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Prosecutors urge death for videotaped sex slayer

Friday, August 1, 2008 | 7:15 p.m. CDT

INDEPENDENCE — An Independence man convicted of murder in the videotaped sex slaying of a 41-year-old woman is a rapist whose crimes have spanned two decades and become more intense over time, prosecutors told jurors on Friday.

In urging the jury to recommend the death penalty for Richard Davis, prosecutors said the 44-year-old man raped a woman in 1987 and assaulted a 5-year-old girl while on the run from authorities in 2006.

The jury on Thursday found Davis guilty of first-degree murder, kidnapping, rape, sodomy and assault in the May 2006 slaying of Marsha Spicer, of Independence. He also was convicted of kidnapping, rape, sodomy and assault in the attack on 36-year-old Michelle Huff-Ricci a month earlier. He was convicted on 25 of 26 counts in all. Both Spicer's death and the attack on Huff-Ricci were recorded on videotapes that became key evidence in the trial.

Davis was acquitted on one count of first-degree assault related to the attack on Huff-Ricci. Her charred remains were found in neighboring Clay County, where Davis and his girlfriend, Dena Riley, are charged with capital murder for her April 2006 suffocation.

Riley is scheduled to go to trial next year in Spicer's killing.

In opening statements Friday in the penalty phase of Davis' trial, Assistant Jackson County Prosecutor Ted Hunt said a 1987 rape that Davis committed against a woman in Lafayette County was similar to the attacks on Spicer and Huff-Ricci. However, Davis acted alone in the 1987 rape, and the victim, who was in her 20s, survived. Davis spent nearly 18 years in prison for the rape.

Defense attorney Tom Jacquinot, meanwhile, described Davis' violent childhood, saying he was physically abused and became "sexually sick" at a young age. Jacquinot also alluded to sexual abuse suffered by Davis and his siblings.

Davis was able to overcome drug addiction, Jacquinot said, "but the sexual past, Rick never could face."

"And it got worse," Jacquinot added. "When you can't face the past and fully disclose what happened to you, it's hard to get better."

Jacquinot said that Davis spent some time in a mental institution when he was younger and that he and his family underwent counseling but didn't complete it.

He asked the jury to spare Davis' life, to "let Rick face his own demons, and let God kill him."

The 1987 rape victim, now 48, testified that Davis forced her to perform sex acts and that she thought Davis was going to kill her. She said he had threatened her with a knife.

"He kept saying he wished I was a 12-year-old girl," she said.

Prosecutors will continue presenting their witnesses on Monday. Testimony is expected from the father of the 5-year-old whom Davis allegedly assaulted while he was on the run after the deaths of Huff-Ricci and Spicer. Riley and Davis have been indicted in Kansas on a federal charge of kidnapping that girl.

The defense is expected to call a psychological expert to the stand next week to testify about Davis' troubled past.

 

 


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