Sexual predator pleads guilty to Clay County woman's murder

Donald Davidson Jr. killed woman, sexually assaulted her daughter

By Scott Johnson - Reporter

GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. - Donald Davidson Jr., a sexual predator charged with murder in the 2014 killing of Roseann Welsh and sexual battery of her 10-year-old daughter, pleaded guilty to those and several other charges Wednesday morning.

Davidson told Circuit Judge Don Lester he didn’t want the children to relive the horror of his crimes in a courtroom.

"I want to spare the victims from coming to trial," Davidson said.

Davidson then agreed he was responsible for almost every heinous act the prosecution laid out. 

Davidson mentioned at a pretrial hearing last week that he wanted to plead guilty and have the judge sentence him, against his attorney's advice.

"You understand there are only two possible options to the court: it’s either a life sentence -- a true life sentence -- or the death penalty," Lester told Davidson on Wednesday.

Davidson, who was set to go on trial in two weeks, waived his right to a jury trial and plead guilty to first-degree murder, attempted sexual battery of a victim over 12 years old, four counts of sexual battery on a victim under 12, lewd or lascivious molestation, kidnapping and grand theft auto.

Davidson will now be sentenced the week of June 10.

When arrested, Davidson already had a long criminal history and was a convicted sexual predator. In 2005, Davidson was convicted of committing lewd and lascivious acts on a child under the age of 12, and he also has priors for aggravated battery, sexual battery and theft.

Roseann WelshInvestigators said Davidson cut off his GPS monitor while on controlled release from prison when he strangled, stabbed and killed Welsh in her Middleburg home. After killing Welsh (pictured, right), investigators said Davidson stole her minivan, kidnapped her 10-year-old daughter and sexually assaulted her. He let her go and she managed to get home.

The victim’s son returned home several hours later but was locked out and told by Davidson, a boyhood friend of Welsh's husband, that his mother was not home. When the boy returned home later, he found his mother dead on the bathroom floor, and her van and his younger sister gone.

"I was one of the detectives in this case and it still brings me to tears to think about that day and the interview with her poor son," Clay County Sheriff's Office Chris Padgett said. "He knew he’d never see his mother again and felt as though he should have done more for her and his sister."

After an extensive manhunt, Davidson was arrested driving on Blanding Boulevard. A search revealed the knife used in the crime and Davidson admitted to planning and attempting to sexually assault the woman in her home.

Davidson was one of dozens of sexual predators living within walking distance of the Middleburg home where he killed Welsh and abducting her daughter.

During Davidson's final pretrial hearing a week ago, he told the judge he wanted to plead guilty and be sentenced. His attorney advised him against entering a guilty plea.

At Wednesday's hearing, Davidson said he only finished the eighth grade and at one point was treated for something he called “schizo disease." He also claims he was using cocaine at the time of the murder.

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