Davis gets life for Meadowvale neighbor’s murder

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 20, 2009

Jurors needed just 2 1/2 hours to return two guilty verdicts Thursday against Eric Davis, ending his four-day trial for the shooting death of 23-year-old Devin M. Moore.

Davis, 35, stood without reaction, and family members of both defendant and victim sat silently as the verdicts were read on charges of murder and being a felon in possession of a weapon.

After thanking and dismissing the jury, presiding Judge Isadore Patrick sentenced Davis on the murder conviction to the mandatory life in the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman. Sentencing on the second charge will take place in two weeks, Patrick said, ordering a pre-sentencing report.

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Davis did not look back as he was led out of the courtroom.

Family and friends of Davis then conferred briefly with defense attorney John Bullard, while in the lobby outside the courtroom, where the victim’s family gathered.

“I just thank God,” said Helen Williams, Moore’s mother. “I can’t get my baby back, but I just wanted justice and I thank God it was served.”

Eddie Graves Sr., Moore’s father, said he, too, was satisfied with the verdict.

Moore was a senior business major at Jackson State University, his mother said. He was an honor roll student who was working a summer job as a server at Ameristar and, when he was killed, was due to graduate in six months.

“I commend the jury on a very difficult case and thank them for their hard work,” said District Attorney Ricky Smith. “And I give a lot of credit to Assistant District Attorney Dewey Arthur. He did a fantastic job preparing the case.”

The trial featured a jury visit to the scene of the shooting, 106 Meadowvale Drive, where Moore lived with Williams. Davis lived next door at 112 Meadowvale. Davis and Williams both testified about property line disputes and other issues that led to feuding and hostility between them, with Davis calling the police several times and accusing Williams of trespassing.

Davis admitted shooting Moore just after 10 p.m. June 25, 2008, but said he reacted in self-defense when Moore came after him with a gun just days after Williams threatened his life. He had obtained the weapon as a result of her threat, he said, despite a 1995 conviction for cocaine possession that made it illegal for him to own a firearm.

Arthur, however, presented a number of witnesses who said they heard gunshots, and then saw Davis fire two more shots into Moore after the victim had fallen face down on the ground. The medical examiner who performed the autopsy said two of Moore’s five gunshot wounds were consistent with that testimony.

Prosecution witnesses also testified that Moore had been speaking on his cell phone with a woman, not threatening Davis, just minutes before the shooting.

Patrick instructed the jurors, who had been sequestered since Monday, that they could find Davis guilty of murder or the lesser charge of manslaughter — shooting Moore in the heat of passion — or, if they believed he acted in self-defense, not guilty. Patrick also instructed them on the law as it relates to trespassing and self-defense.

Thursday’s court session also featured the unusual step of having a bailiff examine, with a hand-held metal detector, each person who entered the courtroom. Deputies reported no problems.

In 2008, seven homicides were reported in Vicksburg — five in one week in June. Moore was among the five during that week. Two were reported last year in the county.

Contact Pamela Hitchins at phitchins@vicksburgpost.com