Indiana parents return to court to see man once charged in son’s death

On Thursday afternoon, Shelly and Bill Lutes sat in the Palm Beach County Courthouse, listened to a familiar verdict — and almost had to laugh.

Jayvon Avery, the Lake Park man once charged with killing their son, was found not guilty on burglary charges, although a jury found him guilty on the lesser charge of trespassing.

The Lutes had left their Terre Haute, Indiana, home Wednesday afternoon, drove 16 hours straight and made it to West Palm Beach in time for court Thursday morning. If Avery — who the Lutes believe fatally shot their son 24-year-old Kyle in January 2014 — was going to be convicted of something, anything, the Lutes were going be there.

MORE ONLINE: Who was Kyle Lutes and what led to his death?

The trespassing conviction Thursday was a small, albeit painful, victory for the Lutes, who need some sort of closure. No, they don’t have any connection to the other crimes the 23-year-old Avery is facing, but any guilty verdict chips away at the time behind bars they wish he’d been given for their son’s death.

They think of it like an installment plan.

The Lutes have driven about 1,100 miles to Florida at least six times in the two years since their oldest son was found shot to death in Palm Beach Gardens and his bullet-riddled Ford Five Hundred in Avery’s care. Kyle had come to Palm Beach County for drug treatment — his dad Bill called it “relocation treatment” — after picking up some drug- and alcohol-related charges in Indiana. Kyle was in Florida about four months before his body was found on Valencia Gardens Avenue, just north of The Gardens Mall.

Each time the Lutes travel to Florida, it’s almost always to see Avery, or his younger sister Star, in court. Star told investigators in February 2014 her brother admitted to killing Kyle, but three months later she recanted her statement, causing the first-degree murder charge against Avery to be dropped. Star was sentenced to five years in prison for perjury.

As for Avery, a verdict either way Thursday wouldn’t have gotten him out of the Palm Beach County Jail any time soon. He’s being held there on charges in two unrelated cases, court records show. One is another burglary case, the other for allegedly having a concealed — and stolen — gun, according to those records. Those cases are slated to go before a judge later this year.

The Lutes will be watching to see when.

They worry about what they’ll do when they don’t have opportunities to see Avery in court, whether that’s because he’s in prison or set free. They cling to Avery and the court system they’ve become disillusioned with because they feel they owe it to their oldest son.

So they’ll continue to do the dance: driving to West Palm, attending Avery’s court appearances and looking the man they believe killed their son in the eyes.

“We feel like it’s the last thing we can do for Kyle,” Shelly Lutes said.

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