Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Defendant Gets Life in Prison ; Life: Prison Sentence 'A Better Choice'

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Defendant Gets Life in Prison ; Life: Prison Sentence 'A Better Choice'

Article excerpt

Survivors of 8-year-old Ahliyah Nachelle Irvin were OK Tuesday with the fact Billy Frank Davis Jr. will spend the rest of his life in prison rather than face execution for the killing of the child.

About 11:25 a.m. Tuesday, Shawnee County District Court bailiff Dianne Plemons read the verdict form saying jurors were unable to reach a unanimous verdict to send Davis to death.

That means Davis, who was convicted in the rape and murder of Irvin, will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Davis also will face weighty sentences for other convictions, including rape of the child and aggravated kidnapping.

Davis will be sentenced on Feb. 13.

Sherry Mason, an aunt of Irvin, said she was very happy Davis won't ever again walk as a free man.

"That's our justice," Mason said, referring to the child's family who attended the trial every day for more than two weeks. "I'm OK with that."

Mason hasn't forgiven Davis for killing the niece she had a special bond with.

"I want him to walk every single day fearful and scared and to go literally crazy hearing those voices in his head," Mason said. Clinical psychologists called as expert witnesses by Davis testified he has severe mental illnesses and experiences hallucinations including hearing voices.

Mason had hoped jurors would choose the death penalty for what Davis did to the child. Witnesses testified the child was beaten, suffered horrific injuries when she was sexually assaulted, and died of asphyxia.

When Davis dies, Mason hopes he is buried in prison "so he can finish his time," she said.

"I don't think I can forgive him," Mason said.

Maxine Bolte, a great aunt of the child, said, "I forgive him, not for him, but because that's what God wants."

Sharon Miller, a grandmother of Irvin, also has forgiven Davis.

"If I didn't forgive him, the anger would ruin me. But I can't let him have that control," Miller said. "(Besides) Ahliyah is dancing and singing with the angels. It's all good."

District Attorney Chad Taylor said he was "a little bit disappointed" with the jury's decision. …

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