Scott Davis decided Monday to spend the rest of his life in prison rather than risk a death sentence for the 2008 murders of his girlfriend and her teenage son.
Mecklenburg prosecutors intended to seek the death penalty against Davis. His capital murder trial was set for August.
But on Monday, Davis, 50, pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder and was sentenced twice to life in prison without parole for the killings of 38-year-old Gabrielle Kinard and 18-year-old Angelo Kinard.
Davis also shot Gabrielle Kinard’s daughter, Gabriella, then 15, as she fled carrying her 5-month-old sister in her arms. He pleaded guilty to attempted murder and was sentenced to at least 13 years in prison.
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Gabriella Kinard, now 18, wiped tears from her eyes as she told Superior Court Judge Eric Levinson about the killings of her mother and brother.
“It’s really hard to go on without my mom and brother,” she said. “When you lose the people you’re living with, you feel like you’re alone. I don’t understand how someone could destroy somebody’s life like this.
“It’s something that I’ll have to live with for the rest of my life. It’s something that will haunt me for the rest of my life.”
Davis hung his head as Gabriella spoke.
Gabrielle Kinard’s bother, Jheri Vidale, told the judge that the family didn’t want Davis to get the death penalty.
“He may think we wish death upon him,” Vidale said. “But we don’t. We wish that he lives for 3,000 years – until the end of time so maybe he will understand what life is about, that he will understand the essence of being human.”
Started with domestic disturbance
Gabrielle Kinard and her two teenagers were shot Dec. 13, 2008, during a domestic disturbance at the home they shared with Davis in the Hidden Valley neighborhood in north Charlotte. Davis is the father of Gabrielle Kinard’s youngest daughter.
Assistant District Attorney Anna Greene told the judge that the killings took place after Gabrielle Kinard had talked to Davis about him moving out of the house because of his recent loss of a job and refusal to get drug treatment and domestic violence counseling.
Davis agreed to leave, the prosecutor said, but then went into the bedroom he shared with Gabrielle Kinard, got his gun and starting firing.
Gabrielle Kinard, who tried to run from Davis, was shot once in the head and once in the neck, Greene said. She was found face down in the front yard.
The prosecutor recalled how Gabrielle Kinard pleaded: “Please, Scott. Please don’t do this.”
Angelo Kinard was shot in the head, neck and hand. He was found face down on the living room floor. Gabriella Kinard also tried to flee but fell and was shot once. The bullet grazed her right cheek.
When police arrived at the scene, the prosecutor said, Davis, who was holding his 5-month-old daughter, admitted shooting Gabrielle Kinard and her two children.
Greene then recalled Davis’ words to police: “I shot them. I did it. And I’ll do it again.”
Defense attorney Terry Sherrill told the judge that the killings were “totally out of character” for Davis.
“He was remorseful from day one,” Sherrill said. “Mr. Davis feels sorry for what happened. He has accepted responsibility for what happened – and for the damage he’s caused to the victims’ family and his family.
“Mr. Davis is now going to have to live with this for the rest of his life.”
As Davis, his wrists and legs shackled, was escorted by deputies from the courtroom, he turned to Gabriella Kinard and Jheri Vidale.
“I’m sorry,” he said.
Outside the courthouse following the sentencing, Sherrill talked about Davis’ decision to plead guilty and avoid a death penalty trial. A first-degree murder conviction is punishable by either life in prison or death.
“We felt that with the facts and circumstances of this case, there was a good chance that Scott Davis would have been convicted of first-degree murder,” Sherrill told reporters. “At that point, it would be in the jury’s hands on whether he lives or dies. This took it out of the jury’s hands.
“This way he lives.”
Greene said the decision to allow Davis to plead guilty was made after consulting with the victims’ family. Gabrielle Kinard’s daughter and brother, she said, were OK with prosecutors not seeking the death penalty against Davis.
“The defendant’s guilty plea eliminates years of appeals and ensures that the defendant will never leave the confines of a North Carolina prison,” the prosecutor said.
Davis’ father didn’t want to talk after his son’s sentencing and wouldn’t disclose his name.
“If he committed these crimes and admitted to them,” the father said, “then the sentence the judge gave him was right.”
Staff writer Claire McNeill contributed