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Slaying suspect has violent record

A man jailed in the killing of St. Petersburg physician Louis Alexander Davidson has been arrested seven times since 1990 on felony charges in South Florida, but has never spent a day in state prison.

Records in Broward and Dade counties show Robert Roy Gordon, 31, a Jamaican living in Miami, has been charged with crimes ranging from sexual battery on both a child and an adult to using a worthless check to buy merchandise.

But in each of the violent felonies like sexual battery, the case was dismissed when the victim refused to cooperate with prosecutors. In the two cases in which Gordon was convicted _ once for passing forged bills and once for possession of a felony amount of marijuana _ judges sentenced him to serve only short sentences in the county jail.

His most recent charge, in 1993 for dealing in stolen property, was scheduled to come to trial in two weeks. Broward State Attorney's Office records show Gordon posted $2,000 to a bail bondsmen last year to gain his freedom from jail.

Gordon is the only person now accused in a murder case that seems to get more complicated each day. Police spokesman Bill Doniel said the investigation is continuing, but he refused to say whether other arrests are expected.

The only apparent connection between Gordon and Davidson is that both came from Jamaica, but Doniel won't say whether that played a role in the murder or why police think Gordon would travel from Miami to kill a man he apparently didn't know.

And though she hasn't been charged or named as a suspect, Davidson's estranged wife, Denise, has hired prominent Tampa criminal defense attorney John Fitzgibbons to represent her.

"It's been a very difficult situation for both her and their daughter," Fitzgibbons said. "We've not been told that she was the subject of any investigation . . . I just think probably anybody is entitled to a lawyer whenever they feel they want one."

Fitzgibbons said Denise Davidson had nothing to do with her husband's death.

An arrest affidavit filed in Pinellas County accuses Gordon of attacking Davidson at about 10 a.m. Jan. 25 in the doctor's apartment at the Thunderbay complex in north St. Petersburg. Gordon beat Davidson on the head, then submerged him in a bathtub full of water, killing him, the affidavit says.

Gordon was caught after witnesses told police they had seen a man matching his description at a Tampa motel. Detectives found a pair of shoes and some bloody clothing at the motel. The shoes matched footprints left in Davidson's apartment, according to the arrest papers.

Friends and relatives of Davidson said Tuesday they had never heard of Gordon, who was arrested Monday night in Dade County and taken to the Pinellas County Jail.

"I have never heard his name," said Davidson's mother, Hyacinth, who lives in Miami.

Davidson, director of pediatric emergency medicine at St. Petersburg's Bayfront Medical Center, was going through a bitter divorce when he was killed. Denise Davidson had accused her husband in court papers of physically abusing her and their 8-year-old daughter. Davidson had denied the accusations.

Friends said that in the week before he was killed Davidson had decided to marry a nurse he had met at Bayfront. His girlfriend found Davidson dead when she went to visit him on the afternoon of Jan. 25.

Friends of Davidson said they were pleased that police were making progress in the case, but said they still had many questions about the murder.

"I think it's great that they made an arrest, but now I would like to know why he would have done this," said Victoria Decker, whose family were longtime friends of Davidson's. "It doesn't make any sense."