A suburban Kansas City man was found guilty Thursday of murder in the videotaped sexual torture and slaying of a 41-year-old woman. He could be sentenced to death.
Richard D. Davis, 44, of Independence, was found guilty on 25 of 26 counts. He was convicted of first-degree murder, kidnapping, rape, sodomy, and assault in the May 2006 slaying of Marsha Spicer, of Independence. He was convicted of kidnapping, rape, sodomy and assault in the attack on 36-year-old Michelle Huff-Ricci a month earlier.
Davis, who showed no emotion as the verdict was read, was acquitted on one count of first-degree assault related to the attack on Huff-Ricci. Her charred remains were found in neighboring Clay County, where Davis and his girlfriend, Dena Riley, are charged with capital murder for her April 2006 suffocation.
Riley also is scheduled to go to trial next year in Spicer's killing.
Jury to weigh death penalty
Jurors, who deliberated for less than four hours Thursday, will now determine whether Davis will face the death penalty. The sentencing portion of the trial was scheduled to begin Friday morning.
The key evidence in the case was videotapes that prosecutors say Davis and Riley made of the attacks on Spicer and Huff-Ricci to fulfill Davis' violent sexual fantasies. During the weeklong trial, jurors watched graphic DVD recordings taken from those tapes, one of which showed Spicer's death.
During closing arguments, assistant Jackson County prosecutor Tammy Dickinson told jurors that Davis held Spicer down at his apartment while Riley sat on Spicer's face and smothered her. She added that Davis and Riley thought they had made mistakes in the earlier sexual torture of Huff-Ricci and wanted to perfect their methods with Spicer.
Defense attorney Tom Jacquinot admitted that Davis killed Spicer but urged jurors to find him guilty of second-degree murder, which would have spared him a possible death sentence. Jacquinot argued that the slaying was not planned and that Davis simply became caught up in his own "horrible fantasies" about killing.
Prosecutors decline to comment
After the verdict was read, prosecutors declined to comment.
Jacquinot had little to say.
"We accept the verdict and respect the jury's decision, and now we'll move on to the sentencing part of the case," he said.
A cousin of Huff-Ricci, Lori Sell, said she was relieved that Davis was convicted of first-degree murder.
"He won't hurt no one else in the world like he did those two women."
Sell said she was one of the few members of the victims' families who remained in court while prosecutors showed jurors the DVD of the assaults. She couldn't see the images, but she said it was difficult to listen to the slaps and muffled screams.
Other family members of the victims left the courtroom without commenting after the verdict.
Huff-Ricci's death came to light after Davis and Riley were captured in southwest Missouri following a five-day manhunt in May 2006 and brought back to the Kansas City area, where they were charged in Spicer's death. Police have said both defendants led investigators to Huff-Ricci's remains.
Riley and Davis also have been indicted in Kansas on a federal charge of kidnapping a 5-year-old southeast Kansas girl related to Davis after fleeing the Kansas City area.