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MCSO: Army veteran arrested in connection to mother’s Port Salerno homicide

NewsMCSO: Army veteran arrested in connection to mother's Port Salerno homicide

MARTIN COUNTY — After a woman was discovered dead in her home in Port Salerno Saturday, sheriff’s deputies arrested her son, charging him with murder, said sheriff’s Sgt. Dan DuLac.

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Darren Keith Pouncey, 34, initially was arrested on a pretrial release violation and Tuesday faced a charge of second-degree murder in connection to the case. Second-degree indicates the killing was not pre-meditated.

Investigators said they believe Pouncey, a veteran of the U.S. Army, killed his mother Christina Ruth Diorio, 58, in their home some time between Friday night and Saturday morning.

Diorio and Pouncey lived together at the home on the 5400 block of Railway Avenue, DuLac said.

The sergeant recounted Tuesday what detectives said happened:

Deputies responded to the home after a neighbor found Diorio unresponsive inside Saturday morning.

The neighbor entered the home with a spare key after receiving a text the previous night that said ‘I need your help,’ according to the sergeant. The neighbor called law enforcement after finding Diorio face up on the carpeted floor with a blanket covering her and seeing Pouncey exiting the master bedroom with swollen, bloody hands.

Deputies found Diorio dead and saw Pouncey exit the home with blood on his hands, sheriff’s records show.

The medical examiner determined Diorio died of blunt force trauma, sheriff’s officials said. Investigators believe Pouncey used his hands to kill her, DuLac said.

The mother and son lived together at two different residences for about four years, DuLac said, and family of the two told investigators they knew Diorio was concerned for her safety while living with Pouncey for at least a year.

“The family said that they had calls from the mother in the past where she was concerned about her safety with the son being in the home,” DuLac said. “The son had expressed his dislike of being with the mother, so there was some history from the family about concerns of the son being at home with the mother.”

DuLac said Pouncey faced prior DUI and burglary charges, but did not elaborate on details of the cases.

DuLac said Pouncey had been diagnosed with PTSD and had been taken into custody under the Baker Act in the past, he said.

The Florida Mental Health Act, better known as the Baker Act, permits people with mental illness to be held, voluntarily or involuntarily, in a mental health facility for up to 72 hours if the person is deemed to be a threat to themselves or others. 

Pouncey was taken into custody at Martin County Jail without bond, records show. He is on suicide watch, DuLac said.

Sheriff’s officials said the homicide was the 12th of 2022 in the county.

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