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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Man who killed three in poker game told deputies he had been cheated

Man who killed three in poker game told deputies he had been cheated

The man charged with shooting and killing three men at a private poker game in Palatka over the weekend believed he had been cheated during the contest, deputies reported.

Officers arrested Duane Demaris Crittenden II, 28, of Palatka, in Marion County Sunday morning on three charges of first-degree murder, the Putnam County Sheriff's Office reported.

The owner of a building at 108 Carver St. found the three men dead at the location, just outside the Palatka city limits, Saturday morning. Jerome Anthony Henry, 48, of Seville, and Richard David Smith and Robert Erwin Ford, both 50 and from Palatka, were killed inside the structure, a former bar that officers said people had been using as location for a “high-stakes” poker game.

All four men had been involved in the game, which started Friday afternoon and continued through the night, said Sheriff's Office spokesman Major Keith Riddick.

Crittenden had been in the game and lost, officers reported.

“We understand that he felt that they were cheating, and he went back apparently to confront them about that,” Riddick said.

The men were last seen alive between 8 a.m. and 8:45 a.m. Saturday, Riddick said. Investigators believe the confrontation occurred between 9 a.m. and 9:30 a.m.

All three victims were shot in the head and neck area, Riddick said. Henry and Smith were both shot once. Ford had been shot twice and stabbed.

Investigators are trying to determine what happened inside the building among the men. Riddick said the Sheriff's Office plans to try to reconstruct events inside the building.

Crittenden left with money taken from the game, according to deputies. Riddick said investigators don't know how much was taken. Estimates have been made between $2,000 and $9,000.

Crittenden was located in Marion County in the area of SW 22nd Place and South Pine Avenue after an all-night manhunt. Riddick said he did not know what ties Crittenden had to the area but he had previously listed Ocala as a home address.

Investigators have recovered some of the money taken from the poker game, Riddick said.

Officers have spoken with Crittenden, and Riddick said he is cooperating with the investigation to a certain degree.

Crittenden has a lengthy criminal history with 18 felony convictions in both Florida and Georgia, Riddick said. None of the charges were violent, however. Most involved "paper crimes" such as fraud and forgery, he said.

The three victims also had prior criminal histories although none had been arrested on significant charges in recent years, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Source: Gainesville Sun

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