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PREVIOUS COVERAGE | Prosecutor: Tape shows Davis planned to kill others

BRADENTON — A man set to go on trial in the slayings of two family members had plans to torture and possibly kill three other people, according to a prosecutor in court Wednesday during a pretrial hearing.

Clifford A. Davis, 23, has been incarcerated since he was arrested Dec. 5, 2005, after he allegedly killed his mother, 43-year-old Stephanie Ann Davis, had sex with her dead body and then killed his grandfather, 77-year-old Joel C. Hill, according to court documents.

Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty in the case. Davis faces charges of first-degree murder, sexual abuse of a dead body and robbery.

Prosecutor Art Brown referenced a five- to seven-minute tape Davis made Dec. 1, 2005, in which he spoke about his plans to kill Davis and Hill.

Brown also said Davis spoke on the tape about a plan to kill three others, including the torture and possible slaying of one man, and the raping and killing of two other women.

The tape was not played during Wednesday’s hearing.

Brown said the tape was “rare evidence” and “quite unusual” for a murder case.

Assistant Public Defender Carolyn Schlemmer, who is representing Davis, initially made a motion asking for the second part of the tape to be thrown out since the details are not germane to the murder charges.

“I don’t see how it’s relevant,” she said. “It has nothing to do with the deaths of Stephanie Davis or Joel Hill.”

Brown argued the tape should be presented in its entirety because Davis’ motive in killing his grandfather was to take his guns to potentially commit the other crimes.

The motion was one of approximately 25 that Judge Gilbert Smith heard and reserved judgment on over a three-hour period Wednesday at Manatee County Judicial Center.

Jury selection is expected to begin next week. The trial is expected to last about two weeks. With media coverage of the case spanning several years, questionnaires have been mailed to potential jurors asking them about their knowledge of case. During selection, jurors also will be screened about their viewpoints on the death penalty. Schlemmer initially requested to interview jurors about their feelings on defendants claiming insanity.

The trial had been stalled after a local judge ruled to throw out part of a confession Davis made to police after he asked for an attorney. The state appealed and the Florida Second District Court of Appeals upheld the decision.

During the trial, it’s likely Davis will be restrained using an electronic device strapped to his thigh.

Jurors won’t be able to see the device during the trial, but Schlemmer voiced concerns because most people charged with murder aren’t restrained during their trials, she said.

“My rule is he will be restrained either by soft shackles or device,” Smith said.

A bailiff would have control of the device with a remote control during the trial. If Davis needed to be restrained, the remote would send a 50,000-volt charge lasting eight seconds, according to authorities.

Davis, 19 at the time of the alleged crimes, had a prior criminal record of misdemeanor assault as a juvenile.

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