Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Suspect in Murders of Two Teens Pleads Guilty

Jesse Davis, 31. Police photo.

Jesse Davis, one of the men charged in the deaths of Winter Park, Fla., teenagers Nicholas Presha, 16, and Jeremy Stewart, 18, has pleaded guilty and will serve life in prison. The burning bodies of the slain teens were found by bicyclists near a trail on April 15.

Davis, 31, is a diagnosed delusional schizophrenic and had to undergo mental health evaluations to determine whether he was fit to stand trial. In exchange for the plea, Davis has agreed to provide more details of the killings. The other man charged in the killings, Hector Rodriguez, 32, will go on trial next year.

In what police described as an “execution-style” killing, the two best friends were blindfolded and shot one at a time, in the back of the head.  Stewart, the Orlando Sentinel reports, died from the first bullet. Presha was shot two additional times in the face. After they were shot, the teens’ bodies were soaked in gasoline and set on fire.

According to the 200 pages of evidence released by police, Stewart and Presha were no longer allowed to spend time together after getting caught for driving a stolen car. The duo had a history of criminal mischief, including stealing items from unlocked cars.  Within the weeks before they were killed, Stewart and Presha are alleged to have obtained two guns in this way. One of these guns, investigators say, was used to kill them.

Presha, 16, (left,) and Stewart, 18, (right.) Facebook photo.

The night of his death, Presha, whose father is a former Sheriff’s Deputy and currently works as an investigator for the Orange County State Attorney’s office, stuffed his bed and sneaked out. He met Stewart at a Race Trac gas station, where the two had a habit of hanging out and asking adults to buy them beer. This time, they asked Hector Rodriguez. According to evidence pieced together using witness interviews and surveillance video, all four men went to Steak ‘n Shake to eat.  During the meal, Rodriguez allegedly later told police, the teens brought up the stolen guns they had and offered them for sale. Davis and Stewart drove to Stewart’s home to get one of the guns, and all four reconvened at Davis’ house. There, Davis and Rodriguez asked to see Stewart’s Manurhin semi-automatic pistol, stolen from a car in February, and Presha’s .40 caliber Glock, stolen a week before the murders.  As soon as they handed over the weapons, Davis and Rodriguez allegedly pointed them at the teens and ordered them to get down. When they refused, Davis fired into the air and pistol-whipped Stewart, causing his face to bleed. According to testimony by Davis’ girlfriend, who was woken up by the noise, the teens were laying naked, face-down on the floor, with their hands behind their backs. Investigators say Rodriguez and Davis then got Presha and Stewart into Davis’s vehicle and drove to a Citgo, where surveillance video taken at 5:48 a.m. shows Davis buying $5 in gas and looking nervously into his trunk. Within 20 minutes of that stop, the teens’ burning bodies were discovered by three bicyclists near Cady Way trail.

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