By Ed Brock
A mother and daughter have entered pleas on charges that they gave false information to GBI agents regarding the investigation of a shooting that killed a 4-year-old Riverdale boy last year.
However, the plea they entered, while essentially a guilty plea, is made in such a way that they do not admit guilt.
Lawanna Davis, 43, Riverdale and her daughter 24-year-old Natasha Anthony of Lithonia supposedly made the statements last June regarding the whereabouts of Terry Davis, Lawanna Davis' son and the prime suspect in the June 6, 2004 gang shootout that left young Travon Wilson dead.
“Each said Terry was at his mother's house (on the day of the shooting),” said Clayton County Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney John Turner. “Of course that was a lie. We had numerous witnesses who could put him there at the park (where the shooting occurred.)”
That park, on Church Street in Riverdale, is now named after Wilson. At this time 18 suspects have been indicted in the case but Turner said they expect more pleas to be forthcoming.
Both women will receive two years probation and a $300 fine, Turner said. They were given first offender status, which means if they complete their probation successfully their records will be expunged.
“You're talking about two people who didn't have a previous criminal record,” Turner said.
Davis and Anthony requested the plea, called an “Alford plea,” named after the 1970 case North Carolina v. Alford, and the District Attorney's Office did not object because the two women had no criminal record.
Unlike a regular guilty plea, the women are allowed to enter the plea without stipulating that they are, in fact, guilty. They only enter the plea because it appears that there is enough evidence to lead to a conviction, Turner said.
Davis' attorney Pandora Hunt declined to comment on whether her client still maintained that her son was with her on the day of the shooting.
They entered the plea because of the pressure the state was putting on Davis, Hunt said.
“What we were worried about was that the state would try to prosecute the murder case through her trial,” Hunt said.
Anthony's lawyer Jackie Patterson said his client is maintaining that she did not give false statements to the GBI.
“She still maintains her innocence,” Patterson said. “She was facing five years in prison if she got convicted. We believe she would have been exonerated but there was still a 50 percent chance that she would get convicted.”
Turner said that by Friday he expects Rico West, 18, of College Park to plead guilty to concealing firearms that were connected to the shooting. He also expects Mark Hunter, 20, of Conyers, one of the defendants charged with murder, aggravated assault and possession of a weapon in the commission of a crime, to enter a plea as well.
“He is going to testify for us,” Turner said.
In exchange for his testimony, Hunter would be allowed to plead guilty to conspiracy and possession of a weapon in the commission of a crime and could receive three years of probation and a $300 fine.
Hunter is believed to be in the larger group involved in the shootout, the Southside Mafia, of which Terry Davis is believed to have been the leader. On the day of the shootout, according to testimony from Riverdale police detectives and GBI agents investigating the case, two members of a rival gang called the Hit Squad went to the park to talk about a fight.
The alleged Hit Squad members, 22-year-old Deontrez Williams of Fayetteville and 16-year-old Xavious Cerdera Taylor, came under fire from the larger group. A bullet from the exchange hit Wilson as he was riding his bicycle with his grandmother nearby.
Turner said a court date could be set in the case by mid-November.