Davis, Saltzman found guilty of second-degree murder

By By Taylor Prejean / American Press

Jurors in the second-degree murder trial of Robyn Little Davis and Carol Noland Saltzman on Thursday found the two women guilty of

second-degree murder after three hours of deliberation.

Davis and Saltzman, who were out on bond, were taken into custody following the verdict. Second-degree murder carries

a mandatory penalty of life in prison without parole.

Judge David Ritchie said they will be sentenced on June 22.

Before closing arguments began Thursday, the defendants moved to have the responsive verdicts removed from the verdict sheet.

Jurors normally have the option to convict a defendant on the

original charge, or any number of lesser offenses, called responsive

verdicts.

Responsive verdicts for second-degree murder include manslaughter and negligent homicide.

Ritchie asked the defendants if they understand that jurors sometimes convict defendants on a lesser offense, which could

carry a shorter sentence. Manslaughter carries a maximum of 40 years in prison, and negligent homicide carries a maximum of

five years in prison.

Both defendants told Judge David Ritchie that they wanted the lesser offenses removed from the verdict sheet.

Closing arguments by prosecution

Prosecutor Rick Bryant said that even though the case was circumstantial, the evidence clearly showed that Davis and Saltzman

are responsible for murdering Davis’ husband, Brian on June 29, 2009.

Bryant said that while the amount of evidence presented to jurors in the case was ”overwhelming”, each fact was a piece of

the puzzle.

He said three factors -- Brian Davis’ extra-marital affairs, money and insurance policies -- could have been motives for murder.

Testimony revealed that Brian Davis had been seeing other women during the time he was with Robyn.

Bryant also said that Robyn Davis had been fired from her job for a few months, but continued to make large expenditures in

the months leading up to Brian’s death. Financial records offered during trial showed the Davis bank accounts were overdrawn,

but they continued to make large withdrawals at video poker establishments, Bryant said.

He said the nearly $645,000 in life insurance policies on Brian Davis also could have provided a motive, since Robyn was the

beneficiary of each one. He said Robyn Davis only told police about two of the four policies on Brian, even though she filed

a claim on one of the larger policies the day before her police interview.

"Look at these as reasons a person would want to hurt someone else," he said.

Bryant also pointed out inconsistencies in the women’s video-taped statements, portions of which he played for jurors during

closings.

He said the defendants' cell phone records show that not only did they lie about their whereabouts in those statements, but

they were in the vicinity of the murder scene around the time Brian was killed.

At the end of his argument, Bryant encouraged jurors to consider all the circumstantial evidence and use their common sense

to reach a verdict.

"Carol Saltzman is Robyn Davis' alibi, and Robyn Davis is Carol Saltzman's alibi," Bryant said. "Two women, one plan."

Closing arguments by defense

Robyn Davis’ defense attorney Glen Vamvoras told jurors that the state’s case was ”lacking in substance” and was not sufficient

to justify a conviction.

“No one should be casting judgment based on this investigation,” Vamvoras said.

He said crime scene investigators polluted the scene by mishandling evidence.

Brian Davis was found shot to death on July 1, 2009, on Wagon Wheel Lane. Davis' body was about 30 yards from his vehicle,

which was jacked up with the spare tire next to the front tire.

Vamvoras said crime scene photographs show footprints surrounding the Davis’ car, and the scene looked like a ”track meet”.

Investigators found ”nothing that points the criminal finger at these two women” at the scene, he said.

He said no murder weapon was ever recovered, and no valuable physical evidence was collected at the scene.

Prosecutors hung their hats on the testimony of their cell site

analysis expert, but such records should not be used to try

to pinpoint a cell phone user’s specific location, Vamvoras said. He

said FBI Special Agent William Shute’s report ”was replete

with bias and distortion.”

Shute told jurors Monday that he received the basic facts of the case

along with the cellphone records which he used to generate

his report. He claimed that he could place Davis within one-half to

five miles of the crime scene during the time investigators

believe Brian was murdered.

Vamvoras pointed out that defense communications expert John Minor said historical cell site analysis is not accurate enough

to place a person in a specific location.

Vamvoras also attacked lead detective, Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s deputy Brent Young, for lying in a report and failing to

follow up on a Crime Stoppers call.

He said there could be many other explanations for what happened to Brian, including a robbery gone wrong. Since the case

was based only on circumstantial evidence, prosecutors had to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt and exclude every

other reasonable hypothesis of innocence. Vamvoras said the state failed to meet the high burden.

Shane Hinch, counsel for Saltzman, also attacked Shute’s report claiming that he made the report accommodate the state’s theory

of the case.

“He used his conclusions to justify the data, not the data to justify his conclusions,” Hinch said.

Hinch also criticized law enforcement for failing to “exhaust every

avenue” in the investigation and “zeroing in” on Davis

and Saltzman. He said Young should have pursued the Crime Stoppers

call to at least see if the caller had any valuable information

about the case.

The caller testified on Wednesday, and said he noticed a red truck parked down Wagon Wheel Lane the day before Davis was found

dead. He said detectives never contacted him to follow up on the call.

Hinch said the state never showed any reason why Saltzman would have motive to kill Davis, other than being Robyn Davis’ friend.