Trial begins in videotaped rape, killing of Independence woman

Saturday, July 26, 2008 | 6:06 p.m. CDT

INDEPENDENCE - A man on trial for capital murder in the videotaped slaying and sexual torture of a 41-year-old woman will not dispute most of the charges against him, his lawyer said Friday.

But defense attorney Tom Jacquinot said in his opening statement in Jackson County Circuit Court that there will be questions about whether Richard Davis, 43, deliberated before killing Marsha Spicer.

"A confession is a confession," Jacquinot said. "A videotape is a videotape. Nobody is going to come here today and say these things didn't happen."

Davis faces 40 felony counts, including capital murder, kidnapping and rape in the May 2006 death of Spicer, of Independence. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

Jackson County assistant prosecutor Ted Hunt said during his opening statement that Davis and his girlfriend, Dena Riley, lured Spicer to his Independence apartment and "did not intend to let her leave alive."

Hunt showed the jury and judge several slides from videotapes the couple had made of themselves brutalizing and raping Spicer while her hands and eyes were covered with duct tape. Hunt also said Davis beat, raped and strangled Spicer, while his girlfriend smothered her during a sex act.

The trial for Riley, 42, is scheduled for next year.

Davis and Riley also are charged in neighboring Clay County with capital murder in the April 2006 suffocation of Michelle Huff-Ricci, 36. Her charred, skeletal remains were found in May 2006 in rural Clay County, just north of Independence.

Ricci's death came to light after Davis and Riley were captured in southwest Missouri after a five-day manhunt and brought back to the Kansas City area to be charged in Spicer's death. Police have said both defendants led investigators to Ricci's remains.

Riley and Davis also have been indicted in Kansas on a federal charge of kidnapping a 5-year-old southeast Kansas girl related to Davis after fleeing the Kansas City area.

The courtroom seats were filled with family and friends of the victims, some of whom had to leave when slides of Spicer's dead body were shown. Davis sat quietly at the defense table, and did not appear to look at any of the slides of the women.

Hunt told the jury that evidence would include a video of what he called "the death scene," in which Davis and Riley attack Spicer on the bed in Davis' apartment. Davis continues "to rape Miss Spicer for two minutes after she's gone limp," Hunt said.

The video, he said, also shows Davis and Riley "kissing and embracing" over Spicer's dead body.

The couple later put Spicer's body in the bathroom tub and poured a container of bleach over her to destroy DNA evidence, the prosecutor said.

Dr. Thomas Gill, a forensic pathologist who performed the autopsy on Spicer, said she died from a combination of strangulation and suffocation, and that the suffocation "was the last straw."

Davis and Riley fled the Kansas City area in May after police spoke with them briefly at their home after receiving a tip from Lorie Dunfield, a friend of Spicer's who had met Davis.

She led police to his apartment.

"He told me his fantasy was to start killing women," Dunfield testified.

After interviewing the couple at their apartment, police released Davis and Riley while they applied for a search warrant, which they executed the next day. By that time, the couple had fled.

Jacquinot said while Davis and Riley were on the run across southern Missouri and parts of Kansas, they tried to commit suicide by mixing a variety of pills with alcohol. They also made a tape recording, "a last will and testament tape," in which they expressed their regret, he said.

On the tape, Davis tried to offer an explanation for what he had done, Jacquinot said.

"How we got to this point, we don't even understand," Jacquinot quotes Davis as saying. He said he wanted to "stop this madness."

"I wish me and Dena ... had normal lives. We're bad people. ... Whoever listens to this tape, don't hit your kids," Jacquinot quoted Davis as saying.

In later interrogations with police, Davis said he was obsessed with sex and that it was all he could think about.

"The only way he could release his tension was in engaging in threesomes," Jacquinot said Davis told police. He often videotaped his encounters, many of which were consensual.

"Then the fantasies got darker, they got criminal," Jacquinot said.

Testimony was scheduled to continue Saturday, and the trial was expected to last at least two weeks.


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