FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, February 17, 2012
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District Man Sentenced to 45 Years to Life in Prison
For the 1999 Killing of His Estranged Wife
- Prosecution Followed a Renewed Investigation of the Crime -
WASHINGTON - Lawrence Davis, 47, was sentenced today to a prison term of 45 years to life for first degree premeditated murder while armed in the March 1999 stabbing of his estranged wife, the mother of three of his sons, announced U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. and Cathy L. Lanier, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).
Davis, of Washington, D.C., was convicted by a jury in November 2011, following a trial in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. He was sentenced by the Honorable William M. Jackson.
According to the government’s evidence at trial, during the last six months of her life, the victim, Elizabeth Patrice Singleton, 32, sought and received both civil protection and stay-away orders against Davis, who had attempted to reconcile with her after he spent six years in prison. During this period, Davis violated the protection provisions of both orders by beating Ms. Singleton in September 1998, holding her at gunpoint and raping her in December 1998, threatening to kill her in December 1998, and harassing her in January and February of 1999.
On the morning of March 1, 1999, after dropping two of the Davis/Singleton children off at school, Davis returned to Ms. Singleton’s home in the 1700 block of A Street SE with their six-year-old son. As the child sat in the car outside, able to hear everything transpiring in the house, Davis entered the home and attacked Ms. Singleton immediately inside the front door.
Ms. Singleton died shortly thereafter as a result of more than a dozen stab wounds to her heart, lungs, and back.
Despite strong evidence of motive, the case, resting on the shoulders of the six-year old child witness, went cold for 12 years until an eyewitness came forward. The eyewitness knew Davis and saw him in the front yard of the Singleton home at the time of the murder. During the intervening years, the FBI had continued working on forensic evidence in the case and was able to develop a partial DNA profile, consistent with that of the defendant, from blood recovered from under the victim’s fingernails.
Davis’s conviction was the latest in a series of successful prosecutions by the U.S. Attorney’s Office of older homicide cases. In the past three years, working with MPD and other law enforcement partners, the office has obtained convictions in more than 10 cases in which the murder took place at least eight years earlier. In 2010, U.S. Attorney Machen created a Cold Case Unit to prosecute these older homicide cases.
“For more than a decade, Lawrence Davis thought he had gotten away with murder,” said U.S. Attorney Machen. “Today’s prison sentence of 45 years to life finally holds him to account for his terrible crime. This prosecution shows that with grit, persistence, and unwavering focus we can obtain justice for victims even after many years have passed.”
“Hopefully, the defendant will spend every day for the next 45 years thinking about the unimaginable pain that he brought to this family,” said Chief Lanier.
In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Machen and Chief Lanier commended the efforts of Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Detectives Jeffrey Owens and Jeffrey Williams, who revived the investigation and continued to investigate it through MPD’s initiative to solve cold cases. They also commended the work of retired MPD Officer Sabrina Green; retired Mobile Crime Technician Gerald Wills; Mobile Crime Technicians Jay Gregory, John Holder, James Holder, and Kemper Agee, and current MPD Officers Kim Miller, Frederick Lee, and Michael Smith. In addition, they praised the work of former Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Fitzpatrick, former Victim Witness Advocate Nicole Gaskin, and former Child Advocate Jacqueline O’Reilly.
U.S. Attorney Machen and Chief Lanier also extended appreciation to current and former members of the FBI for their work on forensic evidence. In addition, they acknowledged the efforts of Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Marie-Lydie Y. Pierre-Louis, who conducted the autopsy in 1999 and testified at trial, as well as Paralegals Debra Joyner, Jason Manuel, and Lynita Green, Victim/Witness Advocate Tamara Ince, Litigation Support Specialist Thomas Royal, who assisted with trial preparation, and Intelligence Specialist Lawrence Grasso. Finally, they praised the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Sharon Donovan, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Haines, of the Cold Case Unit, who indicted the case and prosecuted it as a team at trial.