In less than two-days, teams of law enforcement deputies and detectives have arrested a local 17-year-old expelled student, with a criminal past, who Sheriff Rick Staly told Historic City News reporters this evening, could be the first juvenile arrest on his watch that could turn into a death penalty conviction.
Staly made the announcement at his offices on Palm Sunday, identifying Marion Lee Gavins Jr., as the shooter in the murder of 18-year-old Curtis Israel Gray just after midnight, early Saturday morning.
“Our detectives worked swiftly and strategically to solve this murder and were able to take Gavins into custody without anyone else getting hurt,” Sheriff Rick Staly said. “This is a tragedy for two families, one who lost a son who was an aspiring athlete and the other whose son will likely spend the rest of his life in prison — or face the death penalty. I hope this fast arrest will help the Gray family with their loss.”
Through the investigation, it was revealed that an altercation occurred outside the Coin Laundry on Belle Terre Boulevard, near Palm Coast Parkway. Deputies and Sheriff’s detectives were able to interview witnesses and identify Gavins as a possible suspect within 24-hours.
A felony traffic stop was conducted on the driver of a car after it was observed leaving Gavins’ house on Saturday afternoon. Also, on yesterday afternoon, deputies, assisted by the Flagler SWAT team, served a search warrant at 23 Woodfaire Lane in Palm Coast. The actual vehicle used in the commission of the murder was in the garage at that address; however, Gavins was not in the home and was not in the car previously stopped.
Around 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, deputies spoke with Gavins’ mother. She agreed to meet at the Sheriff’s District 2 Office in Palm Coast. At 3:00 p.m. today Gavins turned himself in, with his mother present, and he was arrested.
Gavins has a criminal arrest history dating back to 2014. He was arrested in October of 2014 for sale of marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school. In 2015, he was arrested for violation of probation and possession of an 8-inch kitchen knife on school campus. In 2016, Gavins was arrested for domestic violence against his mother.
As described in the incident report and affidavit; witness 1, the driver of a GMC Yukon, and witness 2, the front seat passenger, picked up five other people and took them to the parking lot of the crime scene at 4845 Belle Terre Parkway.
Upon their arrival, the driver and front seat passenger, and another witness who was later identified as a rear seat passenger, joined the rest of the group and they went to the Shell gas station located at 890 Palm Coast Parkway Southwest.
Gavins and Slagado stayed inside of the Smoke Shop for several minutes until the victim entered. Gavins and Slagado followed Gray in. Gray finished his business and left the store. He went to his vehicle, parked nearby. He was talking to a friend who was inside his vehicle when Gavins and Slagado exited the Smoke Shop.
According to witness statements and other investigative techniques, by the time Gray saw Gavins, Gavins was back inside of the Yukon and sitting in the rear passenger seat. As the Yukon began to reverse, Gray approached the vehicle on foot. Gavins pointed a handgun at Gray and fired it one time, striking him in the abdomen. Gray collapsed.
Emergency medical personnel were dispatched to the scene and stabilized Gray as best they could. He was prepared to be transported to Halifax Hospital in Daytona Beach, where additional medical treatment was available. Gray died at the hospital from his injuries.
After the gun shot, witnesses say that Gavins and other passengers sped off in the Yukon, traveling south on Belle Terre Parkway.
Detective Moy contacted two of the witnesses. They said that, after they went to the Shell gas station, they returned to the Smoke Shop. While at the Smoke Shop, Gavins and Slagado entered the Yukon. They said that Slagado again sat behind the driver and Gavins again sat behind the passenger.
According to a statement from a passenger witness in the Yukon, the driver stopped and Gavins pulled out a handgun and shot Gray. Reportedly, Gavins pointed the gun at the driver and told him where to drive. The driver parked the Yukon inside the garage located at 23 Woodfair Lane. These witnesses identify Gavins as a “light skinned male with a tattoo on his neck.”
Detectives reviewed the body cam video from a responding deputy who was speaking to Gray in the back of an ambulance. Gray stated that a light skinned male with a neck tattoo, whom he believed was named “Alex”, was the person who shot him.
A search warrant was subsequently served at 23 Woodfair Lane and law enforcement located the GMC Yukon in the garage.