A state appeals court ruled today that an East Bay woman accused of smothering two of her infants in different counties can be tried for both alleged murders in a single trial in Contra Costa County.
Lavida Davis, 27, is accused of smothering her 3-week-old son Emmanuel Beals in Oakland in February 2004 and her 6-week-old son Darion Johnson in San Pablo on Sept. 17, 2006.
San Pablo police said after Davis was arrested on Sept. 21, 2006, that she had allegedly admitted to smothering the infants.
Davis was indicted by a Contra Costa County grand jury on two counts of first-degree murder, with a multiple-murder special circumstance that could make her eligible for a death penalty if convicted.
She argued in a pretrial motion that she should have separate trials in Contra Costa and Alameda counties.
But a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeal in San Francisco said Davis’ case fell within the terms of a state law allowing a single trial for murders “connected together in their commission.”
The court said the alleged murders were connected by similarity of victims, motivation and method.
Justice James Richman wrote, “The grand jury had evidence that both victims were infants, smothered to death because defendant could not deal with their crying.”
Richman added, “Indeed, defendant herself described both killings as involving the ‘same situation.'”
The investigation of Davis began after an employee at Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo notified police on Sept. 17, 2006, that a woman had brought a dead baby to the emergency room.
Police said in 2006 that Davis’ son Darion had a twin brother, who was taken into protective custody. Officers said Davis had been homeless for a period of time before a San Pablo resident took in Davis and the twins.