It’s a case that pits the stories of various family members against one another. A Douglas County jury will now determine which side it believes, in deciding the fate of Arthur Davis III, 61.
Davis is accused of arranging for his 12-year-old daughter and 15-year-old son to kill their 45-year-old mother with a baseball bat on June 16. Prosecutors said that when things didn’t work out during the attack that the defendant came to the woman’s house and helped the children with the assault.
Closing arguments were delivered Tuesday morning in the trial, which is in its seventh day.
“Davis groomed his children to execute his plan to kill their mother,” said Eve Kemple, assistant Douglas County district attorney. “His plan failed.”
The victim testified that she woke up to her son attacking her and that after being hit multiple times in the head during an approximately 20-minute struggle, the defendant came over, broke into a locked bathroom and yelled at his son to continue attacking the woman.
“There is not a thing that she says happened in that house that is not backed up with evidence,” said Amy McGowan, assistant Douglas County district attorney.
Davis is charged with attempted first-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping and contributing to a child’s misconduct. Jurors also have the option to convict him of the lesser charges of attempted second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter and basic kidnapping.
The defendant testified that the attack was prompted by the mother, who, he claims, was attacking their daughter. He said he came to the victim’s house only to protect the girl.
The girl, however, had testified that her father had hatched the plan and encouraged the children to try to kill their mother.
Defense attorney Greg Robinson told jurors the case wasn’t complete and that detectives and prosecutors were focused only on convicting the defendant, to the exclusion of other explanations. Robinson said Lawrence police detectives missed important evidence that would show Davis wasn’t responsible for the attack, which occurred in the 1100 block of Hilltop Drive.
“The focus of this case was on Arthur Davis from the very beginning,” Robinson told the jury. “They want to shade it, turn it, manipulate it, so you get (to see) only what they want (you) to see … just like the police investigation, it fits what they believe.”
Prosecutors said the evidence showed Davis was responsible and that the attack was premeditated.
The incident occurred amid a heated child custody dispute between the family and less than a week after the family learned that a psychiatrist had recommended that the daughter continue living with her mother, instead of with her father.
Jurors began their deliberations just before noon Tuesday. Check back at LJWorld for continuing coverage.