Judge refuses to declare mistrial in Davis murder case

BRADENTON – Testimony by a psychologist called by prosecutors in Clifford Davis’ murder trial ground the case to a halt Tuesday, and caused the judge to consider declaring a mistrial. He ultimately ruled that the trial would continue.

Psychologist John Super was on his way to telling jurors of his opinion that Davis was sane at the time he killed his mother and grandfather in 2005, when his testimony stalled proceedings.

When 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, Davis’ defense attorney called for a mistrial.

Super said in front of the jury that the neighbor “had been lucky” not to have 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 Circuit Judge Gilbert Smith.

Smith left the courtroom to consider Schlemmer’s motion for a mistrial, but returned after several minutes to deny the motion. 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 ruled that plans to send jurors into deliberations Tuesday be scrapped. 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 had already conceded to jurors that Davis in fact killed his mother, Stephanie Davis, and grandfather, Joel Hill, on Dec. 4, 2005.

Earlier today, Davis told Judge Smith he would not be testifying on his own behalf.

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