Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Public safety

Wife killer accused in inmate's beating says he has no remorse

LAND O'LAKES — Seven years ago, Eric Davis murdered his wife. He fired all the bullets in his gun and then reloaded, shooting her two more times as she tried to open the door at their home in Safety Harbor. While in jail, he wrote a letter to a friend describing how he enjoyed seeing photos of his wife at the murder scene.

"I'm not sorry for killing my wife, and I loved her," Davis told the Tampa Bay Times from the Pasco County jail on Thursday. Being in prison for the past seven years, he said, has made him "comfortably numb.''

But last year, when a fellow inmate at the Zephyrhills state prison told him about "doing stuff to a child," Davis said, he flew into a rage. It was about the same time as his daughter's ninth birthday.

"I just lost it," said Davis, 34, explaining why he slammed 54-year-old Joe Hayes' head against the floor and beat him with his bare fists so hard that his own right hand was bruised and swollen.

"He's a pig," Davis said of Hayes. "I can't stand pedophiles."

Hayes died April 21, 2012, at Lakeland Regional Hospital from what the Polk County medical examiner said was blunt force trauma. Authorities charged Davis this week with second-degree murder. For the past year, the Florida Department of Corrections would not release details about the circumstances surrounding Hayes' death. The agency has declined public records requests from the Times.

Davis told the Times he suffers from bipolar and antisocial disorders and rapid mood swings. At the prison, he lived with three cellmates, including Hayes, who was serving a 99-year sentence for a series of burglaries and rapes in Charlotte County in 1980. No records were available to determine whether the crimes involved children.

"Joe was weird," Davis recalled. He said Hayes made crude comments to prison nurses and waved his arms for no apparent reason. He said he tore all his mail into tiny pieces and flushed them down the toilet.

The night Hayes died, Davis, a former nightclub disc jockey, said he was walking around his cell listening to the radio when Hayes made a comment about acts he committed on a child.

"I told him to shut up, but he didn't want to shut up," Davis said. "I kind of lost my cool."

He said he can't remember all the details, but recalled slamming Hayes' head into the floor as his cellmates watched in shock. He said Hayes kept saying, "Why? Why are you doing this?" He can't say for sure, but he thinks Hayes pleaded for his life. He can't recall whether Hayes, who was 20 pounds lighter and 20 years older than Davis, fought back.

Later, after Davis went to bed, an officer came by and noticed Hayes lying on the floor.

"I told him he fell down," Davis said. The officer pointed to the surveillance camera and said it would be reviewed.

"I told him to go ahead and check it out," said Davis, who said he thought the camera wasn't working because previous things he had done had gone unpunished.

By midnight, he said, officers took him and his two other cellmates and moved them to separate shower areas because the cell had become a crime scene. By about 4 a.m. Davis said he was taken to prison in Raiford.

"I wasn't trying to kill him," Davis said.

He said he has no remorse. He has exhausted all his appeals in his wife's murder, so he expects to die in prison. He said he wishes he could just be put on death row.

"I guess you could say I just don't care," he said. "I'm stuck with a life sentence. What are they going to do to me?"

Comments
Safety Harbor fire chief departs: ‘Take pride in the job’

Safety Harbor fire chief departs: ‘Take pride in the job’

SAFETY HARBOR — When Fire Chief Joe Accetta started working at the Safety Harbor Fire Department, Fire Station 53 was a double wide in the middle of a field now home to Mease Countryside Hospital.Now almost four decades of challenges and promotions l...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Deputies search for suspects in rapper XXXTentacion slaying

Deputies search for suspects in rapper XXXTentacion slaying

DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. — Deputies were searching for suspects Tuesday after troubled rapper-singer XXXTentacion was fatally shot in the driver’s seat of a luxury electric sports car. The 20-year-old rising star, who pronounced his stage name "Ex Ex Ex...
Updated: 1 hour ago
New Port Richey man faces sexual battery charges

New Port Richey man faces sexual battery charges

NEW PORT RICHEY — A New Port Richey man was arrested Monday and faces sexual battery charges after deputies said he sexually assaulted a 10-year-old girl.Jonathan Wells, 33, would take the victim into his bedroom and undress her, kiss her face and ne...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Lakeland father, girlfriend face charges in death of 6-year-old girl

Lakeland father, girlfriend face charges in death of 6-year-old girl

A Lakeland man and his girlfriend face charges of first-degree murder and aggravated manslaughter in the death of his 6-year-old daughter last week.Larry Lewis Golden Jr., 26, Breonna B. Wren, 21, were arrested Friday and are being held without bail ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Argument over dog leads to fatal shooting in Polk County

Argument over dog leads to fatal shooting in Polk County

A Fort Meade man was killed Monday night and two others were wounded after Polk County deputies say they approached a man while searching for a lost dog.The shooting occurred around 6:45 p.m. at the home of suspected shooter Charles Peddycoart, at 41...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Deadly Sunday for swimmers in bay area waters

Deadly Sunday for swimmers in bay area waters

Two people drowned and another suffered life-threatening injuries in the waters of Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday.Investigators said all three cases appear to be accidents, but the incidents stand as a reminder that summer, with vacation ...
Published: 06/18/18
Pinellas deputies arrest Mississippi man 31 years after sexual battery

Pinellas deputies arrest Mississippi man 31 years after sexual battery

SEMINOLE — She was 22 when deputies said a man forced her at knifepoint into the woods off Seminole Boulevard and sexually battered her in February 1987.The case went cold, but now the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said it has arrested the man it ...
Published: 06/18/18
Tampa police seek driver who struck pedestrian and drove off

Tampa police seek driver who struck pedestrian and drove off

TAMPA — Police are seeking the public’s help in locating the driver who fatally struck a pedestrian on Sunday night and then drove off.The incident took place at 9:15 p.m. near the intersection of N Nebraska Avenue and E Linebaugh Avenue.No details a...
Published: 06/18/18
St. Petersburg teen, seven months pregnant, dies in Pasco crash

St. Petersburg teen, seven months pregnant, dies in Pasco crash

HUDSON — A 16-year-old St. Petersburg teen who was seven months pregnant was fatally injured in a crash Sunday night, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.The incident took place at 9:11 p.m. on Little Road south of Hudson Avenue. The teen, Emily ...
Published: 06/18/18
Tampa man rescued from near drowning in waters off Whiskey Joe’s

Tampa man rescued from near drowning in waters off Whiskey Joe’s

A Tampa man was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries on Sunday after he was rescued from a near drowning off the shores of Whiskey Joe’s Tampa Bar & Grill, a popular hangout on the beach of the Courtney Campbell Causeway.When police officers a...
Published: 06/18/18