Davis to serve 25-years
Published 10:27 am Wednesday, July 26, 2017
A 28-year-old Victoria man was sentenced to 28 years in jail with three years suspended on homicide and child abuse charges in connection to the death of his 15-month-old stepdaughter in 2016.
A call was made to police on
June 9, 2016, reporting the child had fallen down the stairs. When ambulances arrived, they found the girl — Aja Cofield — unresponsive, Lunenburg County Commonwealth’s Attorney Robert Clement cited. She was kept on life support until she died days later.
Mario Davis was detained at the hospital before Cofield’s death on June 11.
A report later concluded the injuries to the child were not consistent with a fall down the stairs, but with severe head trauma.
“Initial investigation by (authorities) and the Department of Social Services has revealed that Davis and a three-month-old baby were the only other persons in the home at the time, and that the medical opinion is that the injuries to the child are not consistent with a fall down the stairway, but consistent with abusive head trauma,” Clement said at the time of the alleged incident.
The child’s mother, Marrisa Cofield, was said to be at work at a retail store in South Hill at the time of the incident, Clement said in June 2016.
According to Clement, Davis said to the court that he did not “intentionally intend” to hurt her and wished he could change the fact that his stepdaughter, Cofield, was gone.
“Circuit Court Judge S. Anderson Nelson stated that the evidence was sufficient and clearly supported the jury’s verdict,” officials said in a press release. “He said the people of Lunenburg County had spoken, and the decision was just.”
The additional three years suspended with supervised probation as requested by Clement was imposed by the judge pursuant to a special statute.
The statue was created by the state legislature for similar situations as juries cannot suspend time or give probation.
“In the past before this statute, a defendant would serve his time and then be released without supervision,” officials said in a press release.
Davis was convicted in April. According to Clement, Cofield “suffered extreme force” during the incident.
A jury convicted Davis of felony homicide and felony child abuse before recommending he spend 25 years in jail.
According to the April press release following the conviction, “the jury of six men and six women deliberated for about 35 minutes for guilt and for about the same length of time for the sentencing.”
Clement said in the release Davis was convicted in 2010 for distribution of cocaine.
“Davis continued to maintain that the child fell down a stairway inside their house at 513 Lunenburg Avenue, Victoria,” Clement said in April, “but two medical experts testified that this was not possible due to the nature of the injuries and that the child had suffered extreme force by way of what they termed ‘rapid acceleration and deceleration and blunt force’ or what the average person would call vigorously shaking the child and hitting the child’s head against a harder object.”
Clement said Dr. Robin Foster, of the Medical College of Virginia, demonstrated “the force that would be required by shaking a stuffed bear violently and then hitting the head of the bear on the edge of the witness stand, having a huge impact on everyone in the courtroom … This type of trauma used to be called ‘Shaken Baby Syndrome,’ … but is no longer used in the medical community.”
Aja’s heart had stopped when the Victoria Rescue Squad arrived, however, members Drew Lyles, Rodney Newton and Susie Long were able to resuscitate her on the scene and then went to South Hill, and then to MCV, Clement said in the release.
“Clement said the defense attorney, David Powers, of Chesterfield, argued that other persons could have inflicted an earlier injury to the child and then the child fell from the stairway later and exacerbated the injury to the head, however, Dr. Foster had testified that the child would not have been able to maintain normal function after the injury.”
Clement said Cofield said she also had contact with Aja that afternoon during a break by way of Facebook video. “Davis himself had given statements to Deputy Sheriff Bert Bruneau and Investigator Michael Landry that Aja was fine that morning until the ‘fall’ around 4 p.m. He also said his mother had picked them up that morning and taken them to a local store, during which Aja was fine.”
Clement said Davis admitted to police that he was the only adult with Aja at the house that afternoon, and that the only other person was his three month old baby, Aria. Davis was not employed, Clement said
“Evidence was presented that Aja had a large sore on her neck at the time that had previously been diagnosed as a fungal infection, but was later confirmed to be a herpatic lesion, which caused her pain. Her mother testified that she often cried and was very insistent upon being held. She said she would not even turn her head in that direction. She had been given a medication by the initial doctor, but it did not improve the sore. Clement argued that Davis must have become frustrated with Aja because of her constant crying and neediness and lost his temper, resulting in his actions toward her physically,” according to the April release.
Clement said testimony presented Aja was only 2 and a half feet tall, weighing 26 pounds, while the defendant is 6 foot, 4 inches tall, weighing 240 pounds.
He said the jury then came back after a short period of deliberation and announced their sentence of 20 years on the felony homicide and five years on the felony child abuse. Clement asked for the maximum penalty for each, 40 years and 10 years.
“Clement argued that the jury needed to protect the remaining child, Aria, from the defendant in the future as well as any grandchildren he would have access to.”
Pursuant to statute, Nelson ordered the preparation of a presentence report by the local probation officer and continued the case to July 18 at which time he will have the option of either confirming the sentence recommended by the jury or reducing it. He cannot increase the sentence, according to the release.
According to the release, Clement said he will be filing a show cause order for revocation of a nine-year suspended sentence that the defendant had on the conviction of distribution of cocaine in 2010 for failing to be of good behavior, meaning the potential for additional jail time on top of the 25-year recommended sentence.
Clement said Davis was originally charged by police with aggravated malicious bodily injury before the child died. “After her death, Clement indicted him for first degree murder, which required proof of premeditation and another indictment for felony child abuse. Clement later indicted Davis for felony homicide and then elected to proceed on that charge as well as the felony child abuse. Clement explained that felony homicide does not require proving premeditation or intention to kill, but rather the accidental killing of someone during the commission of a felony, in this case felony child abuse.”