Boatman to face charge of killing cellmate

Leo Boatman was convicted of killing two Santa Fe students in Ocala National Forest in 2006


Published: Friday, January 21, 2011 at 10:35 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 21, 2011 at 10:35 p.m.

OCALA — Authorities plan to charge Leo Boatman with the beating death of his former cellmate at Charlotte Correctional Institution, the Charlotte County State Attorney's Office confirmed Friday.

Boatman, 24, is currently serving two life sentences for fatally shooting Santa Fe College students Amber Peck and John Parker with an AK-47 in Ocala National Forest in January 2006.

He was sentenced in Marion County after pleading guilty to his charges.

The Largo native had been housed at the Charlotte C.I., located in Punta Gorda, with Rick A. Morris, a 28-year-old Panama City man who also was serving a life sentence for the murder of his parents.

Last September, the Florida Department of Corrections disclosed that Boatman had been in an altercation with Morris on Aug. 18, 2010.

According to Morris' aunt, Cindy Morris, the victim had been on life support for a month after suffering severe brain damage.

"I don't even understand how these two people got into the cell together," Morris said to the Star-Banner Friday. "They both got mental illness."

Rick Morris is now buried beside his parents.

Boatman, who was born in a Florida mental institution, was transferred to Florida State Prison in Starke after the incident.

He is scheduled to be brought to Charlotte County on Feb. 14 for his first appearance hearing. That is also the date he will be served with a warrant, said Samantha Syoen, public information officer for the Charlotte County State Attorney's Office. He is expected to be charged with second-degree murder.

Syoen said Florida DOC officials had presented the warrant to the State Attorney's Office on Jan. 7.

"Since [Boatman] is already in prison for life, he will have to be transported here for his first appearance," she said Friday.

Florida DOC spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger said Friday an administrative investigation into the fatal beating is still in progress by prison officials.

Cindy Morris questioned the decisions that had been made leading to her nephew's release from a six-month stay in a mental institution.

It was following his return home that he fatally shot her brother and sister-in-law.

"Who even evaluated him to go to prison? He should have been in a mental institution all his life," Morris said Friday. "He would either kill somebody, or somebody would kill him."

Contact Suevon Lee at 867-4065 or suevon.lee@starbanner.com.

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