DeFuniak Springs man found guilty of murder in hatchet attack on 85-year-old woman
DeFUNIAK SPRINGS — A man who struck an 85-year-old woman in the head with a hatchet has been convicted of second-degree murder, according to a news release from the State Attorney's Office.
Following a two-day jury trial, Dylan Lee Mancill, 27, of DeFuniak Springs, was found guilty of both the murder charge and aggravated battery on a person 65 years of age or older with great bodily harm. The state is asking the court to sentence Mancill as a prison releasee reoffender, which would subject him to a maximum sentence of life in prison.
"I think the jury took the serious nature of the charge to heart and really weighed the evidence," said Walton County Chief Assistant State Attorney Josh Mitchell, who tried the case. "We were pleased with the verdict."
On Aug. 24, 2018, the victim, Geraldine Jones, was trying out a new electric wheelchair. Jones stopped at a neighbor's home to visit with the homeowner and view a chicken coop. During the visit, Mancill, the homeowner's son, began pacing behind Jones.
Mancill then picked up a hatchet near the chicken coop and struck Jones in the back of
the head. The reason for the attack is unknown.
Mancill then fled but was apprehended by the Walton County Sheriff’s Office a short time later. He was soaking wet and wearing only his underwear when he was taken into custody. His clothing was later located near a creek on the property.
Mitchell said the state of Mancill's mental health near the time he killed never came up during the trial. Mancill's family, however, provided the Northwest Florida Daily News with text messages and other documents that they believe were indicative of an unhealthy mental state.
"I done made it known if you not related to me u best get to getting the (expletive) on so lol everbody nervous," one text from Mancill, dated Aug. 20, 2018, said.
Walton County Fire Rescue and EMS, Liberty Volunteer Fire Department and Walton County Sheriff’s Office arrived on scene within minutes of the attack to perform first aid. Jones was rushed to a hospital where doctors performed emergency life saving measures.
Jones clung to life for before succumbing to her injury in May 2019.
The Medical Examiners’ Office for the First Judicial Circuit performed an autopsy and located fragments of Jones' skull embedded in her brain. The Medical Examiner's Office ultimately determined that the victim died as a result of the injuries from the attack.
Mancill, who was initially charged with attempted second-degree murder, had the charges against him upgraded after Jones passed away.
He is set to be sentenced by Circuit Judge Kelvin Wells on April 6.
The investigation and arrest was conducted by the Walton County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant State Attorney Josh Mitchell prosecuted the case.