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Polk County man shoots, kills man who rode golf cart onto his property, deputies say

Deputies: Man tries to hit victim with bow and arrow before shooting

James Pennington, 63, is accused of fatally shooting a 30-year-old man who refused to leave his property, Polk County deputies say (July 2016 mugshot -- Oct. 27, 2017 mugshot not yet available).
James Pennington, 63, is accused of fatally shooting a 30-year-old man who refused to leave his property, Polk County deputies say (July 2016 mugshot -- Oct. 27, 2017 mugshot not yet available). (Photo courtesy of PCSO)

LAKE WALES, Fla. – A 63-year-old man accused of fatally shooting another man who refused to leave his Lake Wales property Thursday evening was arrested Friday, the Polk County Sheriff's Office said.

Deputies said a witness was at James Pennington's home on Orchid Drive getting his bike fixed outside when the victim, Devyn Martin, 30, rode a red golf cart onto Pennington's property and began talking about palmetto berries he picked.

The witness said Pennington told Martin to leave multiple times, but that Martin said, "[Expletive] you," and refused to leave. Pennington then went inside and grabbed a bow and arrow before immediately launching it toward Martin's head, but missed, deputies said.

Martin grabbed a rifle from the golf cart and raised it to show Pennington as he asked, "You want to play with this?" the witness said.

Pennington went back inside and grabbed a gun before walking toward Martin, the witness told authorities. Martin tried to grab the rifle from the golf cart before Pennington shot him, causing him to collapse, the witness told authorities. 

The witness said Pennington asked him to help him with the body, but the witness refused and tried to call police using the victim's cellphone but could not get service, so he went to a neighbor's home to contact authorities, according to the Sheriff's Office. 

Deputies found Martin's body on the golf cart 300 yards from Pennington's home using the Sheriff's Office helicopter, authorities said.

After the witness told the victim's girlfriend what happened, she went to confront Pennington and found him hosing himself off, deputies said. Pennington told the woman he hadn't seen Martin, the Sheriff's Office said.

Another witness told deputies that Pennington tried to jump in her pool, but she told him it had just been shocked, so he went inside her home to shower instead, deputies said. Authorities said a small amount of blood was found on the towel he used to shower.

While detectives were interviewing Pennington, he told them that Martin had made negative comments toward him a week and a half ago, the Sheriff's Office said.

Pennington said he tried to hit Martin in the head using the bow and arrow, but denied having a firearm. Deputies said he also denied moving Martin's body to the woods.

Following the interview, Pennington was charged with first-degree murder, tampering with evidence, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and violating his probation for felony criminal mischief, which he was set to remain on until February 2018.


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