Man condemned for killings at birthday party

February 28, 2009 6:57:19 AM PST
A jury sentenced a man to death Friday for killing a 5-year-old girl and her grandmother at a child's birthday party. Jurors deliberated about seven hours over two days in deciding the punishment for Erick Davila, 21. He was convicted last week of fatally shooting Annette Stevenson, 48, and her granddaughter, Queshawn Stevenson, at the woman's home during a birthday party for another grandchild.

A dark car pulled up and a man got out and began firing at the corner tan-and-brick duplex decorated with a "Happy Birthday" banner and balloons, authorities said.

The elder Stevenson was shot as she threw herself over several youngsters to shield them, neighbors said. Four other people also were wounded in the April 6 shooting.

Prosecutors said Davila, who is charged with another murder and an armed robbery in the days before the birthday party shooting, poses a continuing threat to society. They also said that while jailed awaiting trial in the Stevenson case, Davila and two other inmates attacked and injured two jailers and two maintenance workers during an escape attempt.

Defense attorneys acknowledged that Davila had committed violent crimes but pleaded with jurors to consider mitigating factors and sentence him to life in prison.

Davila's attorney Joetta Keene said it was no surprise that he joined a gang and committed crimes because his mother could not bond with him, he had a low IQ, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and grew up in a poor, crime-ridden neighborhood.

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