Former Hammock resident Justin Boyles, who with accomplice Charles “Danny” Massey, tortured, murdered and burned Edward Scott Mullener in June 2013, was sentenced today (Jan. 29) to two life terms in prison without possibility of parole. Massey, who’d agreed to testify against Boyles, was previously sentenced to 20 years.
A St. Johns County jury had found Boyles guilty of second-degree murder and kidnapping at the end of a week-long trial on Dec. 14. Sentence was pronounced by Circuit Judge J. Michael Traynor in a St. Augustine courtroom this morning, causing Drew Mullener, brother of Edward, to pump his fist in satisfaction, according to the News-Journal’s Tony Holt.
Assistant State Attorney Chris Miller, of the State Attorney’s Homicide Unit, prosecuted the case, which closes one of the more gruesome murder cases in recent Flagler County history.
A love triangle was the two men’s central motive, according to the prosecution and arrest reports based on “exhaustive interviews with family, friends, acquaintances and neighbors” of the victim and the two assailants. “Those interviews,” the arrest reports state, revealed that Mullener was “in a ‘love triangle’ with Antoinette Heart and Justin Boyles.”
Boyles at the time was living with Massey and his girlfriend, Cheryl Leggett, at 6 Holly Road in the Hammock. Mullener lived nearby, at 70 Hernandez Avenue. Heart lived at 19 Sanchez Ave.
The evening of June 13, 2013, Mullener and Heart got into an argument. Mullener gave her a ride back to her house but would not leave, prompting Heart to call Boyles to complain. Boyles went over to Heart’s place and in short order started savaging Mullener. Heart saw Mullener “lying on the ground with blood all over his face and with [Boyles] standing over him.” Mullener, she said, was in a “semi-conscious state and was beat up ‘pretty bad’ and she was scared for him.”
Boyles then left only to return with Massey and Leggett. Boyles broke a beer bottle and mo ved as if to cut Mullener with it, saying he was “going to end this.” He burned a cigarette into Mullener’s neck, causing Mullener to cry out in pain. Heart’s entreaties to “stop fucking burning him” did not slow him down. He got angrier, and turned his anger at Heart, ordering her to kick Mullener. She says she refused. He told her she’d be next if she talked about any of it. She also heard Boyles and Massey talk about killing Mullener. The last time she saw him, about two hours after Boyles had started brutalizing him, was when she saw Massey take him to Mullener’s Cadillac and drive off, with Boyles following in his Jeep. Heart tried to destroy evidence, including a cell phone so calls could not be traced to her (or so she thought), leaves and towels.
Leggett claiming she saw Heart at one point holding Mullener down, but also freaking out from the violence around her and Mullener’s bloody state. At one point during the beatings Boyles had the women go get him beer at a convenience store, and she, too, heard Boyles threaten her and Heart that they would be next.
Early the next morning, at 5 a.m., a St. Johns County deputy found Mullener’s 1983 Cadillac Fleetwood, or what was left of it, smoldering after an intense fire on a logging road on St. Johns County’s portion of Flagler Estates, the isolated development at the northwest end of Flagler County. In the trunk, which was still burning, the deputy found “what appeared to be teeth and several bones, including what appeared to be hip bones,” the arrest reports state. Dental records tied the remains to Mullener, who, it is still not clear, may or may not have been dead by the time his assailants lit him on fire.
Investigators subsequently had an abundance of evidence, including DNA, tying Massey and Boyles to the murder, including evidence from other witnesses who saw them extremely drunk the day Mullener’s body was discovered, and looking to hide out. Massey even cracked jokes about needing his last meal before having to serve “25 to life,” as he put it.
Massey’s sentence proved less severe.