BRADENTON — Looking to spare Clifford Davis the death penalty, defense attorneys are expected today to begin mounting an insanity defense to murder charges.
Davis, 23, has acknowledged in court that he killed his mother, Stephanie Davis, and grandfather, Joel Hill, but his attorney, Assistant Public Defender Carolyn Schlemmer, told jurors during an opening statement that her client was insane when he did it.
Schlemmer is expected to present witnesses who will testify that Davis lived an isolated life, delving for as many as 18-hours-a-day into violent video games.
Testimony is also expected showing jurors that Davis in the past has been diagnosed with depression and personality disorders. A doctor will also present a brain scan that shows Davis to have an abnormal brain, Schlemmer told the jury.
The state rested Friday after presenting evidence that Davis planned the attack on his family members, which included sexually assaulting his mother’s dead body after he killed her, according to Assistant State Attorney Art Brown.
In addition to two counts of first-degree murder, Davis faces charges of abuse of a dead body and robbery.
On Friday, Brown played an audio recording Davis made in which he spoke of the killings prior to the attack.
“Today is Thursday, Dec. 1, 2005,” Davis said on the tape.
“On Sunday, Dec. 4, 2005, I plan to kill at least two people and rape at least two people.”
Davis then said on the tape that he planned to kill his mother and have sex with her dead body, then walk to his grandparents’ home nearby, kill his grandfather, steal two guns from him and then take his truck.
After the slayings, Davis said he planned to buy a new outfit to die in.
The trial is expected to wrap up this week, but if jurors should find Davis guilty, a weeklong death penalty phase would begin.
Jurors would then make a recommendation to Circuit Judge Gilbert Smith on whether Davis should be sent to death row. Smith does not have to accept a recommendation of death, but the law orders him to give the jury’s recommendation great weight.
Should jurors find Davis not guilty by reason of insanity, Smith would then decide Davis’ fate, which could include a lifetime commitment to a mental hospital.