Report: Davis knowingly waived Miranda rights in capital case

Posted: October 28, 2017 at 1 a.m.

John Christopher Davis

FAYETTEVILLE -- Further psychological testing has determined a husband accused of helping kill his wife knowingly waived his Miranda rights when he talked to Fayetteville police, according to a report filed Friday.

John Christopher Davis, 29, is charged with accomplice to capital murder in the death of Victoria Annabeth Davis on Aug. 19, 2015.

Legal lingo

Miranda rights: Law enforcement officers are required to inform a suspect in custody of his Miranda rights. Miranda warnings are often given verbally upon arrest and on paper before a written confession is taken. Failure to adequately provide a Miranda warning can make any statements made by that suspect inadmissible in court.

Source: uslegal.com

Police said Victoria Davis, 24, of 433 S. Hill Ave., was held captive at her house for hours and was beaten and tortured by her husband and four others.

John Davis' attorneys filed a motion in June asking Washington County Circuit Judge Mark Lindsay to suppress several statements Davis made to police. Kent McLemore and Robby Golden contended Davis wasn't read his rights and wasn't of sound mind to understand his right against self-incrimination because of an intellectual disability and the stress of the situation.

The defense also opposed further testing of Davis, arguing Davis' rights against self-incrimination could be violated.

Prosecutor Matt Durrett asked Lindsay to order more testing to determine whether an intellectual disability prevented Davis from being able to make a knowing and intelligent waiver of his rights. Lindsay in September ordered more testing.

Lacy Willett Matthews, a forensic psychologist at the Arkansas State Hospital, examined Davis in early October. Matthews noted Davis has an IQ of 71, indicating mild intellectual disability, but said he appeared to be competent. Her report was filed Friday.

"Based on the totality of the evidence available, it is my opinion that Mr. Davis' intellectual disability did not prevent him from knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily waiving his Miranda rights," Matthews wrote.

Prosecutors waived the death penalty in Davis' case after learning of his IQ level. He still faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Doctors at the State Hospital said in February that Davis is mentally fit to be tried. They said he doesn't suffer from a mental disease and has the capacity to understand the proceedings and assist in his defense.

Davis chose not to participate in an assessment to determine his mental state at the time of the killing, based on the advice of his attorney, according to the report. He also declined to give doctors an account of the incident.

The other defendants are Mark Edward Chumley, 46; Rebecca Lloyd, 37; Christopher Lee Treat, 30; and Desire Treat, 30. All are charged with accomplice to capital murder. All are being held without bond at the Washington County Detention Center.

Accomplice to capital murder is punishable by either life in prison or the death penalty.

Christopher Treat's attorneys filed a motion in November arguing testing determined he has an IQ of 68 and federal law prohibits a death sentence for offenders who are intellectually disabled at the time of committing capital murder.

Chumley called police and gave his phone to Davis who said he killed his wife because she wanted a divorce. Davis told police he "shot her up with dope" and his wife was "in the living room on the floor," according to the police log.

Davis' next scheduled court appearance is Dec. 4.

NW News on 10/28/2017