BRADENTON — Without hesitation, Clifford Davis told a judge in court Thursday that he indeed killed his mother and grandfather in his mother’s apartment in 2005.
The admission came when Circuit Judge Gilbert Smith asked Davis if he agreed with an opening statement made by his attorney telling jurors he caused the death of his mother Stephanie Davis and grandfather Joel Hill. Davis in on trial on two counts of first-degree murder.
On Wednesday, Assistant Public Defender Carolyn Schlemmer told the jury that her client caused the victim’s deaths, but asked for him to be found not guilty by reason of insanity. Davis faces the death penalty, if convicted.
As part of routine procedure, Smith asked Davis out of the presence of the jury if he knew Schlemmer was going to make such a concession.
Davis said he did.
“I refused to insult the intelligence of the court and the jurors,” Davis said of his decision to make the admission.
Prior to Davis’ admission to Smith, Davis’ grandmother, Nancy Hill, recalled to jurors finding her husband dead in the Wares Creek apartment Davis shared with his mother.
Hill said she first went to her daughter’s apartment after she came home from work on Dec. 4, 2005, to find an unlit and empty house, with no sign of her husband. She left after seeing her daughter’s vehicle in the parking lot of the apartment complex, believing she was asleep.
With still no sign of her husband, the next morning Hill again went to her daughter’s apartment, and entered with a key after no one answered her knock. Hill said she slowly walked down a tight hallway in the apartment and into the kitchen. There she found her husband’s lifeless body.
Hill said she stood frozen over the dead body of her husband, Joel.
The 77-year-old had duct tape around his ankles, and had been beaten, stabbed and strangled, a medical examiner earlier testified.
In shock, Hill said she went no further because she had the terrible feeling she had not only lost her husband, but also her daughter. Her grandson, Clifford Davis, was nowhere to be seen, she testified.
“I walked into the kitchen, got past the sink and saw Joel lying there,” she said. “As I was looking at Joel’s dead body I knew that Stephanie was dead in the bedroom.”
The horror of the dis- covery led her to leave the apartment, and outside she flagged down help from a bystander, setting off an investigation into a double slaying that shocked the community.
Police detectives testified to finding Hill slain in the kitchen of the apartment with duct tape around his ankles, and Stephanie Davis killed on the floor in her bedroom. Both had been strangled, medical examiner Dr. Wilson Broussard told jurors.
Crime scene technicians were able to lift a fingerprint off the duct tape found on Hill’s ankles, Detective Rich Konieczka testified. A Manatee County Sheriff’s Office fingerprint examiner then testified the print matched Davis.
Detectives also found semen on the carpet in Stephanie Davis’ room, according to testimony. It was tested and Brown is expected to have experts testify that it also matches Davis.
In addition to two counts of murder, Davis also faces charges of abuse of a dead body and robbery in the killings.
Brown is expected to present evidence that Davis sexually assaulted his mother’s dead body after he killed her.