BRADENTON — The judge considered a mistrial Tuesday in Clifford Davis’ murder trial, after a psychologist testified a neighbor “had been lucky” not to have also been killed by Davis.
The trial ground to a halt after the testimony, although Circuit Judge Gilbert Smith ultimately ruled it would continue.
Psychologist John Super had been called to testify by the prosecution, and was proceeding to tell jurors that he believed Davis was sane when he killed his mother and grandfather in 2005.
But then Super referred to a recording Davis made before the killings in which he made threats against his parents and said he planned to kill his neighbor.
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In front of the jury, Super said the neighbor “had been lucky” not to also been killed by Davis.
Assistant Public Defender Carolyn Schlemmer demanded a mistrial, saying the comment prejudiced the jury.
“There is no remedy for that statement,” Schlemmer told the judge.
Smith left the courtroom to consider Schlemmer’s motion, but returned after several minutes to deny a mistrial. Smith went on to tell jurors that what Super said was merely an opinion and should be taken as such.
As Smith sorted out the mistrial motion into late afternoon, he scrapped plans to send jurors into deliberations Tuesday. Instead, jurors are expected to hear closing arguments today before considering Davis’ fate.
Defense attorneys spent two days presenting witnesses in an effort to convince the jury that Davis was insane at the time of the killings. Schlemmer has already conceded to jurors that Davis killed his mother, Stephanie Davis, and grandfather, Joel Hill, on Dec. 4, 2005.
Several doctors testified that Davis suffered from numerous mental illnesses, and a brain scan also showed abnormalities. Davis’ family members also testified that he suffered from a childhood of neglect, abuse and isolation.
Davis declined to testify on his own behalf Tuesday.
In rebuttal, Assistant State Attorney Art Brown played part of a recording made by Davis three days before the slayings, in which he said he planned to kill his mother and grandfather.
“I am not sorry for the things I’ve done,” Davis said on the recording. “I am a very, very horrible person.”
After the call for a mistrial, Super was still able to testify that the comments on the recording indicated that Davis had planned the acts, and he understood that what he eventually did was wrong. Super then testified such understanding indicated that Davis was sane.
Davis also appeared lucid to several witnesses after the killings, including during hours of interviews by police, Super told jurors.
“His presentation based on all the data I was able to review was consistent with him being sane at the time,” Super testified.