Davis defense begins presenting insanity defense

BRADENTON - A doctor testified this morning in court that brain scans of Clifford Davis showed abnormalities that may have resulted in a psychotic brain disorder.

California psychiatrist Dr. Joseph Wu testified on behalf of Davis' defense, which is hoping to spare Davis the death penalty by trying to prove he was insane when he killed his mother and grandfather in December 2005.

Davis, 23, has admitted in court - outside the presence of the jury - that he killed his mother, Stephanie Davis, and grandfather, Joel Hill, in a Wares Creek apartment he shared with his mother.

During cross examination, Wu acknowledged to Assistant State Attorney Art Brown that the testing done on Davis' brain did not provide a definitive diagnosis as to whether he is insane.

In addition to two counts of first-degree murder, Davis is also accused of sexually assaulting his mother's dead body and robbery.

Davis' attorney, Assistant Public Defender Carolyn Schlemmer, is expected to take the rest of the day presenting witnesses as part her client's insanity defense. Circuit Judge Gilbert Smith said the jury could begin deliberations as early as Tuesday.

If Davis is convicted, a punishment phase would then take place during which jurors will make a recommendation to Smith on whether Davis should be sent to death row. Smith would then make a ruling while giving the jury's recommendation great weight, according to Florida law.

Smith would decide Davis' fate should a jury find him not guilty by reason of insanity, which could include a lifetime commitment to a mental hospital.

Related stories from Bradenton Herald