CHILD RAPE CASE 4th time for plea change
The judge and prosecutor are divided over whether life in prison is an option.
By BOB JACKSONand IAN HILL
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITERS
YOUNGSTOWN -- Enrico Davis has once again pleaded guilty to raping two young girls.
Davis, 31, formerly of Fountain Square, Austintown, pleaded guilty Monday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court to four counts of rape and one count of aggravated burglary in the assaults of a 10-year-old girl in 1998 and 1999, and a 12-year-old girl in 2001. He also pleaded guilty in 2003 to the charges, only to later withdraw that plea.
Overall, Davis has changed his pleas four times.
"He did this already. It's a game," said the mother of a girl who police say is one of Davis' victims. She added that she doubts the sincerity of Davis' latest plea.
"He knows what he's doing," she said.
No date has been set for Davis' sentencing.
Prosecutors have said they believe Davis has manipulated the justice system by changing his pleas and repeatedly firing his attorneys to delay his trial.
Court records show Davis' trial on the 1999 rape charge has been postponed 22 times and that his trial on the 2001 rape charge has been postponed 20 times.
He was slated to go on trial for the 2001 rape Monday, but that was negated when he pleaded guilty.
Records show that prosecutors and defense attorneys asked for many of the postponements because they had to appear in court on other cases. Judge Robert Lisotto also delayed the Davis cases 10 times so he could preside over other cases, three of which were civil lawsuits.
On May 12, 2003, Davis changed his plea from innocent by reason of insanity to guilty to all charges in exchange for the prosecution's recommendation that he be sentenced to 20 years in prison, instead of life. A month later, Davis' attorney made a motion to withdraw the guilty plea. Judge Lisotto granted the motion.
Assistant Prosecutor Dawn Krueger said that she now is asking that Davis be sentenced to life in prison. But Judge Charles J. Bannon said that based on his understanding of Davis' indictment, the most Davis should get for each rape count is 10 years.
Judge Bannon is retired from the common pleas bench and was appointed by the Ohio Supreme Court to fill in for Judge Lisotto, who is on sick leave.
Judge Bannon said he doesn't believe the indictments against Davis include language alleging that Davis used force, or the threat of force, to coerce the victims into sexual conduct. Without that language, there can be no life sentence, he said.
"I know there has been a lot of talk about there being life sentences, but I don't read [the indictment] that way," Judge Bannon said.
Krueger said afterward that she disagrees and will still push for life sentences, which she said should apply in three of the rape counts.
The judge told Davis that he'll listen to sentencing recommendations from Krueger and defense attorney Douglas B. Taylor, but that when it comes to the final word on sentencing, "I'm the dude."
The prospect of Davis' not facing a life sentence did not sit well with the mother of one of Davis' victims.
"I'm so angry about this, I'm steaming," the woman said. She wants Davis to be in jail for life.
The charges against Davis say he forced a 10-year-old girl he knew to perform sex acts several times over a three-month period in 1998 and 1999. He was indicted on a rape charge in February 1999.
In 2001, while free on $50,000 bond, Davis was arrested by Austintown police, accused of raping a 12-year-old girl who was his neighbor.
A county grand jury indicted Davis on charges of aggravated burglary and three counts of felony rape. He has remained in jail since his 2001 arrest.