as Circuit Judge Lyn Stuart read the guilty verdicts. They each face a maximum prison term of 10 years.

"The state will ask for prison time," said Assistant District Attorney Carmen Bosch, who expressed satisfaction with the verdict despite the fact that the Boyingtons escaped more serious charges of attempted murder and first-degree assault.

Defense attorneys Peter Madden and Dom Soto said they would concentrate on their clients' sentencing hearing, scheduled for Sept. 21, before deciding whether to appeal the conviction.

"I'm disappointed in the result, but not surprised," said Madden, who represented Craig Boyington.

Soto, Donald Boyington's lawyer, said the verdict vindicated his contention that the attempted-murder charge far exceeded what occurred on that early morning in August 999 outside Bay Minette.

"It was ridiculous," he said.

Soto said jurors likely encountered difficulty sorting out the testimony of the witnesses, including three co-defendants who made deals with prosecutors and testified during the two-day trial.

"Half of those kids got up there and told a bunch of half-truths," he said.

What was not in dispute throughout the trial was that Lavoice "Jody" Estain Jr., who at the time was living with his aunt in Bay Minette, was taken to the hospital after being beaten early in the morning of Aug. 1, 1999. A group of young men, including the Boyingtons, participated in the confrontation off of Tall Pine Road outside of town.

The prosecution and defense differed greatly, however, over the circumstances surrounding the altercation.

Bosch contended that Craig Boyington was seething over a dispute from the previous night and sent a friend to bring Estain to the wooded area so he and his friends could ambush him.

Soto and Madden countered that it was Estain who was the aggressor. They played a tape from a 911 call Craig Boyington made the night before in order to bolster their argument that Craig Boyington was frightened of the bigger and older Estain.

In the tape, Boyington tells a dispatcher that Estain had threatened him and that he and several others were on their way over to his house.

Both Boyington brothers testified in their own defense Wednesday.

Craig Boyington said he was arguing with his girlfriend over the phone when Estain took the receiver away from her and threatened him.

Estain told him he was messing with the wrong girl and that he would kill him, Boyington testified.

"I didn't take it too seriously. Then when they pulled up to my yard and I took it pretty seriously," Craig Boyington said.

Ashley Smith, the Boyingtons' half-sister, testified that she listened on the other phone during Craig Boyington's conversation with Estain.

"Jody told my brother that he was going to kill him," she said.

Craig Boyington, who wore an orange shirt and tan pants in court, testified that Estain had had pulled him out of a car and thrown him in a ditch during a confrontation earlier that night.

Bosch, though, seized on multiple encounters Craig Boyington initiated with Estain over that two-day period as evidence that the teen-ager was not afraid, but angry.

Donald Boyington, dressed in a yellow shirt and tan pants in court, testified that he went to the spot where the attack was to occur because several friends had said his brother and Estain were going to fight.

He said he had no intention of fighting and hit Estain only after he threw a beer bottle at his brother. He said he struck Estain with a small tree limb in an attempt to break up the fight but that it soon got out of hand with the others joining in.

Craig Boyington testified that he hit Estain with a small baseball only once - after Estain had begun to tussle with the young man who had driven him to the area and after he threw the beer bottle.

Bosch used her summation to hammer home the point that the confrontation was a six-on-one affair.

"This case is still about a beating. It's about the wrongful, violent actions of these two men and their friends," Bosch said. "There was an ambush on that road. And there was injury. Now, there should be responsibility."

Estain said after the trial that he was pleased with the verdict.

"Justice was served," he said. "The DA's office did a good job on my behalf."

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