April Dawn Davis might have had second thoughts about hiring a hitman to kill her ex-boyfriend, but Judge Arthur B. Vieregg Jr. said she could have ended up charged with murder.
Vieregg convicted Davis, 27 of Fairfax, of solicitation to commit murder on Wednesday, March 29. Davis, currently jailed at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center, faces five to 40 years in prison when she is sentenced in May in Fairfax County Circuit Court.
Thinking she was paying a hitman, Davis gave an undercover police detective $34 on Nov. 30, 2005 as a down payment to have her ex-boyfriend killed. She promised to give the detective $700 the next week.
“I want him dead, gone,” she told Detective L.G. Durden, who taped two conversations he had with Davis in his automobile last November.
“I appreciate everything you’re doing,” she said. “Thank you so much,” she said.
“You’re welcome, April,” the detective replied.
<b>DAVIS MET</b> her ex-boyfriend Joseph D. Wells over the Internet. They chatted over the computer for nearly four months, he testified during the three-hour trial last Wednesday.
During Wells’ testimony, Davis cried.
In May 2005, Davis purchased an American Airlines ticket for him to move from Cleburne, Texas to Fairfax to live with Davis and her grandmother.
Davis’ grandmother co-signed a $15,000 auto loan so Wells could buy a car. Davis paid his car insurance and for all their activities in bowling alleys, bars and restaurants, according to his testimony and court records.
By October, Wells moved out and began dating another woman shortly after, he testified.
Davis told the detective she was tired of being hurt.
“I just want this taken care of, you know what I mean?” Davis told detective Durden when they first met on Nov. 15, 2005. “He screwed my grandmother out of $15,000 and me out of $4,000.”
“Everybody said, ‘If I was you, I’d get rid of him,’” she told the detective.
<b>THE DETECTIVE</b> first met with Davis on Nov. 15, 2005 and, again, on Nov. 30, 2005.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Marc Birnbaum played both taped conversations during Davis’ trial.
The detective told Davis it would cost her “five” up front and “15” after the “murder” to have her boyfriend killed.
“You have to convince me that you want this guy killed because the last thing I need is for you to have a heavy heart,” he said. He told Davis he didn’t want to commit the “murder” and then have her regret what she planned and tell police he was to blame.
“I wouldn’t do that to you,” she said. “I’m very serious.”
“Does he have any idea you want him dead,” asked the officer.
“No, no idea,” she said.
Davis then gave the detective details of the bowling alley where her ex-boyfriend worked and the door he was most likely to exit after he finished his shift.
“I want it done, the sooner the better,” she said.
The detective told her that if he walked out with another person that person was going to have to be killed, too.
“That’s fine,” Davis said.
The detective warned Davis, “I’m going to have to shoot him.”
He asked if Davis wanted Polaroid photos or a memento of the murder.
“[A] Polaroid would be fine,” she said.
<b>POLICE LEARNED</b> of Davis’ plans when a former inmate, Jonathan Chambers, warned Detective Durden that Davis wanted her ex-boyfriend killed.
Davis had friends in the Fairfax Adult Detention Center, and she told at least one of them she wanted her ex-boyfriend killed, according to testimony.
Chambers, a former inmate, overheard one of the conversations Davis was having with an inmate. He got on the phone with her.
“I thought it was a joke at first,” Chambers testified Wednesday.
But when he realized Davis was serious, he testified he told authorities. “If she met the wrong person, she would have someone do it,” he said.
Davis’ defense attorney T. Scott Brisendine crossed examined Chambers during the trial. “You knew you would get something out of it?” said Brisendine.
“Yes, that was the agreement,” said Chambers.
Chambers faced eight felonies, but after his cooperation with authorities on the case, the charges against him were reduced to two misdemeanors. Six counts were nolle prossed, not prosecuted at this time, according to court records.
<b>DEFENSE ATTORNEY</b> Brisendine described Davis as a woman with bipolar disorder who answered a series of leading questions from the detective. He also suggested that Davis eventually tried to get out of the arrangement by not answering phone calls from the detective before their arranged third meeting.
During opening arguments of the trial, Brisendine asked, “Is the evidence commanding” or is it the reflection of “a sad situation taken to the extreme?”
Davis told Durden she was in debt and that was the reason she didn’t return his calls, he testified.
Detective Durden testified that police planned to arrest her once she gave the promised $700 to the detective during their third meeting. Instead they arrested her at the Lone Star Steakhouse on Fairfax Boulevard, where she worked on Dec. 2. Davis confirmed that she wanted Wells killed, Durden testified. “I’m such a bad person,” she said after her arrest, he testified.
Prosecutor Birnbaum said there’s not much in doubt in the case, including the fact that Davis was treated poorly by men who supposedly cared for her.
But on the taped encounters with the detective, “It’s clear what she wants done,” he said.