Tuesday, December 27, 2011

TOP STORY >> Accused in double murder held

Leader staff writers

A Conway man accused in the stabbing murders of two Lonoke County residents outside their home on Friday night was denied bond during his first court appearance on Tuesday by Circuit Court Judge Phillip Whiteaker at the Lonoke County Detention Facility.

James Davis, 37, of Conway is being held in the Lonoke County jail. Prosecuting attorney Chuck Graham requested no bond for Davis because he had multiple failure to appear and fleeing charges.

Davis’ next court appearance is 8:30 a.m. Jan. 9. Graham said the appearance has been scheduled as plea and arraignment, but he said it is highly unlikely official charges will be filed by that time, so no plea will be possible. It is more likely that the process will be started to have an attorney appointed to represent Davis, Graham said.

The sheriff’s office has recommended that Davis be charged with two counts of capital murder, which carries the death penalty. But Graham said he won’t decide the official charge until after the investigation is completed, and he has read autopsy reports from the state crime lab.

The autopsy report likely won’t be available for more than a month, he said.

According to the incident report Lonoke County Sheriff’s deputies were called at 7:48 p.m. Friday to a stabbing at 87 Charles Drive, a tri-plex on Charles Drive off North Stagecoach Road on Hwy. 38 between Cabot and Ward.

The caller told the 911 operator that a white woman on her front porch was screaming for help. She had been stabbed and she was bleeding.

While deputies were responding to the scene, the caller said a white man was now stabbing the woman and a white man on the caller’s front porch.

She then said the two stabbing victims were lying motionless on her porch, and she believed they were dead. The man ran on foot from the area.

When deputies arrived, they found Tracey Mills, 45, lying on her side with her back against the raised porch of 83 Charles Drive.

She was stabbed in the chest. A large pool of blood, was on the ground under Mills. Her shirt was covered in blood and a small charcoal grill lying next to her was tipped over.

Charles Smith, 56, was lying on his back with his head towards the door, and his legs were off the porch. Smith had a large amount of blood on him.

An ambulance arrived at the same time as deputies. Mills was asking for help. While paramedics were attending to Mills, a deputy asked her who stabbed her. She said it was “James Davis.”

As the deputy tried to get more information, Mills said she could not breathe and could not answer any more questions.

The deputy reported seeing Smith, as if he was gasping for air. His body rose slightly off the ground and went limp.

Mills was taken by ambulance to Ward where she was airlifted by AIR EVAC to North Metro Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.

Emergency medical technicians told deputies Smith had died from his injuries. Both Mills and Smith lived at 87 Charles Drive.

Deputies were unable to find other witnesses.

State Police, along with Ward and Austin police officers, assisted at the crime scene.

Authorities, with the assistance of the Department of Corrections — Tucker Unit’s dog-tracking team found Davis in a wooded area near the crime scene. He was arrested at 9:35 p.m.

Deputies searched Davis and found a cell phone, a cell phone charger, an empty pack of cigarettes, a lighter and a small plastic card. Davis’ clothes were bloodstained.

Sheriff Jim Roberson said Davis’ relationship with the three is unclear. But it appeared from items found in the apartment that they lived together. The motive for the murders is also unclear, and Roberson said Davis isn’t cooperating.

Chief Deputy Dean White, who runs the jail, said Davis says he doesn’t know his own identity.