UPDATED 12.12.12 6pm by Julie Montanaro
It took a jury just 35 minutes to reach a verdict in a Tallahassee murder trial.
That verdict was guilty. Orin Battles is now headed to prison for the rest of his life.
"Orin Battles is guilty of first degree murder," Judge James Hankinson read the verdict aloud.
That guilty verdict came after just 35 minutes of jury deliberation.
Amanda Evans' sister - who was the first to report her missing - broke down in tears afterward.
"I felt relieved. I felt like my sister's body and mind is now truly free, you know. She ... it felt like she was like, right there with me to hear that justice has finally got served for her," Easter Evans said.
Battles was Amanda Evans' longtime boyfriend. He has now been convicted of killing her and dumping her body in the Ochlocknee River in January 2011.
Evans was stabbed 24 times, shot six times and beaten.
Within minutes of the guilty verdict Battles was sentenced to life in prison.
"It's been very difficult," Easter Evans said. "He was also a family member to us, so to have him to do something so vile, was painful as well. To sit there and watch him and always constantly wonder, you know, why you didn't love us enough not to do this," Evans said.
"I would really like to know why. Why did he do that? You know, we all came up together, you know, and there's no one else but me now," said Battles' brother Sammy Battles.
The only son left because two of his brothers are now serving life sentences in prison for killing women they claimed to love.
Johnny Lee Battles, is serving a life sentence for killing his estranged wife Martha Battles in 2006. Her body was found further downstream in the same river.
Tallahassee, FL - December 12, 2012 -11:40 am by Julie Montanaro
The jury found Orin Battles guilty of first degree murder.
Amanda Evans' sister Easter told the judge "I believe my sister can now be at peace."
The judge sentenced Battles to life in prison.
Tallahassee, FL - December 12, 2012 - 11:15 am by Julie Montanaro
The jury has reached a verdict in the murder trial of Orin Battles after just 35 minutes of deliberation.
We are waiting for that verdict to be announced in court.
Tallahassee, FL - December 12, 2012 - 10:45 am by Julie Montanaro
The jury is now deliberating in the murder trial of Orin Battles.
Tallahassee, FL - December 12, 2012 - 10:35 am by Julie Montanaro
Prosecutor Georgia Cappleman banged her pen on a podium 24 times to simulate the amount of time it may have taken Orin Battles to stab Amanda Evans.
Evans family cried as she did so. Battles kept shaking his head no.
Cappleman told the jury that Battles DNA is all over the crime scene near a canal on Lake Bradford Road.
She also pointed out Battles repeatedly denied being at the Fast Pay Day loan store with Evans until police showed him the surveillance video with him on it.
Cappleman says Battles talked to himself when officers left the interview room. "They ain't got nothing. Ain't gonna prove I done that."
'Does that sound like an innocent man?', asked Cappleman.
Tallahassee, FL - December 12, 2012 - 9:55 am by Julie Montanaro
Defense attorney Clyde Taylor says Orin Battles isn't the only one with motive to kill Amanda Evans.
He pointed out Evans' sister admitted Evans was dating another man at the time of her murder. Could he have been angry that she was still seeing Battles?
Taylor says there are no witnesses that placed Battles with Evans after the two of them went to a pay day loan store on January 29, 2011.
The defense attorney also reminded the jury that DNA found on Battles pocket knife at a canal off Lake Bradford Road did not have sufficient markers to send to a national data base.
Taylor says even if it was Battles blood on that knife, so what. He uses that knife to filet fish, Taylor said.
Tallahassee, FL - December 12, 2012 - 9:38 am by Julie Montanaro
Orin Battles chose not to testify and the defense rested its case without calling any witnesses.
The judge is now reading instructions to the jury and closing arguments will begin shortly.
UPDATED 12.11.2012 by Julie Montanaro
Shocking details in a Tallahassee murder trial today as prosecutors revealed Amanda Evans was stabbed, shot and beaten to death.
Her long time boyfriend - Orin Battles - is accused of killing her and is now facing a judge and jury.
Orin Battles is accused of killing his longtime girlfriend Amanda Evans and dumping her body in the Ochlocknee River.
On opening day of Battles' trial, prosecutors revealed Evans died a horrible death.
"She was stabbed about the face and head 24 times at least. She was shot six times and she was beaten," prosecutor Georgia Cappleman told the jury.
Evans disappeared January 29th, 2011. She was last seen at the Fast Pay Day Loan shop on South Monroe Street in Tallahassee. Surveillance video shows Battles outside wiping down the door handles of her car with a white cloth.
Mary Jane McMahon works there and handled Evans' loan that night. She may have been one of the last people to see Evans alive. She says Evans was not her usual talkative self.
"It was like she really didn't want to say too much or anything. She didn't really have too much to say," McMahon said.
"Okay. How much money did she get that day?"
Evans' sister testified Battles called her early the next morning.
"What did Mr. Battles say?"
"Your sister's missing. Have you seen her?" Easter Evans said.
"He told you your sister was missing?"
"And did you have any reason to think your sister was missing until he told you?"
"No," Easter Evans said.
A woman fishing at a canal off Lake Bradford Road found a knife, a bloody washcloth and two pools of blood that same day.
Prosecutors contend the blood was Amanda's and her DNA was found on both the knife and the washcloth.
Battles DNA, prosecutors said, was found on the knife and a condom at the scene.
Yet defense attorneys told the jury those DNA matches are sketchy.
"It was so slight and so light and so minor as it refers to this defendant that it could not even be sent off for CODIS evaluation because it does not meet minimum standards," defense attorney Clyde Taylor said. "One of the pieces of evidence that involves alleged DNA that the state is going to say came from Mr. Battles could come from - you'll hear from the state's own witnesses - one in every 11 African males in the world."
The state rested its case late this afternoon. The defense will begin in the morning.
Prosecutors initially planned to seek the death penalty in this case, but agreed not to late last week.
UPDATED 12.11.2012 5:50pm by Julie Montanaro
The state has rested its case against Orin Battles. The defense will begin in the morning.
Tallahassee, FL - December 11, 2012 - 10am by Julie Montanaro
Amanda Evans' sister is on the stand. Easter Evans testified she got a call from Orin Battles at about 6am on January 30th. She testified Battles told her "Your sister is missing."
She said it was very unusual for her to get a call from Battles especially at that hour.
Easter Evans testified that her sister did not show up to pick her mother up for church that morning and she called the police to report her missing.
Easter Evans testified that the pocket knife found off Lake Bradford Road was a birthday present from his sister to Orin Battles.
December 11, 2012 by Julie Montanaro
Tallahassee, FL - Orin Battles is now on trial for the murder of his long time girlfriend Amanda Evans.
Prosecutors revealed that Evans was stabbed at least 24 times, shot six times and beaten.
A woman fishing in a canal off Lake Bradford Road found a knife, a bloody cloth and a condom, assistant state attorney Georgia Cappleman told the jury. Cappleman said lab results showed Orin Battles DNA is on the knife and on the condom. Amanda Evans DNA, she said, was on the knife, condom and bloody cloth.
Defense attorney Clyde Taylor says there are no witnesses to this crime and he says the DNA in this case does not meet the standard for identification. Some of the DNA, Taylor said, could match one in 11 African men.
[UPDATE] May 9, 2011 - 6:00pm - Easter Evans says she bought a car for her mom and her sister, Amanda Evans. She did it so they could get around town. That same car has finally been found nearly three months after Amanda Evans was killed.
Easter says, "I believe it's going to now put a closure on my sister's disappearance."
Evans' body was found in the Ochlocknee River in Gadsden County on February 24th after being missing for almost a month. Tallahassee Police say Gadsden County deputies found her early to mid 1990s model burgundy Chrysler Concorde on Saturday night. Officers say it was found in the same river near the same area where Evans was found.
OFC Derek Friend, a Tallahassee Police Spokesperson, says "We will review it. So, there'll be a forensic analysis of the vehicle. Anything found in the vehicle to determine if there's any evidence that could be used in court."
Evan's boyfriend, Orin Battles, is indicted for Evans' murder. Easter Evans says a month before her sister went missing she confronted Amanda about their mother's police report that Battles had tampered with the Chrysler.
"I said well, did he say anything about the car. She said, yeah, he said he cut the brake line because he was upset with me and he didn't want me to be with nobody else," says Easter.
Easter says finding the car is another closing piece to the case.
"I hope that justice finally gets served on him and now my sister's soul is free."
Officers say the car was under water for some time so they have not had a chance to open it up and examine it for clues.
A trial date is not scheduled yet but there is a status hearing slated for May 17th.
[UPDATE] 4-20 2:00pm -
Orin Battles was indicted by a Leon County Grand Jury for killing his girlfriend and dumping her body in the Ochlocknee River. Amanda Evans was reported missing in January and her body was found by fishermen nearly a month later.
UPDATED 2.25.2011 7pm by Julie Montanaro
A missing person's case is now a murder after a body pulled from the Ochlocknee River turns out to be that of missing Tallahassee woman Amanda Evans.
Three hours after Amanda Evans's body was pulled from that river, her on again off again boyfriend Orin Battles was arrested and charged with her murder. And a woman fishing for brim may have provided the most critical clues of all.
The body spotted by fishermen on the Ochlocknee River Thursday is that of 43 year old Amanda Evans who went missing a month ago.
It turns out it was another fisherman who may have clinched this case when she went to drop a line in this creek off Lake Bradford Road the day after Evans disappeared.
"When I was getting ready to go down this way to fish and I just happened to look before I went down that way, but I saw that," Barbara Mylers said as she pointed to a spot in the grass.
"That" was a bloody cloth and a knife right on the side of a beaten path along the creek. Mylers called deputies right away.
"I felt like somebody might have gotten hurt- that's how I felt,," she said.
Arrest papers say the blood matched Evans's DNA and the touch DNA on the knife belonged to her on again off again boyfriend Orin Battles who is now charged with her murder.
Evans's family suspected Battles all along. She was last seen with Battles at a Fast Pay Day Loan shop on South Monroe Street the day she disappeared.
Employees there told police the woman wasn't acting herself that day and arrest papers say surveillance video showed him wiping down the door handles on her car while she was inside.
"What we were able to do was dispel the original story by Mr. Battles denying that he was there, denying that he was a part of this. Faced with the video evidence and now the DNA evidence it's difficult for anyone to believe otherwise,".said TPD Spokesman David McCranie.
Tallahassee Police are awaiting autopsy results to determine the exact cause of death and the approximate time.
Arrest papers say there was a condom found within five feet of the knife, but police are not commenting on whether that yielded any DNA or if Battles could face any additional sexual assault charges.
McCranie said the couple did have a history of violence. "Over the years there were different bouts of abuse reported by the family. So, it may have been some of that. He has a lengthy criminal history that includes criminal outbursts. At this point what suddenly sparked it, we don't know, but we do know there is a history between the two," he said.
Court records show Battles has more than a dozen arrests since 1995 including arrests for domestic violence and battery. We have requested court records, but right now we do not know if Evans was the victim in any of those cases.
UPDATED 2.25.2011 by Latasha Givens
Amanda Evans's family members say while they are heart broken to hear the news, they are somewhat relieved, because Evans had missing for several weeks and it was really taking a toll on the family.
"I didn't even want to think that she was dead. I didn't even want to think that. I didn't want that to cross my mind," said Evans's older sister Mary Mann.
43 year old Amanda Evans had been missing for more than a month before fisherman discovered her body floating in the Ochlocknee River in Havana Thursday afternoon.
She was last seen with her boyfriend Orin Battles at a Fast Payday Loan shop on South Monroe Street January 29th, the day she went missing.
"I knew my daughter had been dead since," Evans's mother Masalean Salters said.
Evans's mother says after the third week of her disappearance, she had a vision, showing her daughter was no longer on earth.
"She was laid on her face and she had been calling me mama help, mama help," Salters said.
"She loves to work. She loves her dog . She loves our mom that's why when my sister was missing we knew something was strange because she never forgets to call my mom," said younger sister Janie Evans.
The dive team searched for hours before recovering Evans's body.
Battles is behind bars charged with her murder. The family says the two had an on again, off again tumultuous relationship that started when Evans was 17.
Janie says the last time she saw her sister, it was a quick visit and she wishes it was different.
"If I knew it was the last time I would seen my sister I would have hugged her, but I didn't know, so."
Updated: 2/25 at 11:47 a.m.
Police say body found in Ochlockonee River yesterday is missing Tallahassee woman Amanda Evans. An arrest has been made.
On Sunday, January 30, 2011, the family of 43 year-old Amanda Evans contacted the Tallahassee Police Department to report her missing. Family members explained that Ms. Evans had not been seen or heard from since Saturday, January 29, 2011.
Investigators began searching for Ms. Evans and located surveillance video from a local business in the 2000 block of South Monroe Street. The video depicted Ms. Evans' vehicle and a man, later identified as 47 year-old Orin Battles. Ms. Evans had an ongoing relationship with Battles over the years. Investigators interviewed Battles on Monday, January 31. At the time, Battles denied any involvement in the disappearance of Ms. Evans.
On Sunday, January 30, the Leon County Sheriff's Office responded to the 2700 block of Lake Bradford Road in reference to a suspicious incident. A citizen had been fishing in a canal area and located blood and a knife. The items found were collected and sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for analysis. Meanwhile, investigators from the Tallahassee Police Department also sent samples of Ms. Evans' hair and Battles DNA to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Late yesterday, a human body was discovered in the Ochlocknee River near Highway 12 in Gadsden County. The body was in an advanced state of decomposition and was later positively identified as Amanda Evans. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement confirmed that DNA on the knife found on January 30 belonged to Battles and that the blood was that of Amanda Evans.
Battles was located at approximately 11:30PM last night and arrested without incident by the Tallahassee Police Department.
Orin Battles, B/M, 8/25/63 CHARGES: Homicide.
Click on the link below for the original story.
Updated: 2/7 at: 5:56 p.m. by Deneige Broom
Masalean Salters hasn't seen her daughter Amanda Evans since January 29th.
"She called me about 10 minutes later and said she'd be home in 15 minutes. That 15 minutes hasn't come yet," said Salters.
The 43-year-old was last seen at Fast Payday loans on South Monroe Street in Tallahassee and her family says Amanda's ex boyfriend Orin Battles was with her.
"She went in there to borrow money," said her sister Easter Evans. "They [store clerks] said no, she didn't look like herself. They saw them in the parking lot and the scene between them didn't look OK at all so that's what started this investigation."
Tallahassee police say they do suspect foul play in her disappearance but haven't named Battles or anyone else as a suspect.
Now her family sits and waits at her mother's home, hoping they get some news soon.
"It's like half of me isn't even here," said Salters. "I just feel numb like I'm not together."
"Now that she's not here, we miss her," said her older brother Willie Evans. "That's all I can say is we miss her. We hope they find her well. Find something. It's kind of hard to explain because there's nothing I can do other than pray."
Masalean's greatest fear is that a recent dream she had of Amanda, means she's gone for good
"She said 'Mama help! Mama help! Mama help! When I went to where she was supposed to be at, it was like she just disappeared in front of me."
TPD hasn't named a suspect or person of interest yet. Police also haven't said why they suspect foul play or why they think she could be in danger.
The family says Amanda would normally just go to work and come home to take care of her mother, and taking off isn't something they think she'd do.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Tallahassee Police Department at 891-4200
Amanda D. Evans, 43 years of age, black female. Last seen in the area of the 2000 block of South Monroe Street on Saturday, January 29, 2011 at approximately 5:30pm.
Investigators have reason to suspect foul play is involved in her disappearance. The investigation is ongoing and details cannot be provided at this time.
Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Amanda D. Evans is asked to contact the Tallahassee Police Department at (850)891-4200 or Crime Stoppers at (850) 574-TIPS (8477).