TOPEKA (KSNT) – A jury decided late Tuesday morning to sentence a Topeka man to life in prison in the rape and murder of an 8-year old girl.
Sherry Mason, Ahliyahs’ Aunt said “Seeing him hand cuffed today and walk out of the court room was, really what I wanted to see these past two weeks.”
Billy Frank Davis Jr. was officially convicted of murder on December 11, 2014. He had been charged with kidnapping, raping and murdering 8-year old Ahliyah Irvin in March of 2012.
Her body was found shortly after she disappeared, stuffed in the basement dryer of a Topeka apartment complex.
“I’m okay with the verdict because either way it’s the same verdict and he’s not gonna ever be able to do this to another child or their family,” say Ahliyahs’ grandma, Sharon Miller.
On Monday, the jury viewed 30 photos of Ahliyah Irvin and the blood-smeared basement where her body was found.
The district attorney had argued for the death penalty. Chad Taylor, District Attorney says, “The office is, you know, a little bit disappointed in the conclusion that the jury came to but that’s their decision to make.”
On December 12, 2014 the defense team attempted to prove that Davis’ actions in 2012 were the result of disturbed childhood, filled with violence and drugs. A child psychologist, who met with Davis over the last two years, testified that due to his childhood, he was prone to mental illness. She stated that his continued exposure to violence created emotional developmental lags, similar to a child’s.
Davis, a veteran, was diagnosed at a VA hospital for mental illness, and according to testimony, admitted to having homicidal thoughts in 2009. Davis’ attorney stated he suffers PTSD and bipolar disorder.
Ahliyahs’ family and friends had also hoped for the death penalty, but the verdict is giving them closure.
“Where I’m hurt now is just the lost still of her and seeing her beautiful face and, that’s the hardest part is knowing that we’re never going to have that again,” says Mason.
Davis Jr. will officially be sentenced on February 13, 2015.