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Martin Joseph PUCCIO Jr.

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 


A.K.A.: "Marty"
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Revenge
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: July 15, 1993
Date of birth: March 21, 1973
Victim profile: Bobby Kent (male, 20)
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Weston, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison on July 27, 1995
 
 

 

Florida Supreme Court

 
opinion 86242
 
 

 
 

Martin Joseph Puccio, Jr. (born March 21, 1973) (usually called Marty) is an American currently serving a life sentence for murder. In the early morning hours of July 15, 1993, Puccio, along with six others killed Bobby Kent in what is now Weston, Florida.

Early life

Marty Puccio was born in Brooklyn, New York but was raised in Hollywood, Florida. He and Kent had been friends since third grade. Puccio is an Italian-American and was raised Roman Catholic. Kent was of Iranian descent and, reportedly, had no religious affiliation.

Teenage Years and Relationship with Bobby Kent

Kent and Puccio had known each other since third grade, had lived on the same block in Hollywood since that time, and were best friends as young adults. Bad blood, however, existed between the two. Puccio felt "ill-will and hatred" towards Kent because Kent would bully and pummel him.

The murder

According to sources, for a few weeks prior to his death, Kent dated Alice (Ali) Willis, best friend of Puccio’s girlfriend, Lisa Connelly, and when Willis moved back with her parents in Palm Bay, Florida, and broke up with him, Kent said he was going to murder her and smother her baby unless she returned to Broward County to date him.

Willis returned and she and Connelly concocted a plan to kill Kent. The girls obtained a gun and lured Kent to a rock pit in west Broward but backed out at the last minute. Later that night, Kent and Willis were seen holding hands but then, according to Willis, Kent raped her at her house.

The next day, July 15, 1993, allegedly a wider circle of friends conspired to kill Kent and again lured him to the rock pit in an undeveloped area in western Broward County, Florida, which is now part of the city of Weston. Puccio had told Kent that they were going to race cars (specifically Willis' 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, a black trenchcoat and had a red bandana tied around his head. According to Willis, "Marty 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 she felt he didn't, Kaufman told her 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 after, Donny Semenec charged Kent and stabbed him from behind
in his neck. Kent whirled around and called out to Puccio for help. 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 pleaded and begged Puccio for mercy, telling his friend "I'm sorry! Marty, whatever I did, I'm sorry!" but Puccio continued. Kaufman delivered the final blow with a weighted baseball bat to the head. Kent's body was then dumped into a canal, according to the court report, by Kaufman and Puccio.

Dzvirko was also the one who led Det. Frank Illaraza of the Broward County Sheriff's Office to Kent's body a few days later. The extent of Puccio's culpability in the death of Kent is still vehemently disputed today.

Others Involved

Lisa Marie Connelly (born July 31, 1974): Marty's girlfriend. Was angry at Kent for beating and bullying Marty as well as allegedly raping her best friend, Ali 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.

Alice Jean Slay (Ali Willis) (born August 29, 1975): Kent's former girlfriend, set up with Kent by Connelly in the hopes that if he was with her, he'd leave Puccio alone. Allegedly involved in a teenage prostitution ring prior to Kent's murder.

Donald Roth (Donny) Semenec Jr. (born July 15, 1975): Willis' boyfriend at the time of the murder. Habitual drug user. Supposedly helped in the murder because he was angry at Kent for raping his girlfriend. Struck the first blow on Kent. Murder occurred on his 18th birthday.

Derek Leon Kaufman (born May 8, 1973): Self-proclaimed mafia hitman who the group enlisted to plan Kent's murder. Had no association to any of the other conspirators prior to this. Was actually the leader of a gang of youths 7-10 years younger than he was, who committed petty crimes such as theft.

Derek George Dzvirko (born November 11, 1973): Connelly's cousin who was enlisted for extra help by Connelly. Played a minor role in the murder, borrowed one of the baseball bats used to kill Kent from a friend. Along with Swallers, 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 for attempting to lie on the witness stand.

Heather June Swallers (born May 24, 1975): Previous friend of Willis who had just gotten out of drug rehab. The member of the group deemed by the State of Florida to be the least culpable for Kent's murder. Had no participation in the murder itself and ran and hid in Willis' car once it started. Cut the same plea bargain as Dzvirko did and got the promised sentence because unlike him, she did not lie during her testimony.

Media

The story of the killing is described in Jim Schutze's book Bully: A True Story of High School Revenge, which was made into a 2001 movie called Bully directed by Larry Clark. Puccio was portrayed by Brad Renfro in the film. The A&E television network also documented the story on its popular American Justice program.


Murder of Bobby Kent

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 what is now Weston in South Florida. Kent attended Cooper City High School in Cooper City, Florida.

Childhood and teenage years

Bobby Kent was, by many accounts, a popular, athletic boy. He earned a decent grade point average in school and played sports. His parents, Fred and Farah Kent, had high aspirations for him; Fred was self-employed as a stockbroker, and had plans to set his son up running his own business once he graduated from college. Kent, who was an avid car stereo enthusiast and had his own vehicle sound system that was worth several thousand dollars, had told his father that was the type of business he would like to get into.

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 Kent would bully and pummel him.

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. Both boys were avid steroid users which, according to testimonial accounts, significantly contributed to Kent's erratic, aggressive behavior. Puccio felt "ill-will and hatred" towards Kent because Kent bullied and antagonized him physically and emotionally.

Kent and Puccio had also delved into making homosexual porn movies in the hopes they could sell them to local shops to earn extra money. Neither Kent nor Puccio actually participated in these movies, but rather allegedly directed them and either coaxed or forced Harry Suiter, a Florida man in his early 40s, to perform on camera. Kent tried to peddle the movie, entitled Rough Boys, to porn shops across South Florida. However, none took him up on the offer 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.

Murder

A few weeks prior to his death, Kent dated Alice Jean Slay, best friend of Puccio’s girlfriend, Lisa Connelly. Slay moved back with her parents in Palm Bay, Florida, and broke up with Kent after Kent allegedly forced Slay to watch a graphic homosexual porn movie while he had rough sex with her. Kent reportedly said he was going to murder her and smother her baby unless she returned to Broward County to date him. Slay returned and she and Connelly concocted a plan to kill Kent. The girls obtained a gun (Connelly's mother's gun which Lisa stole from her for that night) and lured Kent to a rock pit in west Broward, but backed out at the last minute.

The plan was for Slay to seduce Kent and begin having sex with him. While this was happening, Connelly would sneak up behind Kent and shoot him. 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 the newly recruited Derek Kaufman, who the group heard through friends was a gang leader and Mafia hitman. Prior to meeting the group, Kaufman had no association with Kent, Puccio or any other member. The group again lured Kent to the rock pit in an undeveloped area in Western Broward County, Florida (at the time in the early stages of being developed as a subdivision), which is now the neighborhood of Weston.

Puccio had told Kent that they were going to race cars (specifically Slay's high-powered 5.0 Ford Mustang) and that Slay 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 Slay, "Marty came out of [his] house looking like Rambo."

Sometime around midnight, Slay 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 she felt he didn't, Kaufman told her 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 after, Donny Semenec charged Kent and stabbed him from behind in his neck. Kent whirled around and called out to Puccio for help. 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, telling his friend "I'm sorry! Marty, whatever I did, I'm sorry!", 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 along) or Kaufman and Puccio.

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

Conspirators

  • Martin Joseph (Marty) Puccio - March 21, 1973 - Kent's best friend since childhood, boyfriend of Lisa Connelly.
     

  • Lisa Marie Connelly - July 31, 1974 - Marty's girlfriend. Was angry at Kent for beating and bullying Marty as well as allegedly raping her best friend, Alice Slay. 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.
     

  • Alice Jean Slay (Ali Willis) - August 29, 1975 - Kent's former girlfriend, set up with Kent by Connelly in the hopes that if he was with her, he'd leave Puccio alone. Allegedly involved in a teenage prostitution ring prior to Kent's murder.
     

  • Donald Roth (Donny) Semenec Jr. - July 15, 1975 - Slay's boyfriend at the time of the murder. Habitual drug user. Supposedly helped in the murder because he was angry at Kent for raping his girlfriend. Struck the first blow on Kent. Murder occurred on his 18th birthday.
     

  • Derek Leon Kaufman - May 8, 1973 - Self-proclaimed mafia hitman who the group enlisted to plan Kent's murder. Had no association to any of the other conspirators prior to this. Was actually the leader of a gang of youths 7-10 years younger than he was, who committed petty crimes such as theft.
     

  • Derek George Dzvirko - November 2, 1973 - Connelly's cousin who was enlisted for extra help by Connelly. Played a minor role in the murder, borrowed one of the baseball bats used to kill Kent from a friend. Along with Swallers, 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 for attempting to lie on the witness stand.
     

  • Heather June Swallers - May 24, 1975 - Previous friend of Slay who had just gotten out of drug rehab. The member of the group deemed by the State of Florida to be the least culpable for Kent's murder. Had no participation in the murder itself and ran and hid in Slay's car once it started. Cut 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 Slay

    second-degree murder and conspiracy (40 years imprisonment, which was commuted on appeal to 17 years in prison. 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) He is incarcerated at Columbia Annex DC number 963020
     

  5. 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
     

  6. 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).
     

  7. Martin Puccio

    first-degree murder and conspiracy. 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) 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.

Wikipedia.org



Marty Puccio on Trial in Broward County, with no particular expression of remorse.
(Courtesy of The Miami Herald)

 

Bobby Kent

 

 

 
 
 
 
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