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The Errol Shooting: Part Five


Last week, the Orange/Osceola County Joint Homicide Investigation Team (JHIT) arrested Paul V. Neff in Winter Park for the murder of his roommate Sean Van Davis. The two men lived in the Errol Villas Condominiums when the shooting occurred. It was the latest step in an investigative process that began in early November. The Apopka Voice will tell this tragic, bizarre and violent story in a five part series entitled "The Errol Shooting". The series will explore the roots of the volatile three-year relationship between Neff and Davis... where they met, why they came to Apopka, what led to the shooting, and finally the evidence the JHIT team collected that contradicts Neff’s claim of self-defense and ultimately caused the State Attorney to charge Neff with first degree murder.

Part Five: The State's case against Paul Neff

There was no witness on November 5th when Paul Neff shot Sean Davis. No one was at the Villa Lane Condominium unit to refute Neff’s claim of self-defense.

For two months after the shooting, Neff lived his life while waiting for the investigation to conclude. He posted on Facebook. He moved from Apopka to Winter Park in January when the short-term lease on the Villas Condo ended.

It may have begun to seem like life was returning to normal, but the detectives of JHIT were slowly, methodically building a case against Neff’s claim of self defense.

While the case against Neff is comprehensive in scope, there was a specific point in the interview between detectives and Neff in the early morning hours of November 6th that seemed to indicate a shift in the likelihood that Neff’s claim of self-defense was valid. It was a point in the interview that seemed to shift from a formal question and answer format, to a conversation:

Detective: Okay. How was that threatening to your life? I 'm - I 'm just trying to understand that part. How was that threatening?

Neff: That's the way that I felt right at that moment in time. During the scenario.

Detective: By - by him swinging his arms

Neff: Yeah.

Detective: On the opposite side of a bed, you felt like your life was in danger?

Neff: I did

Detective: What past action? Because you told me the only time he's hit you twice in the past. And you didn't get medical treatment.

Neff: In my physical state, just getting out of bed from sleeping - being asleep.

Detective: Okay. Look - looking back at it, do you think that you would have changed anything?

Neff: I do. It all happened so fast.

Detective: Okay. But…

Neff: I sincerely do.

Detective: Okay. What would you have changed?

Neff: That's hard to answer that.

Detective: Well, try. Try. Because I 'd like to get an understanding.

Neff: Well, you know what I would change. Pulling the - shooting him.

Detective: Okay. Why?

Neff: Because It seemed like an absolute heat of the moment thing.

After this interview/conversation with Neff, JHIT performed a month-long investigation that took them to Jacksonville to interview Davis’ family and Middleburg to talk to Davis’ estranged wife. They reviewed phone, text and email records. By the time the investigation concluded, their findings showed an entirely different scenario than the one Neff described.

Here is part of the conclusion offered by the JHIT transcript: In the transcript Neff is referred to as “defendant” and Davis is referred to as “decedent”. It is written as an opinion of the JHIT detective and in the first person.

“There is no dispute that the defendant used deadly force against the decedent. On November 5, 2015, at an unknown time (due to the defendant not calling 911 immediately), the defendant used a firearm and fired a single gunshot at the decedent, causing death.

Deadly force is warranted when the imminent commission of a forcible felony is presented against the defendant or another. In this case, the decedent entered the bedroom and allegedly shouted that he was going to kill the defendant. The decedent was unarmed and only wearing a pair of shorts. The defendant did not see any weapons or any other items in his hands that could have caused death or great bodily harm.

The justifications for use of force do not apply where the evidence establishes that the defendant initially provoked violence against him- or herself. It is my belief the defendant initiated violence toward the decedent by telling him if he came to their shared home, the defendant would “kill” and “put six bullets” in the decedent. The defendant created an electronic footprint for days of threats toward the decedent. The defendant was obviously the aggressor in the relationship. There is no evidence that the decedent offered any violence back or threats.

The decedent did the opposite by offering to sleep on the back patio or in the vehicle and did his best to diffuse the situation.

The defendant has claimed the murder was justified. It is my belief that the circumstances by which the defendant shot and killed the decedent were not true danger (even by his own words).The danger facing the defendant was not actual danger and would NOT have led a reasonably cautious and prudent person under the same circumstances to have believed that the danger was real. Based on interviews with the defendant, it is not believable that the defendant believed he was in danger enough to arm himself with a firearm and shoot the decedent.

The defendant knew the reputation of the decedent. The decedent had been to prison in the past, but most of the reputation of the decedent that was relayed to the investigators in this case had been proven to be greatly exaggerated by the defendant.

It is my belief that the decedent’s reputation was not one of a particularly violent and dangerous person.

It is my belief, from the evidence in this case, that the defendant was not justified in the use of deadly force.

Paul Neff committed the murder of Sean Davis after substantial planning and premeditation of up to three days. Paul Neff told Sean Davis exactly how he was going to murder him via text messages in the days prior to his murder. Over the three day period, Paul Neff consistently told Sean Davis that he was to be murdered the next time he sees him. Paul Neff stated it was his life mission to end the life of Sean Davis; and on November 5, 2015, he completed that mission. The murder was committed in a cold, calculated, and premeditated manner without any pretense of moral or legal justification.”


Apopka Police Department, Joint Homicide Investigation Team, Paul Neff, Sean Davis


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