Franklin Davis was sentenced to death by the State of Texas for a murder. According to court documents Franklin Davis pretending to be someone else met the victim through a social media set and arranged a meeting. The victim was surprised to see him and agreed to get into his vehicle to talk through a recent indictment regarding Davis sexually assaulting the victim. Franklin Davis would drive to a remote location where he would murder the victim, sixteen year old Shania Gray. Franklin Davis would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death.
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Franklin Davis More News
A 31-year-old Mesquite man was sentenced to death Saturday for murdering a teenage baby sitter who had accused him of rape.
Franklin Davis admitted to shooting 16-year-old Shania Gray two times at an Irving park in September 2012 after picking her up from school in Carrollton. He then stepped on her throat to stop her breathing.
At the time, Davis was poised to stand trial on a charge that he sexually assaulted Shania. He has repeatedly denied that charge and said during the trial that he killed Shania to keep her from testifying against him.
Davis cracked a smile and stood with his hands in his pockets when state District Judge Mike Snipes read the sentence Saturday morning. Davis then shook hands with his attorneys and was escorted out of the courtroom.
He had been waiting to learn his punishment since before lunch Friday, when jury deliberations began. Jurors were sequestered in a hotel overnight and reached their decision within about 30 minutes of reconvening Saturday.
The resolution brought relief and tears to the dozen or so of Shania’s friends and relatives gathered in the courtroom. A few hugged or nodded their heads firmly upon hearing the verdict. Some wore T-shirts that said, “No more violence.”
“I just feel like justice has been served,” said Toni Alexander, a family friend of Shania. “It is a good day. It is — even though a child has been lost.
Prosecutors also praised the jury’s decision. They pointed to Davis’ violent past as a sign that he is a future danger to society. They presented evidence of several assaults on women and, after his arrest, a brief escape from Dallas County custody. A deputy was injured during the escape.
The prosecutors also argued that justice was important for Shania, who had a right to speak out about her abuse.
“Shania Gray finally has closure,” prosecutor Brandon Birmingham said. “He tried everything he could to drag her name through the mud for the last year and a half, and a jury finally stood up to him.”
Before he killed Shania, Davis called and texted her pretending to be a man named “D” and asking repeatedly about the alleged rapes. He testified that he was conducting his own investigation because he did not believe the police or attorneys were properly looking into the case.
Davis also sent himself fake texts that appeared to come from Shania’s phone. The messages denied the sexual assault allegations. He told jurors during the guilt-innocence phase of the trial that he killed Shania because “she ruined my life.”
Defense attorneys focused on Davis’ past and urged jurors not to base their verdict on emotion.
They said Davis grew up in a violent, drug-ridden area of St. Louis, “an urban American nightmare.” They said he had been molested by his siblings and grandfather and neglected by his mother, who was raped and murdered in 1997.
“It would have been better if those children had been raised by wolves,” defense attorney Brady Wyatt said during the trial. “Wolves protect their pups.”
The defense attorneys declined to comment while leaving the courthouse.
Prosecutors still must navigate a long legal process before Davis can be executed. All death penalty sentences are granted automatic review by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Other legal challenges are likely. The average Texas death row inmate spends more than a decade behind bars.
But Shania’s friends and family said they were happy to have the trial over. It has been a difficult year, they said.
Shania’s mother, Sherry James, who sat in the front row with her arms crossed during much of the trial, missed the verdict because her son was in the hospital. After the punishment was announced, her friends and family called her from the courthouse hallway. She could be heard crying over the speaker phone.
James said during the trial that her surviving son is autistic and doesn’t speak. She said he can’t express emotion or understand what happened to his sister but he knows she is gone.
Sometimes, she told the jury, she plays him videos from her phone of Shania singing.
“He just kisses the phone,” she said. “That was his best friend.”