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Arrest Made in Death Investigation

Update to death investigation in Indian Lake Estates

After an extensive investigation, numerous interviews, and several search warrants, on Friday, October 27, 2017, PCSO Homicide detectives arrested 63-year-old James “Jimbo” Pennington of 3500 Orchid Drive in Indian Lake Estates, Lake Wales, for First Degree Murder (F-C), Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon (F-2), 2 counts Tampering with Evidence (F-3), and Violation of Probation (M-2), in the fatal shooting of 30-year-old Devyn Martin that occurred on Thursday evening, October 26, 2017.

Below is an excerpt from the affidavit, and it is self-explanatory:

On October 26, 2017 at 1749 hours, Polk County Sheriff’s Office Deputies responded to the area of Orchid Drive and Lake Haven Drive (Indian Lake Estates), Lake Wales, regarding a reported shooting. Upon arrival, deputies were unable to locate a potential victim until a witness approached responding deputies and provided information regarding the shooting.

The witness advised he visited the defendant, James “Jimbo” Pennington, between 1545 hours and 1600 hours (10/26/17) at his residence located at 3500 Orchid Drive, Lake Wales. The witness stated the reason for the visit was to fix his bicycle. The witness stated the homeowner was also at the residence where they all played pool for about an hour before he and the defendant exited the residence to work on the bicycle. The witness stated about 30 minutes later the victim pulled up on the defendant’s property driving a red golf cart.

The witness stated the victim began talking to him about the palmetto berries he picked. The witness stated the defendant suddenly demanded that the victim leave his property. The witness stated the defendant told the victim to leave numerous times and the victim stated “F*** you!” The witness stated the defendant then immediately entered his residence and quickly returned with a bow and arrow, where the defendant immediately fired one arrow at the victim. The witness stated the victim was in possession of a small caliber rifle, which was located on his golf cart.

The witness stated the victim raised the rifle so the defendant could observe the firearm, but never pointed it in his direction or aimed at the defendant. While doing this, the victim stated, “You want to play with this?”

The witness stated the defendant entered the residence a second time and quickly returned with a firearm. The witness stated the defendant approached the victim, who was standing near the golf cart and attempted to conceal himself. The witness stated the defendant shot the victim from a distance of about 20 feet. The witness stated the victim called out for help before he ultimately collapsed. The witness stated the defendant told him (The witness) that he needed to help him with the body. The witness stated he told the defendant that he would not and The witness grabbed the victim’s flip phone to call 9-1-1; however, no phone service was available in the area. The witness stated he then placed the victim’s cell phone on the golf cart before fleeing the scene to notify neighbors to call 9-1-1. After 9-1-1 was notified, The witness went to the victim’s residence and notified the victim’s girlfriend about the shooting.

Polk County Sheriff’s Office Aviation subsequently located a golf cart in the wooded area approximately 300 yards west from the defendant’s residence. This location is located in between the incident location (3500 Orchid Drive) and where the suspect was taken into custody (3701 Orchid Drive). The victim identified as Devyn Martin was found deceased lying in a golf cart with visible gunshot wounds to the left side of his chest. The victim was observed slouched on his back on the passenger side of the golf cart. The victim had a black long sleeve shirt pulled over his right arm, which exposed his chest and stomach area. The victim was also wearing blue jeans that were located at his ankles and a pair of gray underwear down to his lower thigh area, which was consistent with dragging and pulling.

The victim’s girlfriend was interviewed, who advised she immediately responded to the defendant’s residence to confront the defendant about what occurred. She stated when she arrived at the defendant’s residence, she observed the defendant hosing himself off outside of his residence, which she thought was odd due to it being 55 degrees outside. She stated the defendant was only wearing a pair of “baggy” shorts and he was rubbing his body as he hosed himself off.

She stated she asked the defendant where the victim was, to which he responded, “I don’t know and I have not seen him.”

Other witnesses were interviewed, who confirmed they heard the shouting, and a gunshot, and that the defendant was seen shooting a firearm similar to the one the original witness described, during target practice. One witness told detectives that Pennington came to her house about thirty minutes after she heard the gunshot and attempted to jump in her pool. She advised him she had just shocked it, so he went in her home instead and used her shower. A towel with a small amount of blood on it was found in that bathroom. This contradicts the suspect’s original statement to deputies that he was wet from swimming.

Post Miranda, the defendant was interviewed at the Polk County Sheriff’s Office Operation Center. The defendant advised he was working on his bicycle on his property with The witness when the victim pulled up on a golf cart. The defendant stated approximately 1.5 weeks ago, the victim said some negative comments to him, which the defendant did not approve of. The defendant stated he told the victim to leave his property multiple times and stated the victim said “F*** you.” The defendant stated he went to his bedroom and retrieved a bow and arrow and returned outside. The defendant stated he aimed the arrow at the victim’s head and released the arrow, but missed. The defendant stated the victim grabbed his rifle, which led to the defendant getting “reinforcement” and he does not have to worry about the victim anymore. The defendant made the reference that the victim was no longer here and the “reinforcement” used could not be located. The defendant also stated he wished he had a cannon to blow up the victim.

The decedent (DEFENDANT) denied using a firearm and stated he did not have any type of ammunition or firearms at his residence. The decedent (DEFENDANT) also denied moving the victim’s body into the wooded area and stated he left to his girlfriend’s residence after the incident. A search warrant was executed at the defendant’s residence and a spent shotgun shell casing was found in the garbage can of his bedroom. Bow and arrows were also found inside the defendant’s residence.

Based on the investigation, it was determined the defendant committed the criminal act of 1st Degree Murder. The defendant also committed the criminal act of Tampering with Evidence involving the victim’s body and firearm (2 counts). The defendant is a convicted felon and committed the criminal act of Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. The defendant also violated his Polk County Probation as he is on Active Probation for Felony Criminal Mischief until 02/16/2018.

As a reminder, effective 7/1/2017, per Florida House Bill 111, the following amendment was added to FSS 119 exemptions:

(m)1. Criminal intelligence information or criminal investigative information that reveals the personal identifying information of a witness to a murder, as described in s. 782.04, is confidential and exempt from s.119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution for 2 years after the date on which the murder is observed by the witness.

Pennington’s criminal history includes 7 previous misdemeanors and 2 previous felonies, with the following arrests:

07/29/2016 – PCSO – Battery, Probation Violation

09/11/2014 – PCSO – Felony Criminal Mischief

03/2/2005 – PCSO – Poss Cannabis, Poss Drug Para

08/28/1999 – LWPD – Violation of Injunction for Protection

10/20/1998 – PCSO – DUI

04/25/1993 – Martin County SO – Probation Violation

10/04/1992 – Martin County SO – Disorderly Intoxication

09/09/1982 – Martin County SO – Trafficking Marijuana

In the interest of time, I am sending out his July 2016 mugshot (in the link below), because he’s being booked in right now and his current mugshot is not yet available. I can send out his current mugshot later today.

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