WARNER ROBINS -- A 47-year-old Warner Robins grandmother makes the nearly 30-mile trek to the Houston County jail every week to visit the two people accused of the starvation death of her 2-year-old grandson.
Her son, William Thomas Davis III, 27, and his live-in girlfriend Sade Shamon King, 24, are awaiting trial on charges of malice murder, felony murder, cruelty to children, aggravated battery and aggravated circumstances in the Sept. 11, 2010, death of their son D’Shawn Davis.
“Every week, I’m so tired,” Patricia Davis said while seated on her living room couch. Her granddaughter is playing with finger puppets nearby. Smith asked her go in the bedroom for a little bit. “But then I see her.”
Davis is referring to granddaughter Teya Davis, the 6-year-old daughter of her son and King. Davis is raising her granddaughter, having had her in counseling since her parents were accused of starving her brother and failing to provide medical care.
“I sure got that on my mind: He had sickness, I really do believe,” Davis said. “I don’t think he (William Davis) did that. I’m going to keep on believing it.”
She said she feels the same way about King. “I don’t think they would do that. Plus, I know my son,” Davis said.
Houston County public defender Nick White, who is representing her son, said an expert pathologist is testing tissue samples of the deceased child to determine if there was any underlying cause of the malnutrition outside of not being fed, such as cancer.
The mother told authorities on the day of the child’s death that she had been feeding him grits, and he had not been able to keep them down, White said.
The case had been scheduled to go to trial in October 2011, with White and David Daniell, a Warner Robins attorney appointed to represent the mother, both successfully seeking a continuance. Daniell’s expert witness was not available until November, according to court records.
And White also sought time for his expert to review all the medical records and arrange for the testing of the autopsy evidence. Once the expert completes his evaluation, the defense and the expert will confer, and then the defense will provide materials required for prosecutors to prepare in relation to the defense witness.
The case is now scheduled for the February court term before Houston County Superior Court Judge Katherine K. Lumsden. The two trial weeks of the term are Feb. 6 and Feb. 13.
White said his ability to try the case by February would depend on whether the findings of his expert witness are received by late January, which might be a bit ambitious, he said.
Daniell could not be reached for comment. In one of his court filings, Daniell noted that King immediately professed her innocence to law enforcement.
Daniel Bibler, one of the Houston County prosecutors trying the case, said while the case is on the February calendar, there are some issues that need to be worked out first.
One issue is an unrelated murder trial of two men accused of the shooting death of a Warner Robins teen, Bibler said. That trial also is on the February court calendar, and Bibler also is trying that case.
While Bibler declined to talk about the facts of the alleged starvation case, he said the death penalty would not be sought. He deferred comment on the reason for the decision to District Attorney George Hartwig, who could not be reached for comment.
Death penalty notice not filed
When the case was originally indicted, Warner Robins attorney Rabb Wilkerson was serving as the district attorney per the appointment of then-Gov. Sonny Perdue. Wilkerson said while the aggravating circumstances charge was included, the decision on whether to seek the death penalty would be made after the November 2010 election. Wilkerson lost the three-man race, and Hartwig won in a runoff. A required notice to seek the death penalty has not been filed.
Through the waiting, Davis said she encourages her son and his girlfriend to keep praying and to keep God in their hearts.
Retired Houston County sheriff’s Capt. Jerry Stewart, who headed the juvenile division, said upon the couple’s arrest that the child neglect case was “one of the most, if not the most, egregious” in his then-37-year career.
“It’s the kind of case that follows you home at night -- that keeps you awake,” Stewart said at the time. He described the child’s body as “not much more than a skeleton.”
The boy weighed 12 pounds and 6 ounces at his death. His rectum showed signs of having been left in his own urine and feces, Houston County sheriff’s Sgt. Darin Meadows, a sheriff’s investigator assigned to juvenile crimes, previously has said.
In the indictment, the couple was accused of leaving the child in an “unnecessarily non-hygienic environment” that resulted in “severe sores and abscesses that disfigured and rendered useless the skin on the victim’s back and legs.”
To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.