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In trouble like a grownup
October 9, 2008 - Joe Gorman
Michael Davis still looks like a kid, the only difference being as his capital murder trial began Thursday that he looked more scared as opposed to being lost.
He even displayed some emotion, weeping as the 911 tape of the fire he is accused of setting that killed six members of the Crawford family at their Stewart Avenue home in January was played for the jury.
That was one of the most uncomfortable moments of my journalistic career, even though I listened to the tape the day after the fire in the comforts of the newsroom, but that was back in January when I was at my desk and dealing with two or three other stories and making my deadline. In journalism, almost everything loses perspective on deadline. Thursday, I heard again Retia Crawford shriek into the phone, ``I don't want them to die!'
I was unsettled as almost the entire courtroom was and it was hard to maintain my composure, and I was not the only one, as the jurors squirmed and one wiped away a tear.
The members of the media outnumbered the spectators and the survivors of the blaze almost all cleared the courthouse after they were finished testifying. Davis still has the same kind of peach-fuzz 12-year-old look, the oversized suit he was wearing helping that image along.
If his lawyers are cultivating that image to make him seem like less of a monster, that's hard to say.
I think one of the lawyers hinted at a possible defense by asking one of the detectives if Davis could be covering for someone, possibly a brother. That sets up some wild scenarios when the defense gets its turn. Davis' mother was adamant in the days after the fire that her son was covering for someone else, and she is also on the witness list.
The range of emotions is incredible as well. I remember when one of the survivors of the fire -- the kid who stole Davis' phone was testifying. At first, I'm thinking, what a punk as this kid talks about how he took the phone, which investigators say ticked off Davis enough to start the fire. But later, he tells of how he was awakened in the chaos of the fire and grasped Jennifer Crawford's hand -- only to have it slip away in the smoke. She never made it out. He was the last person who touched her, and he broke into tears on the witness stand.
How will this scar the young man, Ricky Williams, and Julius Crawford, who knew the phone was stolen but didn't do anything about it? Not to excuse mass murder, but they have to be carrying a lot of emotional baggage.
No matter what happens, one thing is clear. Michael Davis will be forced to grow up -- possibly on Death Row.
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