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Bobby Kent (May 12, 1973 - July 15, 1993) was an American who was murdered by seven others, including his best friend, Martin Joseph Puccio, Jr. (born March 21, 1973), in Hollywood in South Florida. Kent attended South Broward High School in Hollywood, Florida.

According to Tim Donnelley, who tried all the conspirators for his murder, one attorney described Kent as "very Eddie Haskell like. Adults saw him one way (polite and charming) while the kids saw him a completely different way."

Marty Puccio was born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Hollywood, Florida. He is an Italian-American and was raised Roman Catholic. Kent and Puccio had known each other since third grade, had lived on the same block in Hollywood in Broward County since that time, and were good friends as adults. Bad blood, however, existed between the two. Puccio felt "ill-will and hatred" towards Kent because he would bully and pummel Puccio. Both sets of parents were wary of the friendship as well. Puccio's parents, Martin Sr. and Veronica, were cautious because Marty often returned from being with Kent with bruises or bleeding. Fred Kent thought of Puccio as a wayward slacker who had no future (Puccio was a high school dropout) and felt the friendship with his son would destroy the future he was helping him build. Avid body builders, both boys used steroids, which, in Kent's case, according to testimonial accounts, significantly contributed to his erratic, aggressive behavior.

Kent and Puccio had experimented with making homosexual porn movies, hoping to sell them to local shops. Neither Kent nor Puccio actually participated in these movies, but rather allegedly directed them and coaxed Harry Suiter, a Florida man in his early 40s, to perform on camera. Kent tried to peddle a movie, entitled Rough Boys, to porn shops across South Florida. None took him up on the offer, however, due to the poor audio and video quality as well as the lack of any sexual activities in the film beyond Suiter dancing nude and playing with a dildo.[1]

Contents

Murder

A few weeks before his death, Kent began having sexual relations with Alice Jean "Ali" Willis, the best friend of Puccio’s girlfriend, Lisa Connelly. Willis broke up with Kent and moved back to her parents' home in Palm Bay, Florida, after he allegedly forced her to watch a graphic homosexual porn movie while he had rough anal sex with her. Kent reportedly threatened to murder her and smother her baby unless she returned to Broward County to date him. Willis returned; she and Connelly then concocted a plan to kill Kent.

The plan was for Willis to seduce Kent; while the two were having sex, Connelly would sneak up behind Kent and shoot him. The girls obtained a gun (taken from Connelly's mother without her knowledge) and lured Kent to a rock pit in an undeveloped area of western Broward County, Florida (at the time in the early stages of being developed as a subdivision), which is now the neighborhood of Weston. They backed out at the last minute, however. Connelly allegedly later said that she did not shoot Kent because the police can trace bullet fragments to the gun they originally came from.

The next day, July 15, 1993, a wider circle of friends conspired to kill Kent, including Derek Kaufman, a newcomer to the group who claimed to be a Mafia hit man. The group lured Kent back to the same rock pit.

Puccio had told Kent that they were going to race cars (specifically Willis's high-powered 5.0 Ford Mustang) and that Willis wanted to have sex with him again. That night, despite blistering Florida summer heat and humidity, Puccio was dressed in black jeans and a black trenchcoat with a red bandana tied around his head. According to Willis, "Marty [Puccio] came out of [his] house looking like Rambo."

Sometime around midnight, Willis led Kent away from the group down by a canal that ran up against the area. Heather Swallers then was instructed by Derek Kaufman to join them and figure out if Kent suspected anything. If not, she was to ask Kent if there were any alligators in the canal. Once she did that, the murder would commence. Swallers asked Kent if the canal had any alligators and Kent sarcastically told her she should go skinny dipping and find out for herself.

Almost immediately afterwards, Donny Semenec charged Kent and stabbed him from behind in his neck. Kent whirled around and called out to Puccio for help, saying, "Marty, whatever I did, I'm sorry." Puccio then stabbed him in the abdomen, and when Kent tried to flee, Semenec, Kaufman, and Puccio tackled him and stabbed and beat him. Several times during the murder, Kent begged Puccio for mercy, but Puccio continued. While Kent was down, Puccio cut his throat and hit his head against the ground so hard he fractured a vertebra in Kent's neck.

Kaufman delivered the final blow with a weighted baseball bat to the head. Kent's body was then dumped into a canal; however, there are conflicting reports over who did it, either Kaufman and Derek Dzvirko (Lisa's cousin who was also present) or Kaufman and Puccio.

Dzvirko led Detective Frank Illaraza of the Broward Sheriff's Office to Kent's body a few days later.

Conspirators
Conspirator's name Date of Birth Annotations
Martin Joseph (Marty) Puccio March 21, 1973 Kent's best friend since childhood and the boyfriend of Lisa Connelly.
Lisa Marie Connelly July 31, 1974 Marty's girlfriend. She was angry at Kent for beating and bullying Marty as well as allegedly raping her best friend, Alice Willis. Kent was also known to commonly refer to Connelly (who was overweight) as "fatass", "tatonka," "potlock" "chub" and "Shamu," often encouraging and/or forcing Puccio to do the same. On January 5, 1994, Lisa Connelly, who was Puccio's girlfriend, gave birth to their daughter, who was placed in the custody of Connelly's parents in Central Florida.
Ali Willis August 29, 1975 Kent's former girlfriend, she was set up with Kent by Connelly in the hopes that if he was with her, he'd leave Puccio alone. She was allegedly involved in a teenage prostitution ring prior to Kent's murder.
Donald Roth (Donny) Semenec Jr. July 15, 1975 Willis' boyfriend at the time of the murder. A habitual drug user, he supposedly helped in the murder because he was angry at Kent for raping his girlfriend. He struck the first blow against Kent. The murder occurred on his 18th birthday.
Derek Leon Kaufman May 8, 1973 A self-proclaimed mafia hitman whom the group enlisted to plan Kent's murder. He had no prior association with any of the other conspirators. With no actual connection to the mafia, he was the leader of a gang of youths seven-to-ten years his junior, who committed petty crimes such as theft.
Derek George Dzvirko November 2, 1973 Connelly's cousin, who was enlisted by Connelly to provide additional help. He was present but played a minor role in the murder. He borrowed one of the baseball bats used to kill Kent from a friend. Along with Swallers, he was offered and accepted a plea bargain in exchange for testimony that would help convict others in the group. The two were originally promised the same prison sentence; however Dzvirko got four extra years because he lied on the witness stand.
Heather June Swallers May 24, 1975 A previous friend of Willis who had just been released from drug rehabilitation. She was the member of the group deemed by the prosecution to be the least culpable for Kent's murder. Although she spoke the words that triggered the fatal attack, she had no direct participation in the killing itself and ran and hid in Willis's car once it started. She made the same plea bargain as Dzvirko did and got the promised sentence because unlike him, she did not lie during her testimony.

The co-perpetrators were convicted and sentenced as follows:

  1. Heather Swallers
    second-degree murder and conspiracy (seven years imprisonment); Released February 14, 1998
  2. Derek Dzvirko
    second-degree murder and conspiracy (11 years imprisonment) Released October 1, 1999
  3. Alice Willis
    second-degree murder and conspiracy (40 years imprisonment, later reduced to 17 years). She was released on parole on September 16, 2001 and is currently under community supervision for 40 years)
  4. Donald Semenec (aka Day)
    second-degree murder and conspiracy (life and 15 years imprisonment) currently serving life sentence[2]

The perpetrators were convicted and sentence as follows:

  1. Derek Kaufman
    first-degree murder and conspiracy (the jury recommended life and he was sentenced to life and 30 years imprisonment) He is incarcerated at Mayo/C.I. DC number 894391
  2. Lisa Connelly
    second-degree murder and conspiracy (life and five years imprisonment, which was reversed on appeal and reduced to 22 years; she was released on parole on February 3, 2004).
  3. Martin Puccio
    first-degree murder and conspiracy. He was sentenced to death by electric chair but it was commuted on appeal to life in prison. He is incarcerated at Desoto Annex DC number 963022.

Book and movie

The murder resulted in a best selling true crime book in 1998, Bully: A True Story of High School Revenge (ISBN 0-380-72333-6) written by Jim Schutze. The book was adapted by Zachary Long (a pseudonym used by David McKenna after he demanded his name be removed from the film[3]) and Roger Pullis into the 2001 film, Bully. The story was also covered during an A&E Television crime special.

In the film, Puccio was portrayed by Brad Renfro, Kent was portrayed by Nick Stahl, Willis was portrayed by Bijou Phillips, Connelly was portrayed by Rachel Miner, Semenec was portrayed by Michael Pitt, Swallers was portrayed by Kelli Garner, Dzvirko was portrayed by Daniel Franzese, and Kaufman was portrayed by Leo Fitzpatrick.

References

External links








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