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The Errol Shooting - Part Four


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 Four: The Errol Shooting - Self defense or a pre-meditated attack?

The exact events that transpired on November 5th at 1050 Villa Lane are clouded in mystery. There were no witnesses. What is known is that between the hours of 6 and 8pm, Sean Davis arrived at the condominium that he shared with Paul Neff. And sometime between 6:30 and 8:30 pm he was shot to death by Paul Neff.

According to the JHIT transcript, Neff says he was sleeping at about 8pm when Davis entered his bedroom violently, threatening to kill him. Neff kept a gun next to his bed and reached for it before Davis could get it. Neff said he feared for his life and shot Davis – killing him.

But at approximately 6:30pm, back-to-back 911 calls came from Davis’ cell phone to the Apopka Police Department (APD). The dispatcher asked Davis if he needed police, fire or medical. Davis responded, “I don’t require either, I’m the guy that just got off the phone with the other operator about thirty five seconds ago… this is still my phone pocket-dialing. I don’t understand why it’s doing it.”

JHIT noted that Davis stated it was an accidental pocket dial, yet he was immediately speaking when the phone was answered at the APD. Davis also told the 911 operator that he was in his bathroom.

At approximately 8:30 pm (two hours later), Neff called 911. He told the dispatcher that he shot his roommate who he said “violently tried to kill me.”

According to the JHIT transcript, Neff stated, “I just shot him. He came in violent; I was in bed sleeping.”

When the dispatcher asked whom he shot, Neff stated, “Supposedly my roommate who came in violently, trying to kill me.” When the dispatcher asked why he shot Davis, Neff said, “Because he was attacking me.”

20160206_085858A short time later, APD officers entered the residence. They located a male, later identified as Davis, in the master bedroom. Shortly after, the Apopka Fire Department arrived on scene to assess Davis. Paramedics performed the assessment, and based on obvious signs of death, no life-saving procedures were taken and Davis was pronounced dead.

In the master bathroom, detectives from the Joint Homicide Investigation Team (JHIT) observed red colored stains on the door leading from the master bedroom into the bathroom. There also appeared to be red colored stains on the bathroom floor and in the sink. The shower appeared to have been freshly used (it was wet).

The JHIT detectives came into contact with Richard and Sandra Tracy, who lived in one of the four condominiums, connected under one roof. Richard Tracy stated he heard a “scuffle” coming from what he believed was 1050 Villa Lane. Richard Tracy reported hearing what sounded like “someone throwing a chair against the wall.”

Sandra Tracy stated she heard sounds like “somebody having a fight.” Sandra Tracy then reported hearing a “scuffle” coming from “next door.” Neither Richard Tracy nor Sandra Tracy went to investigate the noise or went outside to hear and/or see more.

At 12:30 AM on November 6th, Neff was interviewed by detectives. This was the first of two interviews within a few hours. In the transcript, Neff explains what happened according to him.

“I was in bed - went to bed early from a long day at work,” he told detectives. “Sean came barging in there, absolute lunatic. Telling me he was going to kill me, going to kill me. I sleep with that weapon on my side shelf there. This - this has happened in the past. He 's been physical with me in - in the past, and has got arrested for it. Back in Thunderbolt, Georgia, before we moved here. So, at this point he was so - and I 'm half asleep, getting out of the bed - it looked like he was going to go around for the weapon. I think I got there right before him. Rolled across the bed to the left side, and then he - he said, "I'm going to kill you. I 'm going to kill you. " He leaned a little bit, and I shot him. Happened in like a minute and a half. That’s how quick.”

Neff continued after a brief pause.

“My thought he was going to try to go for my weapon, because I sleep - leave it on that nightstand.” Neff then stated, “So, I ’m thinking he 's going to try to go for - the weapon is right there. So, I go for it for - get the weapon. Crawl off the bed and now the bed is in between us, and he 's - he 's just still going at it. He was starting to lunge to me. That's when I shot him.”

According to the detectives, Neff then changes his story.

“He’s - he looks like he's going to lunge at me. I - I took it that he 's going to lunge at me and I shot him in self-defense.”

The detective asked Neff at what point did he think you had to pull the trigger.

“It happened so fast and - and being - getting out of bed like that and seeing him in that state, I don't even know if I really even thought,” Neff said.

At about 5:30 am that same morning, detectives interviewed Neff again.

Detectives asked Neff about the red stain (believed to be blood) in the master bathroom. Neff stated he did not touch Davis and did not know how blood could have found its way into his bathroom.

Detectives asked Neff about a possible time delay in calling 911. Neff at first stated he called 911 immediately, but then said he “was in shock a bit” and could have waited three to five minutes before he called the APD. According to Neff, he was, “pacing” and “walking around” While he was coming “to the realization of what I done.” Neff said he smoked a cigarette and looked at the decedent during this five-minute period of time.

Tomorrow - The State's case against Paul Neff


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


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