death penalty news—-TEXAS

Feb. 28

TEXAS—-new death sentence

Jury sentences killer of Fort Worth girl, grandmother to death

A 21-year-old man who gunned down a 5-year-old girl and her grandmother
during a birthday party last year was sentenced to death Friday after
jurors deliberated nearly 7 hours over 2 days.

The 10 women and 2 men on the jury voted unanimously that Erick Davila
poses a continuing threat to society and that nothing in his character and
background warranted giving him a life sentence rather than death.

The jury's responses required state District Judge Sharen Wilson to
sentence Davila to lethal injection.

It is the 1st death sentence imposed in Tarrant County since September and
the 3rd in about 12 months.

Davila was convicted Feb. 19 of the April 6, 2008, shooting deaths of
Queshawn Stevenson, 5, and her grandmother Annette Stevenson, 48.

Defense attorneys had asked jurors to spare Davila's life because of his
low IQ, mental instability and deprived childhood. He was conceived when
his mother was raped at age 13, and his father is in prison for murder,
according to trial testimony.

Mother missing

Davila showed little emotion when Wilson imposed the death sentence. But
defense attorney Robert Ford said Davila was more upset than he let on.

"He really took it very hard," Ford said. "He understood what the jury did
and why. But with the kind of problems he had, that was about the best
response he was capable of.

"I don't think he is fully able to express what we consider normal

Ford said the absence of Davilas family while the jury deliberated was

"I think the absence of his mother at this phase of the trial says a lot
about the lack of care from what should be the most important person in
his life," he said.

"She knew they were deliberating, and she couldnt be bothered to show up
for his last few days."

Impact statements

More than a dozen relatives of the victims filled one side of the
courtroom throughout the 3-week trial.

Several wiped away tears before delivering emotional victim-impact

Phyllis Lee, whose brother, Darrel Ford, was gunned down by Davila days
before the Stevensons were killed, said Davilas bad childhood is no excuse
for killing people.

"Although physically, I'd like bad things to happen to you, I ask God to
have mercy on you for what you've done," Lee said. "Vengeance is God's,
not mine. But you're 21 and you've taken a lot of lives. I hope you have
the heart to ask God for forgiveness."

Annette Stevenson's sister, Renee, told Davila that her family had
forgiven him and prayed for him.

"But I want you to know that you took the lives of the people we love,"
said Renee, who wouldn't give her last name. "Annette knew her life was
about to end, but God gave her the strength to kneel by her bed and pray.
Her 5 grandchildren last saw their Granny lying by the bed dead. They'll
be scarred for life."

She alluded to testimony that Davila told a Tarrant County jailer during
an escape attempt in September that he would kill him because he "had
nothing to lose."

"Your young son smiled at me yesterday," Renee said to Davila. "The fact
that you had a child should have been enough to turn your life around and
not go down the path your father did."

She then referred Davila to Bible passages about judgment, vengeance and

"I love you, Erick, and I forgive you," she said.

Jurors had deliberated 4 hours before convicting Davila but took almost 7
hours in punishment deliberations.

Prosecutor Bob Gill said he was not surprised by the verdict.

"I always say it doesn't matter how long they take as long as they do the
right thing in the end, and they did," Gill said.

(source: Fort Worth Star-Telegram)