Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Desire Terrorist

The Death Sentence

On Friday, April 26, just two days after announcing its guilty verdict for Davis and Hardy, the jury sentenced Davis to death. It became the first death sentence in American history handed down under a modified federal code permitting the death penalty in civil rights cases. Arguing passionately for the death sentence, McMahon told jurors, "Life in prison is too good for him (Davis); he deserves to die for what he did." Buttressing these arguments was Georges, who asked, "What more does someone have to do to deserve the highest penalty the law provides?"

On May 2, in a separate sentencing trial, the jury also passed down a death sentence for Hardy. Defense attempts to portray him as a caring family man who provided for his children, bought groceries for the poor, donated sneakers to neighborhood youngsters and regularly took his children to church all fell on deaf ears.

As did efforts to make Hardy into a sympathetic victim of his environment who routinely witnessed death, violence and drug abuse while growing up in the B.W. Cooper housing project.

Coincidentally, on the day before Hardy's sentencing, the head of PANO announced that their longtime treasurer had embezzled about $230,000 from the union's treasury over a six-year period. A month later, also in Federal District Court, he pled guilty to two counts of forgery and was later sentenced to 21 months in federal prison. He was also ordered to repay the union more than $185,000.

The day after Hardy's sentencing, the FBI used some of the same tapes to bust a violent drug ring in the same area of the city where Hardy and his gang operated. Fourteen people, including the alleged ringleader, Billy Lampton, were nailed and taken into custody. Lampton was allegedly heard on tape threatening death to those who crossed him. Some of the most menacing of his threats, as quoted in that day's Times-Picayune, painted a grim picture of the prevailing lawlessness of that time.

In the months to come, the seven officers accused along with Davis of participating in the drug ring pled guilty and received sentences ranging from five to eight years in prison. They were Bryant "Brinky" Brown (eight years); Adam Dees, Sheldon Polk, Carlos Rodriguez, Edward "Peanut" Williams and Keith Johnson (seven years each); and Christopher Evans (five years).

When his trial for drug-running opened on September 10, Davis stood alone. His former partner, Sammie Williams, once again delivered some of the most incriminating testimony against him. Williams's testimony was largely corroborated by tapes of their conversations which had Davis bragging about spending the money he was getting for the operation. Williams testified that he and Davis received close to $100,000 from Juan Jackson, much of which Davis spent on a clothes-shopping spree at one of the city's most prestigious men's shops. Steve Jackson also testified against Davis.

Davis's new attorney, Patrick Fanning, tried to convince the jury that Davis was running his own clandestine investigation of drug dealing but his arguments failed to sway the jury. McMahon countered that Davis "produced nothing, not one evidence card, not one tape," that proved he was carrying on this undercover investigation. Only one witness was called for the defense, Terry Adams, who had originally recruited Williams, but his testimony did nothing to exonerate Davis.

On September 13, the jury took only 40 minutes to return a guilty verdict against Davis on the drug charges. Several months later he was sentenced to 15 years in prison, to go with the death sentence already handed down in the Groves case five months earlier.

Following his refusal to accept the U.S. Attorney's office's offer of a deal, Causey was sentenced to life imprisonment on November 27.

In early 1997, Davis and Hardy were shipped off to Death Row in a federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, where the government's lethal injection apparatus was set up. However, years of appeals still lay ahead.

In August 1999, following a long series of appeals, Davis's sentence was commuted from death to life imprisonment. Five years later, though, the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the lower court order and restored the death sentence. Davis remains in federal prison in Terre Haute and more appeals are expected.

On August 26, 1998, Sammie Williams was sentenced to five years in prison. His sentence was 30 months for participating in a drug conspiracy and 30 months for using a gun while dealing drugs. During sentencing, U.S. District Court Judge Martin Feldman told Williams, "You have irrevocably stained the uniform you once wore," but he praised and thanked Williams for his testimony that helped convict Davis and Hardy.

In August 1997, the final chapter of the sordid police saga was wrapped up when Leon Duncan, Darrel Jones and Lemmie Rodgers were indicted for their part in escorting the cocaine shipments under Davis's and Williams's supervision. Duncan and Jones were convicted and Duncan appealed his conviction on September 29, 1999.

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