TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously upheld the murder conviction and death sentence of a man who killed a Clay County woman in 2014 and sexually abused her 10-year-old daughter.
Justices rejected arguments raised by attorneys for Donald Davidson Jr., who was convicted in the murder of Roseann Welsh, a friend who had invited Davidson into her home.
The Supreme Court ruling said Davidson tried to rape Welsh but that she broke away when she heard a school bus arrive. Davidson followed Welsh into a bathroom where he strangled her with a shoelace and then stabbed her in the throat with a buck knife, the ruling said.
Davidson then saw the daughter in a kitchen of the home and sexually assaulted her before forcing her into the family’s minivan and driving away. He sexually assaulted the girl in the van before letting her out near the home, according to the ruling.
Davidson’s attorneys raised a series of issues in the appeal, including that a circuit judge had not properly considered what are known as “mitigating” circumstances, including circumstances involving Davidson’s childhood, before imposing the death sentence. But the Supreme Court rejected the arguments.
“Here, the trial court found that Davidson’s father had indeed abandoned him at a young age, that Davidson (at times) lived with two uncles who were sex offenders --- assigning little weight to each circumstance,” the 26-page ruling said. “Davidson did not present evidence establishing a close nexus between this mitigating evidence and his murdering Welsh. The mitigating value of the above evidence was less than compelling in other respects. As for living with two sex-offender uncles, there was no evidence that either of them abused Davidson; and the evidence does not disclose the length of time that they actually lived in the same household as Davidson. And, although Davidson’s father abandoned him at an early age, Davidson had a good and loving relationship with his mother.”