Man charged in wife's death, kidnapping

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It's Levy County’s first homicide case in 2009

By The Staff

In October, Felicia Ann "Red" Fine, 22, and Charles Edwin Duke, 23, picked up a marriage license.  They had been in an off and on relationship for several years.


They returned from their honeymoon on Nov. 3 and Fine, who worked as a front desk clerk at Island House in Cedar Key, went to work the next day. Duke did not go to work..

When she came home,  the couple argued about money, alcohol and an unpaid credit card bill at their home near Southwest 95th Avenue.

It ended when he shot her twice, according to the Levy County Sheriff's arrest report. She is the county's first homicide case since January 2007.

Duke told investigators he was tired of her constantly complaining at him and he tried to please her but he could not do anything to make her happy. He said he snapped.

As she sat in front of the television looking through their DVD collection, he picked up their roommate Justin White's .45 caliber handgun, pointed it at her as she sat facing away from him, and  shot her, according to the arrest report.

He shot her a second time. “Duke said he approached her after firing the second shot. He said it was obvious  she was gone. He said he flattened her body on the floor, lay down beside her and told her he was sorry and he loved her,” according to the report by Investigator Surata Narayan.

Duke then took their roommate hostage for more than six hours in a standoff with deputies and Florida Wildlife Commission officers, according to a Levy County Sheriff's Office press release.

On Monday,  she was buried at Cedar Key Cemetery in Cedar Key under an overcast sky created by the rain bands spreading from Hurricane Ida.

Fine was the front desk clerk at Island Place in Cedar Key and loved animals, taking pictures and mud bogging, according to her obituary.

    Duke — charged with second degree murder and armed kidnapping — is in Levy County Jail under a $2 million bond.

    The case began when Crystal Fine, a relative of the victim,  called the Sheriff's Office at 8:37 p.m. Wednesday to report Justin White sent her a text message saying Felicia Fine was dead.

    She could not provide White's location, but deputies learned that White's family had property near Carter's Corner, the intersection of County Road 345 and County Road 347.

    During a search of the area, a man called the Sheriff's Office, said he had killed his wife and told them where they could find her body.

    Duke said he was holding Justin White hostage at gun point and gave his location as an area off Northeast 128th Lane and County Road 337 — a popular site for mud bogging.

    Duke also said he would not be taken alive, according to the Sheriff's Office press release.

    Deputies and Florida Wildlife Commission officers went to the location and they were joined by Sheriff Johnny Smith, who along with Capt. Scott Anderson, talked to Duke for over six hours trying to negotiate White's release and Duke's surrender.

    "It was a combination of things that I said to him, from me spending hours talking with him, explaining to him that its not the end of the world, sure there's going to be consequences to pay," Smith said. "I told him he needed to be rational about this and simply needed to let go of the guy that was with him."

    Smith said it wasn't really a negotiation.  “It really was a lot of conversation. I just told him there's really been enough hurt and your family loves you. I told him numerous times 'You need to let Justin go' and he said as soon as I see my dad,” Smith said.

    Duke, who was parked in a truck in the middle of the wetlands area, told the sheriff that if officers attempted to approach him he would kill White and the officers.  Smith said Duke chose his location well in a dry spot where he could see anyone coming at him. “It was a cleared area. A place where some of the youngsters go. “It was dry, it was sandy and where he parked his vehicle he was able to see a good distance. The moon was out that night, it was pretty clear,” Smith said.

    Smith said Duke admitted killing his wife during their conversations. “After talking to him briefly about the case — and you have to understand these were spontaneous responses by him — he said it's just an accumulation of things led up to this blank tonight,” Smith said. The sheriff said Duke made the comments without being read his rights, but stressed Duke make the admissions spontaneously.

    “He seemed to be remorseful and expressed a degree of regret,” Smith said. 'He said she was a good woman. He didn't go into detail much after he said he shot her, and it was a spontaneous statement, he said she was a good woman.”

    Smith said the recordings of Duke's conversations with law enforcement are being forwarded to the State Attorney's Office for use in their investigation and prosecution.

    During the talks, Duke finally agreed to release White if he could talk to his father.  His father was located in Archer and brought to the site, as talks continued with Duke. "I told him numerous times you need to let Justin go and he said as soon as I see my dad. And when we got his dad there and it took some time, I said I got your dad and I want you to keep your end of the deal up and he did."

The sheriff said it was at times tense.

    “There towards the end I could tell Charlie (Duke) was getting aggravated and Justin was on the ground,” Smith said. “ He (White) wanted to know how long it was going to be before we could get him out of there.”

    Duke finally released White. “As soon as I was able to secure Justin's release it was just a sense of relief.”

    But it would be an hour and a half before he turned himself in to Smith, who handcuffed Duke as Justin White watched from a seat inside Smith's truck.

    “Time was on our side,” Smith said. “Once I had Justin (in the truck) I knew I had all the time in the world.”

    After Duke was allowed to speak to his father — really to holler back and forth, Smith said because the father would not go near the son, the younger Duke surrendered.

    Prior to that there were tense moments. “And there was a lot of talk. He led me to believe he was going to inflict harm upon himself,” Smith said.

    “He was probably 40 feet in front of me walking back and forth with the gun in his hand,” Smith said. “I felt I had a good rapport and convinced him to turn himself in.

    “He asked what will happen to me if I turn myself in and I said I cannot answer that, and the entire case will have to be reviewed.

    “Finally went over to the log that was 30 to 40 feet in front of my truck and he said he was going to lay the gun down and I'm going to walk up and he did and I asked him to put his hands on my truck and I handcuffed him.”

    Duke is charged with 2nd degree murder and kidnapping.

    The hostage situation comes one month after the Sheriff's Office disbanded its SWAT team due to budget cuts. The team had 10 specially trained and armed officers. The deputies were paid a $600 annual supplement for the extra qualification and duty. Smith told the Levy County Commission that the 5 percent budget cuts it imposed was forcing him to disband the unit.

    Recently an officer attended training for an active response program that trains and provides equipment that allows them to respond more actively to such situations, although it is not at the same level as a SWAT team, according to one officer.