Witness says man tried to destroy homicide evidence by jumping in pool after shooting

Polk resident used bow and arrow in homicide
Posted at 3:13 PM, Oct 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-27 17:13:18-04

The Polk County Sheriff's Department has arrested a man in connection with a shooting death in Lake Wales. 

Homicide detectives arrested 63-year-old James "Jimbo" Pennington on numerous charges which include First-Degree Murder, Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon, and Violation of Probation.

The charges stem from the killing of 30-year-old Devyn Martin. Detectives believe Pennington killed Martin on October 26, 2017 after the two were embroiled in an argument. 

On October 26, 2017, deputies were responding to a reported shooting in Lake Wales. Deputies were allegedly unable to find the potential victim until a witness stepped forward and shared details of the shooting. 

The witness reportedly gave these details:

  • Pennington arrived home between 3:45 p.m. and 4 p.m. on October 26, 2017. 

  • Thirty minutes later, Martin showed up to Pennington's home in a red golf cart. 

  • Pennington demanded Martin leave his property and when Martin refused Pennington went into his home, grabbed a bow and arrow, returned, and shot the arrow toward Martin. 

  • Martin brandished a firearm toward Pennington, which is when Pennington went back into the home and returned outside with a firearm of his own. 

  • Pennington then approached Martin and shot him. 

According the report, Pennington told the witness he needed help with the body. The witness declined and called the police. 

When deputies arrived on scene, they found Martin with multiple gunshot wounds in his chest. An interview with Martin's girlfriend reportedly revealed information that Pennington was washing himself with a hose outside of his residence.

Another witness came forward and said Pennington came to her house and jumped in her pool, roughly 30 minutes after she heard the gunshot. When he went into her house to clean himself up, a small amount of blood was found in the bathroom. 

An affidavit from the Sheriff's Office says Pennington was brought in for an interview at the operation center. Pennington allegedly told investigators: that he told Martin to leave multiple times; that he shot at Martin with a bow and arrow and missed; and, that he wished he used a cannon to "blow up" the victim. 

Deputies charged Pennington with the following:

  • First Degree Murder

  • Tampering with Evidence involving the victim's body and firearm

  • Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon

  • Polk County Probation as he is on Active Probation for Felony Criminal Mischief

Pennington has a previous criminal history that includes seven misdemeanors and two previous felonies:

  • 07/29/2016 - PCSO - Battery, Probation Violation

  • 09/11/2014 - PCSO - Felony Criminal Mischief

  • 03/2/2005 - PCSO - Poss Cannabis, Poss Drug Paraphanalia 

  • 08/28/1999 - LWPD - Violation of Injunction for Protection

  • 10/20/1998 - PCSO - DUI

  • 04/25/1993 - Martin County SO - Probation Violation

  • 10/04/1992 - Martin County SO - Disorderly Intoxication

  • 09/09/1982 - Martin County SO - Trafficking Marijuana

The investigation is ongoing.