State Of Mo. v. Davis

Citation318 S.W.3d 618
Decision Date31 August 2010
Docket NumberNo. SC 89699.,SC 89699.
PartiesSTATE of Missouri, Respondent,v.Richard D. DAVIS, Appellant.
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Missouri



Deborah B. Wafer, Public Defender's Office, St. Louis, for appellant.

Richard A. Starnes, Atty. General's Office, Jefferson City, for respondent.


Richard D. Davis was tried and found guilty by a jury of first-degree murder and multiple counts of first-degree assault, forcible rape and forcible sodomy in connection with the deaths of Marsha Spicer and Michelle Huff Ricci. In accordance with the jury's recommendation, the trial court sentenced Mr. Davis to death on the first-degree murder count involving Ms. Spicer. As to the remaining counts, the court sentenced Mr. Davis to 13 life sentences as a persistent sex offender, nine life sentences as a persistent offender, and two 15-year sentences as a persistent offender. For the reasons set forth below, this Court finds no reversible error in any of the points raised, finds that the sentence is proportional to the crime as required under section 565.035.3, RSMo 2000,1 and affirms.

A. General Background

The evidence at trial, considered in the light most favorable to the jury's verdict State v. Armentrout, 8 S.W.3d 99, 102 (Mo. banc 1999), shows that on May 15, 2006, officers discovered a shallow grave in rural Lafayette County that contained the body of Marsha Spicer. Police identified Richard D. Davis as a suspect in the Spicer investigation. On May 19, 2006, officers executed a search warrant on Mr. Davis' apartment and seized numerous items, among them a video camera and various videotapes, including tapes police designated as items 26 and 31.

Item 26 depicts footage of Mr. Davis and his girlfriend engaging in forced sexual acts with Ms. Spicer while her hands are bound with duct tape. It depicts Mr. Davis straddling Ms. Spicer's head and forcibly placing his penis in her mouth, punching Ms. Spicer in the side and stomach, and vaginally and anally raping Ms. Spicer as his girlfriend adjusted the camera angles. Item 31 shows Mr. Davis and his girlfriend performing forced sexual acts on a different victim, Michelle Huff Ricci. It depicts Ms. Ricci with her hands bound with yellow speaker wire. Portions of Item 31 show Mr. Davis vaginally raping Ms. Ricci while his girlfriend straddled her face, anally raping Ms. Ricci while forcing her face into his girlfriend's genitals, forcibly placing his penis in Ms. Ricci's mouth, and choking and striking Ms. Ricci on the head and back while she cried out in pain.

Police interviewed Mr. Davis. During the interview, Mr. Davis stated Ms. Spicer came to Mr. Davis' apartment and they had consensual sex for a while until Ms. Spicer said she wanted to leave. Then Mr. Davis and his girlfriend raped and sodomized Ms. Spicer. Initially, Mr. Davis claimed that Ms. Spicer accidentally suffocated to death while he and his girlfriend raped her. Mr. Davis eventually admitted, however, that he knew they were going to kill Ms. Spicer as soon as the sex “went too far,” as he decided he could not allow Ms. Spicer to leave the apartment for fear that she would alert the authorities. After Ms. Spicer died, Mr. Davis and his girlfriend cleaned Ms. Spicer's body with bleach and dumped her in the shallow grave in Lafayette County.

During the interview, police also asked Mr. Davis about Ms. Ricci. Mr. Davis stated that Ms. Ricci willingly had come to his apartment and that the two of them as well as Mr. Davis' girlfriend had consensual sex. Eventually, Mr. Davis and his girlfriend tied up Ms. Ricci against her will and raped and sodomized her. Mr. Davis said he hit Ms. Ricci seven or eight different times and that he and his girlfriend tried to smother Ms. Ricci but she resisted too much.

Based on Mr. Davis' interview, the police seized more tapes that were hidden at Mr. Davis' workplace. These tapes, which the police labeled A, B, C and D, showed Mr. Davis raping, anally sodomizing and punching Ms. Spicer and Ms. Ricci. In addition to the rape and sodomy, Tape A showed Mr. Davis grabbing Ms. Ricci by the hair, holding her face to the camera and boasting about the control he had over Ms. Ricci. Tape B showed Mr. Davis' attempt to smother Ms. Spicer and threaten to crush her larynx if she complained. Tape C showed Mr. Davis' girlfriend sitting her naked body down on Ms. Spicer's face, smothering Ms. Spicer to death while Mr. Davis held Ms. Spicer down. Tape D showed Mr. Davis taunting and choking Ms. Ricci until she urinated.

The State filed a 26-count amended information charging Mr. Davis with first-degree murder for the death of Ms. Spicer as well as multiple counts of first-degree assault, forcible rape and forcible sodomy. On July 31, 2008, the jury found Mr. Davis guilty of all counts except one count of first-degree assault against Ms. Ricci.

During the penalty phase, the state submitted three statutory aggravators: (1) that he had one or more serious assaultive convictions; (2) that the murder of Ms Spicer involved depravity of mind; and (3) that the murder of Ms. Spicer occurred while the defendant was engaged in the perpetration of rape. The jury heard aggravating and mitigating evidence. After hearing all the evidence, the jury found all three statutory aggravators and recommended Mr. Davis be sentenced to death on the first-degree murder count. The trial court sentenced Mr. Davis to death in accordance with the jury's recommendation. He appeals his conviction and death sentence. Because the death penalty was imposed, this Court has exclusive jurisdiction. Mo. Const. art. V, § 3.

B. Mr. Davis' Ake Claims

Mr. Davis was deemed indigent, and public defenders were appointed to represent him. Beginning in June 2007 and extending into July 2008, Mr. Davis filed numerous motions requesting the court to compel his counsel to conduct their legal strategy in the way he preferred or permit him to represent himself and provide him various resources.

On June 20, 2007, Mr. Davis filed a motion “to be my own lawyer.” In that motion, Mr. Davis requested the court “to appoint someone to assist in investigating facts, deposing witnesses, gathering evidence, and to give [him] the means to represent himself.” On June 25, 2007, Mr. Davis filed a motion stating, “If I can not have [counsel compelled to prepare the case according to Mr. Davis' instructions], then if it is true and I can be the so-called lawyer, and have access to assistance in doing the above then I want to do that and have access to law library, people to help investigate for me, witnesses, and help I will need for trial.”

Mr. Davis filed an additional motion the next day making similar conditional requests. The following day, Mr. Davis filed two such motions. The first asked “for court to appoint investigator, legal assistant to assist defendant in defending himself and investigating facts of the case,” and for the court to appoint someone to help with legal research and in preparing his defense and for access to a VCR and unspecified “tapes of evidence that will be used in a suppression hearing and at trial.” Mr. Davis did not state what he intended his defense to be; he said only that it would “require experts in medical drugs.” The second motion asked the court to order Mr. Davis' attorneys to do certain things “or make Defendant his own lawyer and give him the help needed to find facts, investigate constitutional violations, secure evidence and prepair [ sic ] a very complex defence [ sic ].” He filed an additional motion July 10, 2007, in which he conceded that he already had some access to a law library but asked (as he previously had done) for more library access and for a right to “30 photocopies per hour if needed and a lawyer to assist [Mr. Davis] in representing [him]self and someone to help ... investigate.”

The court addressed these various motions at an October 10, 2007 hearing. Because Mr. Davis variously sought to represent himself and for the court to order counsel to continue representing him but to do so according to his legal strategy rather than that of counsel, the court first sought to clarify what relief Mr. Davis really wanted.

Mr. Davis at first responded, “I'll do it myself, I'll represent myself.” He said he had thought it over and discussed it with his attorneys, that he was not intoxicated, could read and write English, and that no one was forcing him to decide to represent himself. The court asked Mr. Davis if he knew the rules of evidence and Mr. Davis said he would “try to learn it.” The court continued, explaining that, without the assistance of counsel, Mr. Davis' pretrial options would be limited. The court remarked that the public defender's office has “money to send out investigators, they have money to take depositions for records, things of that nature.” The exchange continued:

Court: “And do you understand that there's no absolute right in a lot of those things under the law for you to have? In other words, you would have to come up with the money for that. Do you understand that?”
Mr. Davis: “For like a, to talk to witnesses?”
Court: “Exactly. Do you understand that?”
Mr. Davis: “So, basically, I couldn't talk to witnesses or nothing?”
Court: “Well, there's certain things about witnesses where money is required, to send out investigators, to take a deposition of certain records that need to be taken or something. Do you understand that, obviously, those things cost money and you would have to obviously come up with that money?”
Mr. Davis: “No. That's one of the reasons I'm doing this, is because I was wanting this stuff done. And I thought that I could maybe do it myself, that I could question, you know, like, the police officers or witnesses in my case and prepare and learn, you know, what they was going to testify to and remembered.”

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