Dallas County case shows rise of cellphone data as prosecutors’ tool

By Jennifer Emily, Dallas Morning News

When a Dallas County jury sent Franklin Davis to death row for killing 16-year-old Shania Gray to stop her from testifying that he had raped her, the best evidence of his guilt, prosecutors said, came from his and his victim’s cellphones. Davis had tried to destroy them — and the information they contained — by throwing them in separate ponds.

“Nobody knows you as well as your cellphone does,” said prosecutor Brandon Birmingham. “They’re almost like your clone. You’re revealing your mind through your cellphone.”

Police have long been able to determine suspects’ locations at the time of a crime by identifying what cellphone towers they were near then. Read More

Franklin Davis guilty of capital murder in death of 16-year-old Shania Gray

By Jennifer Emily, Dallas Morning News

Update: Jurors this afternoon found Franklin Davis guilty of capital murder, making him eligible for the death penalty. The family of Shania Gray, Davis’ 16-year-old victim, sobbed quietly after state District Judge Mike Snipes read the verdict. Davis’ family left afterward.

The punishment phase will begin immediately.

Update: The jury is breaking for lunch until 12:45. They have sent notes asking to see specific exhibits, including a recording Davis made while talking to Shania when he pretended to be a man named “D.” They also asked to see the prosecution’s PowerPoint presentation that shows texts back and forth between Davis and Shania.

They will receive those items.

They also asked for a transcript of a video. They cannot have the transcript because it was not entered into evidence.

Original post 11:01 a.m.: A Dallas County jury is deliberating whether to find Franklin Davis guilty of murder or capital murder in the death of a 16-year-old girlwho accused him of rape.

Davis admitted to killing Shania Gray at an Irving park by shooting her twice and stepping in her throat in September 2012 — a month before she was expected to testify against him. If the jury finds Davis guilty of capital murder, prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. To do so, jurors would have to believe Davis killed Gray to prevent her testimony.

Prosecutors Brandon Birmingham, Russell Wilson, Glen Fitzmartin and Hector Garza said that is exactly what Davis did. They told jurors in closing arguments that Shania, who told police Davis raped her she was babysitting his kids when she was 14 — never got a chance to take the witness stand and tell her story.

“You get to speak for Shania Gray even though the life was choked outof her by Franklin Davis,” Birmingham said.

But defense attorneys Karo Johnson, Phillip Hayes, Brady Wyatt and Doug Parks said Davis killed Shania because she ruined his life, not to prevent her testimony. Johnson told jurors prosecutors didn’t prove their case.

“They do the accuisn’. They gotta do the provin’,” Johnson said. Prosecutor Russell Wilson called Davis a “child molester” and said there is no doubt Davis killed Shania to prevent her testimony.

“You know it, I know it and he knows it,” Wilson told jurors. But Hayes said Davis’ actions “show a guy preparing for trial.” He said that law enforcement did not properly investigate the allegations and so Davis took it upon himself to look into them.

Davis called Shania pretending to be someone else and asked her about the alleged rapes. He also sent himself fake texts denying that allegations that appeared to come from Shania’s phone.

The day Shania was killed, she believed she was meeting the man she had been talking to on the phone. Instead, Davis showed up at her school in Carrollton.

Read the Full Article Here


Victim Testifies In 18-Year-Old Fatal Home Invasion


Nearly 20 years after her grandmother was murdered, Melania Tyler, now 30-years-old, testified Tuesday about the night two masked men stormed into her home and shot and injured her and her two younger brothers before killing her grandmother.

Clarence Bailey, 40, is on trial for Capital Murder.

In 2007, Dedrick Jones was convicted in connection with the murder of 79-year-old Elma Mae Adkins. On Tuesday, the jury heard a 911 call recorded in the moments after the home invasion. Read More

Trial for ’92 slaying to rehash nightmare Austinite can’t forget

Melania Tyler was 12 years old in 1992 when two masked gunmen broke down the door of her family’s Dallas-area house, fatally shot her grandmother, then shot her and her two younger brothers, who survived.

“I remember everything, down to the last detail. It sucks,” said Tyler, an Austin mother and school photographer. “It plays in my dreams on a regular basis.” Read More