Judge denies transfer for teen accused of Buckingham murder

Published: Updated:
Lavaya May

FORT MYERS, Fla. A 17-year-old girl accused of second-degree murder will remain in Lee County Jail.

Judge Ramiro Manalich denied a request for a transfer made by attorneys for Lavaya May, who’s accused of recruiting two friends to help her kill 58-year-old Ted Lee of Buckingham in July 2016.

The attorneys asked that she be moved to a juvenile detention center or released from jail until she turns 18 in February. They argued that she’s forced to be in solitary confinement because she’s the only minor at the jail and, by law, can’t be housed with adult inmates.

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Manalich cited a lack of evidence that being held alone is having a negative effect on her.

Lee’s body was found outside a Manatee County church days before May, along with Hunter Michael Tyson, 25, of North Fort Myers, and Jonathan Raymond Ruffini, 19, of Fort Myers, were apprehended in Kansas.

They were extradited to Lee County Jail shortly thereafter, and May has remained there since.

Manalich put off the start of May’s trial in August of this year. He granted a motion from prosecutors who argued they weren’t prepared to continue after a key piece of evidence was disallowed.

State attorneys sought to use confessions they say May made in a journal she kept in jail, but her attorneys successfully argued the notebook wasn’t searched legally.

Lee molested May for nearly a decade, according to Kristianna Soto, one of her attorneys. May told a child protective investigator Lee had sex with her, touched her inappropriately and bought her alcohol while she was at his home, according to a Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office report.

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Tyson received 40 years in prison after pleading no contest to second-degree murder. Ruffini will be sentenced after pleading guilty to second-degree murder.


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