Leon Davis Florida Death Row
Fla. Const. Leon Davis, Jr. (Davis), was convicted in Polk County of the murders of Yvonne Bustamante and Juanita Luciano.
December 13, 2007, Davis entered the Lake Wales location of the
Headley Insurance Agency (Headley) with the intent to commit robbery.
Davis was armed with a loaded .357 magnum revolver and equipped with
duct tape, a cigarette lighter, gloves, a gasoline can that contained
gasoline, and a lunch cooler to conceal the revolver.
afternoon, two Headley employees, Yvonne Bustamante (Bustamante) and
Juanita Luciano (Luciano), were working. Bustamante, a licensed customer
service representative, had worked at Headley for nine years. Luciano, a
customer service representative, had worked at Headley for about three
years. At the time, Luciano was twenty-four weeks pregnant. Upon
entering the business, Davis locked the front door to prevent other
customers from entering. He also placed duct tape over the lens of a
security camera. Davis demanded money from the women, who initially
refused to comply.
Davis then forced the women to open the
company’s safe and cash box, which contained a combined amount of about
$900. During the course of the robbery, Davis bound the women with duct
tape, poured gasoline on them, and set them on fire. At 3:35 p.m., one
of the women activated the office’s panic alarm, which sent a signal to
the alarm company. The Lake Wales Police Department was contacted one
Victims Seek Help; Davis Shoots Bystander
and Luciano escaped the burning building and ran in separate directions
seeking help. Bustamante eventually ran to the parking lot of the
Headley building, and Luciano ran to a nearby restaurant, Havana Nights.
As Bustamante tried to escape, Davis shot her in her left hand.
this time, concerned people who lived nearby had noticed the presence
of smoke and walked to the area to investigate. These people, Fran
Murray, Brandon Greisman, and Carlos Ortiz, were on the scene before
emergency personnel arrived and became eyewitnesses to the aftermath of
the robbery. Another eyewitness, Evelyn Anderson, was a Headley customer
who arrived at Headley while the robbery was in progress. At trial,
these eyewitnesses testified about the events at Headley, including
their various encounters with Davis.
Fran Murray (formerly Fran
Branch) testified that at the time of the robbery, she was sitting
outside of her apartment and saw smoke nearby. She walked toward the
smoke to investigate its source. Around the same time, her neighbors,
including Greisman and Ortiz, also noticed the smoke. They all proceeded
to walk toward the smoke to investigate.
As Murray approached the
smoke, she realized that it was coming from the Headley building. She
then saw Bustamante, who was yelling for help and whose body was
burning. Murray observed that Bustamante was wriggling her wrists to
free them of a thick gray tape, and that Bustamante’s “skin was falling
off of her.” “And, just, she wasn’t screaming, but she wasn’t talking
lightly either. She was just trying to get away.”
approached the building, he saw a woman whose body was burning, and he
went to help her. At the same time, Greisman saw Davis walking towards
them, and he originally thought that Davis was coming to help the
distressed woman. Greisman made eye contact with Davis, who pulled a gun
out of the cooler that he was carrying and pointed it at Greisman.
Greisman tried to get away, but Davis shot him in the face, hitting him
in the nose. The gunshot caused profuse bleeding and removed the tip of
Murray, who was still in the vicinity, heard
popping sounds and saw Greisman fall to the ground and catch himself
with his hands. She saw Davis walk away and place a gun into his lunch
cooler. Murray then assisted Greisman, who was getting up from the
Carlos Ortiz also heard the popping sounds as he
approached the Headley building. As he got closer to the building,
Greisman was walking back toward him with a bloody face. Greisman told
Ortiz that he had been shot, and Ortiz saw Davis behind Greisman. Ortiz
saw a part of the gun that Davis was carrying, and he saw Davis stick
his hand into the lunch cooler. Ortiz made eye contact with Davis while
trying to help Greisman as well as make sure that Davis was not
following them. Greisman walked back to his home, and Ortiz and Murray
assisted him while awaiting the arrival of emergency help.
Anderson, a Headley customer, arrived at Headley to pay her insurance
bill during the time that the robbery was taking place. Anderson parked
her sport utility vehicle in front of Headley, and her teenage
granddaughter and infant grandson remained inside the vehicle. When
Anderson tried to open the front door of the Headley building, she
discovered that it was locked. Anderson walked to the side of the
building to try and determine why she was unable to enter the building
during normal business hours. While walking, she noticed that smoke was
coming out of the building. Anderson also heard popping sounds, and
shortly thereafter, Davis walked out of the building and placed the
cooler under his arm. Anderson asked Davis what was happening. Davis
continued walking away but responded that there was a fire in the
building. Davis then walked to his vehicle, a black Nissan Altima, that
was parked at a vacant house nearby. Davis got inside of the vehicle and
thereafter, Anderson came into contact with Bustamante. Anderson
received a minor burn on her hand when she touched Bustamante, who was
screaming for help and was severely burned. Bustamante walked towards
Anderson’s vehicle, and Anderson’s granddaughter, who was seated in the
front seat of the vehicle, ran away from the vehicle after seeing
Bustamante’s burning body. Bustamante walked to the open vehicle door
and climbed inside the vehicle. Anderson encouraged Bustamante to get
out of the vehicle because the paramedics were on the way. Bustamante
got out of the vehicle and leaned on the hood.
By this time,
Murray had finished attending to Greisman, and she returned to Headley
to see if she could provide further help. Murray saw Bustamante leaning
against Anderson’s SUV. Murray described the scene as follows:
[Bustamante] was um, screaming she was hot. And that her skin was
rolling off of her body at this time. It was disgusting. You could smell
the burnt skin and flesh. And she was screaming she was really, really
hot and she was thirsty. And so I ran across the street at that time to
Havana Nights, which was a restaurant, a Cuban restaurant, across the
street of Headley, off of the other corner of Phillips, and got a cup of
ice water in a to go cup.
Murray returned to Bustamante with the
cup of water, and Bustamante sipped from the cup while awaiting the
arrival of emergency personnel. Murray talked with Bustamante, and
Murray described their conversation as follows:
myself as Fran and she introduced herself as Yvonne. We sat there
talking a minute and she started to say—and I gave her water. And, um,
she said that she didn’t understand how anybody would rob her, she
didn’t have any money. And that her kids, please pray, I’m not going to
make this Fran. And I told her that I would get to the hospital if I
could to see her, if it was allowed and that I would keep her in my
prayers, that with God everything was possible. She wanted to talk about
her children. And I cannot remember clearly if I asked her who did it,
or if she was just talking. And she said that it was a black gentleman,
and that he should be on video tape. She then started crying again and
said she loved her babies very much, and she doesn’t understand how
anybody could do this to her.
Bustamante also told Murray that she had been bound with tape, doused with gasoline, pushed into a bathroom, and set on fire.
the meantime, Luciano escaped the Headley building and ran to the
nearby Havana Nights restaurant. The restaurant’s owner, Jaidy Jiminez,
heard a loud boom, and shortly thereafter, Luciano ran into the
restaurant. Although Luciano was a Havana Nights customer, she was so
badly burned that Jiminez did not recognize her: “I saw a woman that was
naked, burned, um, burned from head to toe, no shoes on, or any clothes
on, just underwear. But I couldn’t recognize her .”
for help and begged Jiminez to close the door because “he” was coming.
Jiminez helped Luciano, whom she realized was pregnant, sit down.
Additionally, other people inside the restaurant were trying to call
9–1–1 and to assist Luciano. Luciano asked what was taking so long for
help to arrive and stated that she could not feel her baby moving.
Jiminez tried to reassure her. It was during this time that Murray came
into the restaurant asking for water, and Jiminez provided it to her.
Jiminez walked outside the restaurant to get help, and she saw the
severely burned Bustamante. Once the paramedics arrived and began to
assist Bustamante, Jiminez told them that another injured woman,
Luciano, was inside of the restaurant.
Emergency Personnel Response
dispatches increased in their sense of urgency as the initial report of
a fire gave way to additional reports of injuries and a shooting. Lt.
Joe Elrod of the Lake Wales Police Department first encountered
Greisman, who explained that he was shot while attempting to help a
woman whom he heard screaming for help and soon discovered was on fire.
Elrod determined that Greisman’s injuries were not life-threatening,
and because emergency medical personnel were on the way to assist
Greisman, he proceeded to the Headley building. When Lt. Elrod arrived
at Headley, emergency medical personnel were already on the scene and
were assisting Bustamante in the parking lot. Lt. Elrod observed
Bustamante’s severe burns, and he estimated that the burns covered about
eighty percent of her body. Lt. Elrod immediately understood the
gravity of Bustamante’s injuries, and he decided not to wait until later
to obtain Bustamante’s statement. Lt. Elrod testified: “I knew she was
going to die, so I tried to get information from her on who did it to
her.” “I asked her who did it to her. And she told me it was Leon Davis.
And then I asked her, how she knew him. And she said that she knows him
and that he was [a] prior client of theirs in the Insurance Company.”
Bustamante explained that Davis tried to rob them, and when they did not
give him money, he threw gasoline on them and set them on fire. When
they tried to run, Davis continued to throw gasoline on them.
Elrod then located Luciano inside of the Havana Nights restaurant. When
he walked inside the restaurant, he saw Luciano, who was “obviously
pregnant,” sitting down. Lt. Elrod characterized Luciano’s burn injuries
as even worse than Bustamante’s. Lt. Elrod went outside and told
emergency personnel that another victim needed help who was in even
worse condition than Bustamante. He then began dispatching the name
“Leon Davis” to law enforcement and conducting routine duties at the
Paramedic John “Chip” Johnson and emergency medical
technician Ernest Froehlich were the first emergency medical personnel
to arrive on the scene. Upon arrival, they first saw Bustamante, who was
in the parking lot and leaning on Anderson’s SUV. Johnson observed:
“the skin, everywhere I could see it, it was peeling back, and she had
suffered major burns. Also she had darkened hands, and a further injury
to her left hand, [t]hat was my observations at that time.” Froehlich
testified that Bustamante “looked like she had burns all over her body,
hair singed off, most of her clothing was burned off, skin was hanging
off her back and buttocks.”
Froehlich was present when Lt. Elrod
asked Bustamante if she knew who the perpetrator was, and he overheard
Bustamante say “Leon Davis.” Johnson also heard Bustamante state that
Davis was the perpetrator, although he was unable to clearly hear
Bustamante say Davis’s first name. Anderson also heard Bustamante
identify Davis as the perpetrator.
After initially assisting
Bustamante, Johnson went to Havana Nights to assist Luciano. When
Johnson entered the restaurant, he noticed water on the floor and saw
Luciano, who was severely burned and “basically naked.” There was a
plastic substance on her wrists, neck area, and feet. Luciano, who was
conscious, breathing, and able to talk clearly, told Johnson that she
was pregnant and that while working in her office, someone poured
gasoline on her and set her on fire. Luciano also told Johnson that her
wrists were burning, and Johnson went to the ambulance to get sterile
water to alleviate her pain.
By this time, additional emergency
medical personnel were dispatched to the scene. Upon arrival, paramedic
George Bailey assumed primary responsibility for Luciano’s care, and
Johnson went back to the parking lot to continue assisting Bustamante.
Luciano was conscious and able to respond to questions. She explained to
Bailey “that there had been a robbery, at the business where she was
at, she had been tied up or bound with tape, and had gasoline poured on
her and had been lit on fire.” Bailey did not ask her who harmed her,
but Luciano told him that the person was a man and that she knew who it
was. Luciano also told Bailey that she was twenty-four weeks pregnant.
Bailey estimated that eighty percent of Luciano’s body was burned with
second- and third-degree burns.
Both Bustamante and Luciano were
airlifted to the Orlando Regional Medical Center for treatment in the
burn unit. Luciano underwent an emergency caesarean section, during
which she gave birth to her son, Michael Bustamante, Jr.2
Although detectives went to the hospital in hopes of interviewing
Bustamante and Luciano, the severity of their injuries prevented the
detectives from ever meeting with them.
Michael lived for three
days after his emergency delivery. He died as the result of extreme
prematurity. Bustamante lived for five days, and Luciano lived for three
weeks. Autopsies of both women revealed that they died from
complications of thermal burns due to the fire. According to the medical
examiner, Bustamante suffered burns that covered eighty to ninety
percent of her body. Luciano suffered burns that covered about ninety
percent of her body. Additionally, the autopsy of Bustamante revealed
bullet fragments from the gunshot to her left hand, although the gunshot
was not a cause of her death.
Events after the Robbery
leaving the scene, Davis went to a branch of the Mid Florida Credit
Union, where he was an established customer. At 4:19 p.m., less than
forty-five minutes after the alarm was activated at Headley, Davis
walked into the credit union to make a cash deposit. Jessica Lacy, the
teller who assisted Davis, was familiar with him as a customer and knew
Davis by name. Davis deposited $148 in cash into his account that
previously had a balance of $5.33. While processing Davis’s transaction,
Lacy observed that Davis’s face was bloody and appeared to have
scratches and marks on the nose, lip, and chin. The credit union branch
manager, Valerie Dollison, was also working that afternoon. She did not
personally know Davis, but she heard someone call him “Leon.”
Davis also went to the house where his brother, Garrion Davis (Garrion), and Garrion’s girlfriend, Melissa Sellers, resided.3
Garrion testified that on the afternoon of December 13, “my brother
came to my house. He wanted to-he needed some soap to wash his face. And
he went outside my house and washed his face. I noticed he had a
scratch on his face. He told me he had robbed somebody.” Garrion
testified that Davis also came inside the house and took a shower.
Garrion estimated that Davis was at the house for ten to fifteen
Sellers, who was at home with Garrion at the time,
testified about Davis’s visit to their house that afternoon. Sellers
wished Davis, whose birthday was the next day, a happy early birthday.
She estimated that Davis was at her house for ten minutes or less, and
although she was not certain whether he had taken a shower, she knew
that he had been in their bathroom. When Davis left, Sellers observed
that Garrion’s demeanor had changed. Garrion seemed upset and was
Later, Davis went to a friend’s home, where he used
the cell phone of a woman named Fonda Roberts. Roberts was unable to
hear Davis’s conversation, which lasted a couple of minutes. When Davis
was finished using the phone, he started to hand the phone to Roberts
and then pulled it back from her. Davis then erased the number that he
called. Roberts observed that at the time, Davis was driving a black
Davis Turns Himself In
As the afternoon progressed,
a massive investigation began. Davis’s photograph was shown on
television as media began to report the events at Headley, and Davis’s
family and friends became increasingly aware of Davis’s status as a
suspect in the day’s events. Davis’s family and friends frantically
began trying to locate him in hopes that they could convince him to turn
himself in safely.
That evening, Davis called his sister, Noniece
DeCosey, and asked her to come and pick him up near a McDonald’s. Their
mother, Linda Davis, accompanied DeCosey to meet Davis. DeCosey drove
them to a Circle K convenience store to meet Davis’s and DeCosey’s other
sister, India Owens, and family friend Barry Gaston. Upon arrival,
Davis walked up to Gaston, hugged him, and said: “I hurt someone.” When
Gaston asked Davis what he did, Davis said that he did not know. Davis
and his mother got into a car with Owens and Gaston.
former law enforcement officer, helped facilitate Davis turning himself
in at the Polk County Sheriff’s substation. Gaston testified that on the
way to the substation, Davis laid his head on his mother’s lap in the
backseat of the car and cried and sobbed. Davis again said that he hurt
somebody, but Gaston told him not to say anything more. Davis was turned
over to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office without incident. Davis was
later transported from the Sheriff’s Office substation to the Bartow Air
Base for further processing.
A number of people with whom Davis
came into contact later in the day testified at trial that Davis
appeared to have some sort of injury to his nose. The crime scene
technician who photographed Davis after he was taken into custody and a
law enforcement officer who interacted with Davis upon his transfer to
the Bartow Air Base both testified that Davis appeared to have either
scratches or a burn on his nose. Additionally, Davis’s sister, Noniece
DeCosey, saw a red mark on Davis’s nose that could have been a burn.
night, a black Nissan Altima was found at the Lagoon nightclub in
Winter Haven. Law enforcement officers were dispatched to the location,
and the car was seized pending a warrant to search the car’s interior.
Searches conducted in the vicinity of where the car was located, in
particular to look for a firearm, did not reveal any additional
evidence. The following day, after the search warrant was signed, law
enforcement conducted an interior search of the Altima. Davis’s driver
license was found inside the car.
Davis was later tried for three
counts of first-degree murder (Bustamante, Luciano, and baby Michael),
one count of attempted first-degree murder (Greisman), one count of
armed robbery, and one count of first-degree arson.
Leon Davis 2019 Information
|Name:||DAVIS, LEON JR|
|Initial Receipt Date:||05/05/2011|
|Current Facility:||UNION C.I.|
|Current Release Date:||DEATH SENTENCE|