Accused killer Davison takes stand
CHAMBERLAIN — A man accused of killing a 26-year-old Mitchell woman testified Friday that he did not know he could refuse to talk to investigators at any time after his arrest, even after waiving his Miranda rights.
At a motions hearing Tuesday afternoon at the Brule County Courthouse in Chamberlain, Kent Davidson, wearing an orange prison jumpsuit and ankle restraints, took the stand for the first time since he was charged with the death of Crystal Schulz.
Davidson, 36, is accused of fatally shooting Schulz in the head with a shotgun on March 11. Schulz’s body was found March 14 in a shed at her mother’s residence in rural Chamberlain. Court documents allege that Davidson killed Schulz because she was ending their relationship. The two were engaged.
Davidson’s attorney, Clint Sargent, of Sioux Falls, has asked Judge Bruce Anderson to suppress statements Davidson made to law enforcement following his March 14 arrest, and in later interviews March 15, April 2 and April 5. Recordings of all four interviews were entered into evidence on Friday.
During his testimony Friday, Davidson claimed he did not understand his Miranda rights — specifically, that he could refuse to continue talking with investigators at any time during his interrogations.
“I always thought if you waived them once you couldn’t use them again,” he said.
Davidson was arrested following a standoff with law enforcement March 14 at an apartment in Sioux Falls after the state Attorney General’s Office asked for the public’s help in locating him for questioning regarding the investigation into Schulz’s death.
Davidson also claimed Friday that he thought he had to talk with investigators because of an agreement he made with Jim Larson, a crisis negotiator with the Sioux Falls Police Department.
Larson, who also testified Friday, said Davidson was not in custody during the standoff, and therefore was not advised of his Miranda rights at the time.
Larson said he talked Davidson out of suicide multiple times during the standoff.
In order to bring the situation to a peaceful end, Larson said he agreed to allow Davidson to surrender to law enforcement while still on the phone, to remain standing while being taken into custody. Larson said he never told Davidson that he did not have to speak with investigators after his arrest or that he could ask for an attorney.
Toby Russell, an agent with the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, testified Friday that Davidson was read his Miranda rights at the Sioux Falls Police Department approximately half an hour after the standoff ended. He agreed to waive his rights and speak with investigators, Russell said. Davidson claimed he felt required to speak to investigators following his arrest.
“If I was honest with Jim and he kept his word, I thought that I would have to talk to DCI,” he said.
During cross examination by Assistant Attorney General Bob Mayer, Davidson admitted that because of his criminal history, he has been read his Miranda rights at least 20 times. Prosecutors have accused Davidson of being a habitual offender because of five prior felony convictions on his record.
Agnes Clement, Schulz’s mother, left the courtroom in tears during Davidson’s testimony.
Judge Bruce Anderson did not immediately decide whether to suppress Davidson’s statements to law enforcement. Instead, both sides will file briefs and a decision will be issued at a later date.
Davidson is scheduled to stand trial in January.