Florida Supreme Court upholds Davidson’s death sentence
TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Supreme Court unanimously upheld the conviction and death penalty sentence on July 8 of a man who raped and killed a Middleburg mother and raped her 10-year-old daughter.
Donald Hugh Davidson Jr. will remain on Death Row after pleading guilty of nine crimes, including first-degree premeditated murder, and being sentenced to die by Clay County Judge Don Lester on Nov. 13, 2019.
Details of Davidson’s depraved crimes on Dec. 1, 2014, were outlined in a 26-page decision, including the fact the registered sex offender was released from prison 72 days before he cut off his ankle monitor, entered 37-year-old Roseann Kasama Welch’s home before trying to rape her. When her daughter came home from school, Davidson strangled Welch with a shoelace and stabbed her three times in the throat with a buck knife.
He then raped and kidnapped the daughter before being caught in Welch’s mini-van a day later on Blanding Boulevard. He detailed the crimes during a three-hour interrogation by the Clay County Sheriff’s Office, telling them “I did what I did.”
Davidson pled guilty knowing only two sentences were available – life without parole or death.
Attorneys argued Davidson didn’t have knowledge or understanding of the charges against him, including the “consequences of pleading guilty.” They also argued by forgoing a jury trial, Davidson wasn’t able to “call and confront witnesses and the right to remain silent.”
Davidson didn’t refute the evidence against him.
The justices said, “However, where a defendant pleads guilty and waives a jury trial, the relevant inquiry is not whether there was competent, substantial evidence, but whether the defendant knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily entered the guilty plea.”
The Court then concluded “the evidence of guilt was overwhelming as detailed in the factual basis given by the prosecutor. Thus, we conclude that Davidson’s guilty plea was voluntarily and knowingly given.”
GCS man indicted for trying to entice 9-year-old for sex
JACKSONVILLE – Acting U.S. Attorney Karin Hoppmann announced today that Garrett Eric Weber, 30, of Green Cove Springs, was arrested and indicted by a federal grand jury for attempting to entice a 9-year-old child to engage in sexual activity, and for soliciting and distributing child sexual abuse videos using the internet. If convicted on all charges, Weber faces a minimum mandatory penalty of 15 years, and up to life, in federal prison, a $1 million fine, and a potential life term of supervised release. Weber was arrested on a federal warrant by the Green Cove Springs Police Department during a traffic stop on July 5, 2021. He was detained without bond on July 7.
According to court documents and evidence proffered at Weber’s detention hearing, in June 2020, Weber, using the name “BUBBLESXD_90,” uploaded an image depicting the sexual abuse of a child to a chat group on a popular social media application. A further investigation ultimately resulted in the identification of Weber.
Beginning in March 2021, an undercover FBI agent, posing as the parent of a young child, engaged in an online conversation with Weber using the app.
After some discussion and being told that the “child” was only nine years old, Weber offered to serve as the “child’s” trainer by engaging in sexual activity with the “child.” He requested that the “parent” take an explicit photo of the “child” for him, and he provided specific instructions on how to accomplish this through various means. On at least seven occasions, Weber sent the “parent” videos over the internet that depicted the sexual abuse of young children in an effort to demonstrate exactly how he planned to molest the “child.”
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.
This case was investigated by the Green Cove Springs Police Department, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Winnebago County, Wisconsin Sheriff’s Office, the Clay County Sheriff’s Office, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Milwaukee and Jacksonville, with assistance from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. It is being prosecuted by Asst. U.S. Attorney D. Rodney Brown.
It is another case brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.
Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.
Judge: Jury will decide if
Orange Park man’s gun parts were illegal
JACKSONVILLE – A judge refused to dismiss a 14-count indictment for an Orange Park man who was charged with mailing more than 1,200 devices that turned rifles into machine guns.
Kristopher Justinboyer Ervin, 41, hoped to convince U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard the devices weren’t originally manufactured as gun parts, so shouldn’t be charged with any crimes.
Howard said it would be up to a jury to decide.
The credit card-sized metal strips were sold as AutoKeyCards. The company said they were bottle openers that sold for $109, but they primarily were used as a conversion device after buyers cut the design from the card to create a lightning link that transforms semiautomatic rifles into fully automatic rifles.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service got a warrant from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Middle District of Florida to seize the websites www.autokeycards.com and www.autokeycard.com.
Ervin faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of all 14 charges, including not reporting more than $68,000 in sales.
On Feb. 22, ATF agents watched Ervin deliver 22 packages to an Orange Park post office. Agents used a warrant to search the packages, and they contained auto-etched key cards.
Erbin was arrested in nearby Columbia County on March 2, and he’s been held without bond since.
His trial has been rescheduled for October.
CCSO: Jacksonville man caught with hundreds of child porn photos
GREEN COVE SPRINGS – A Jacksonville man was arrested after he was caught with hundreds of photographs of children having sex.
Kyle Preston Reece, 37, was charged on July 12 on 20 counts of possessing more than 10 images of obscene material.
Reece was arrested following an extensive investigation by the Clay County Sheriff’s Office Internet Crimes Against Children Unit and the Digital Forensics Unit. After detectives obtained an arrest warrant, they met with officers with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and arrested Reece.
If anyone has additional information about Reece, please contact Sergeant Garrison with the CCSO Human Exploitation Group at (904) 264-6512.
Reece’s bond was set at $500,060.
St. Augustine man jailed
following deadly 2020 DUI crash
GREEN COVE SPRINGS – A man involved in a deadly crash nearly 11 months ago was arrested July 6 and charged with a variety of driving under the influence charges.
William Dozia Smith III, 33, of St. Augustine, was in the Clay County Jail after being charged with two counts of DUI manslaughter, DUI and three counts of DUI resulting in property damage.
According to the Clay County Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Highway Patrol, Smith was driving west on State Road 16 on Aug. 10, 2020, when he veered from his lane and struck an eastbound car which then ran into another eastbound car. Wanda Jean Cubas-Wollen, 62, driver of the first car hit, died at the scene. Her husband, Ian Derek Wollen, 89, died on Aug. 18 at the Orange Park Medical Center. The Wollens were from Green Cove Springs. Smith appeared to be impaired at the scene, FHP said. After obtaining a warrant, deputies drew blood from Smith at OPMC. Results showed the presence of THC and Benzoylecgonine, the main metabolite of cocaine. Smith’s bond was set at $116,514.
Man re-captured two hours after escaping CCSO custody
ORANGE PARK – Clay County Jail inmate Dennis Russel Hansen was caught Monday night after he escaped from Clay County Sheriff’s Office custody while being treated in the Orange Park Medical Center. CCSO deputies transported Hansen to OPMC on July 10 for a preexisting injury.
While guarded by a deputy, Hansen, 42, was able to escape and head to the Blanding Boulevard area.
CCSO deputies and detectives and the Fugitive Task Force immediately responded and established a perimeter. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Air Unit and the Orange Park Police Department also responded. CCSO deputies apprehended Dennis Hansen shortly after he escaped.
Hansen was in the Clay County Jail after being arrested on July 8 on multiple non-violent charges including grand theft auto and dealing in stolen property. He now is additionally charged with escape and resisting without violence. Hansen was at large for approximately two hours before being apprehended.
“This is the first time in recent memory that we have had a subject in our custody escape from a medical facility while being treated,” Sheriff Michelle Cook said. “I take this very seriously, and an investigation as to what led to this lapse in security is already underway. We are actively reviewing our security protocols to see what adjustments need to be made. Any discipline, if warranted, will be issued once a thorough investigation is completed. The safety and security of our community are paramount. I want to thank the Orange Park Police Department and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office for their assistance in the quick apprehension of this escapee.”