TOPEKA — A former Lawrence resident who was convicted of murder in a high-profile case more than 30 years ago has had her conviction expunged.
The expungement for Kathleen Cobb means that when a criminal background check is conducted for employment, the conviction will not show up on her record.
Cobb’s expungement was approved by Shawnee County District Court Judge David Debenham. A spokesman for the Shawnee County District Attorney’s office said the office opposed the expungement because of the seriousness of the crime. Debenham declined to comment on the case.
When the Lawrence Journal-World requested to see the legal petitions and expungement order, Shawnee County officials said no records related to the case could be released.
Cobb has moved out of Kansas and declined to comment about the issue.
Cobb served more than 17 years in prison after being convicted of first-degree murder in the death of Henry Davis, a Lawrence resident.
At the time of the incident, Cobb and Davis were both 22, close friends and drug users.
According to testimony at the time, Cobb had said that Davis asked her to help him commit suicide. He wanted to kill himself because he had a premonition that he would suffer a car crash and long, painful death, Cobb said.
On Feb. 27, 1980, Cobb and Davis were on a country road southwest of Topeka. Cobb administered two doses of cocaine to Davis.
The cocaine caused Davis to go into convulsions. Cobb panicked and tried to smother him. Then she screamed, “God, please forgive me,” and shot him in the back of the head.
Cobb, who turned herself in to police, insisted she was assisting in Davis’ wish to end his life, which carried a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Davis had written a suicide note. But a jury said it was murder and she was sentenced to life in prison with the first chance at parole after 15 years. She appealed to the Kansas Supreme Court, but lost.
After getting out of prison in 1998, Cobb got a social worker’s degree and worked as a drug counselor in Wyoming.
In 2010, Cobb returned to Lawrence, working as a case manager for the Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority.
She received a social worker’s license from the Kansas Behavioral Sciences Regulatory Board after a 5-3 vote by the board, which added numerous conditions to her license.
Last January, there was a hearing in a Shawnee County District Court on Cobb’s request to expunge her conviction, according to the Shawnee County District Attorney’s office. Judge Debenham issued the expungement order in February.