Public Safety

Marion man found guilty in fatal stabbing of ex-girlfriend, faces life in prison

Jury returns verdict in two hours

Gregory Davis watches as the jury enters the courtroom during his first-degree murder trial at the Linn County Courthouse in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018. Davis is accused of stabbing his ex-girlfriend Carrie Davis in the home they shared 26 times during an argument on Sept. 28, 2017. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Gregory Davis watches as the jury enters the courtroom during his first-degree murder trial at the Linn County Courthouse in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018. Davis is accused of stabbing his ex-girlfriend Carrie Davis in the home they shared 26 times during an argument on Sept. 28, 2017. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
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A Marion man showed no visible emotions Friday as a judge read a verdict declaring him guilty of first-degree murder in the fatal stabbing his 29-year-old ex-girlfriend last year.

Gregory Davis, 29, who claimed insanity and/or diminished responsibility in his defense of the act, was found guilty after jurors deliberated about two hours Friday, following a week long trial in Linn County District Court. He faces life in prison without parole.

Davis stabbed Carrie Davis 26 times on Sept. 28, 2017, in the Marion home they shared, according to court documents. Davis then attempted to conceal the body in a roll of carpet, which authorities found on a utility trailer Oct. 2 parked outside of his parents’ vacant rental house in Marion.

The former couple shared a common name but were not married or related, according to testimony.

Carrie Davis’ family members showed relief and cried after the verdict was read Friday. They declined to make a statement or comment on the verdict.

Gregory Davis’ many family members and friends, who supported him throughout the weeklong trial, were also upset upon hearing the verdict and watching deputies lead hom out of the courtroom in handcuffs. He will remain in jail pending sentencing.

After the verdict, Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden said he appreciated the jury’s “hard work and serious consideration.” He said he wasn’t too surprised by the short deliberation time, considering “how clear the facts were about how Davis killed her” and that there was a weapon used.

“They didn’t need an expert to figure out intent — just their common sense,” Vander Sanden said. “His actions spoke volumes about his intent.”

Linn County Chief Public Defender Brian Sissel wasn’t immediately available for comment.

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During closing arguments, Vander Sanden told the jurors this was first-degree murder because Gregory Davis made a conscious decision to use a weapon.

“He had time to think about what he was going to do with the weapon,” Vander Sanden said. “The autopsy was shocking. He stabbed her 26 times. His mind telling his arm and hand to bring that weapon down on Carrie.”

Vander Sanden argued that Gregory Davis’ intent was more obvious because, with the use of a knife or other sharp object, he had to be close to her.

“Think about how long this took,” he told jurors. “She was moving, trying to get away. She must have been bleeding for her life. She was no match for someone bigger and stronger than her.”

Vander Sanden asked the jury to consider what Gregory Davis did after Carrie Davis’ death. He was capable of making a conscious, rational decision to conceal the crime. He even contemplated suicide, Vaneder Sander said. In testimony earlier this week, investigators found a “makeshift noose” hanging from Gregory Davis’ parents’ garage after they arrested him.

He wrapped up the body in a sheet and three blankets, then went through the process of of cutting carpet rolls, Vander Sanden said, explaining that Gregory Davis was thinking ahead and knew he had to hide her body. “He even thought to put another roll in the trailer, next to her (concealed) body, so it looked less noticeable,” he said.

Vander Sanden also asked the jury to consider the signed confession that Gregory Davis left when he contemplated suicide but tore up when he didn’t go through with it.

“‘I stabbed Carrie Davis in a vicious attack four days ago when I was on drugs and was possessed by the devil,’” Vander Sanden said, reading the note. “‘She is in the trailer. She was the love of my life.’

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“It sounds like a suicide note,” Vander Sanden said. “He wants to reconcile what he did. The notion that he didn’t know right from wrong doesn’t make sense.”

In the defense’s closing remarks, Sissel said Vander Sanden didn’t address one element of the crime — why it happened. Two experts, a psychiatrist and a psychologist said Gregory Davis didn’t have intent to commit a crime. Both said he was in a meth-induced psychosis at the time of the stabbing.

“The prosecutor wants you to think he (Davis) tricked both of them,” Sissel said.

Gregory Davis faced issues since his childhood because of his cleft lip and palate. Sissel said he didn’t fit in, so he started self-medicating to feel better about himself. He went through some treatment and had brief moments of sobriety, Sissel said.

At age 17, he started using methamphetamine, Sissel said. Davis’ long-term meth use made it nearly impossible for him to stop, as Ames psychiatrist Arthur Konar testified, Sissel noted.

The only thing the two experts didn’t agree upon was whether long-term drug use can lead to psychosis, Sissel told the jury. Konar thought it did. He said Davis couldn’t distinguish between right and wrong. Both experts testified that Gregory Davis told them he thought if he killed Carrie Davis, it would make the demons go away and she would be resurrected.

Sissel said the only way the jury could convict Gregory Davis is if they didn’t believe the experts’ testimony.

Vander Sanden, on rebuttal, said there are limits to what experts can determine because they only have a limited time with and knowledge about the defandant. They also have to rely on information from others, like family members such the defendant’s mother, Kathy Davis.

“Is Kathy Davis impartial?” Vander Sanden asked the jury.

He also asked the jurors to read the instructions regarding specific intent, which say to consider the facts and circumstances around what the defendant has done to determine intent.

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“It’s fair to infer when a person gets a weapon and stabs another 26 times, that person intends to kill,” Vander Sanden said.

l Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

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