Sacramento prosecutors have decided to seek a death penalty prosecution against Troy Davis, the parolee accused of breaking into a Land Park home in September and sexually assaulting and killing the homeowner, 61-year-old Kate Tibbitts.
Davis, 52, is being held without bail in the Sacramento County Main Jail on charges that include murder, rape, arson, burglary and intentional maiming of animals, counts that stem from Davis allegedly killing Tibbitts’ two dogs, Molly and Jenny, and setting fire to the 11th Avenue home.
When Davis was arrested in September following the slaying, prosecutors filed a special circumstance alleging he killed Tibbitts in the process of a burglary, and this month Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert’s office filed a “notice of intent to seek the death penalty” if he is convicted, according to court records.
Such decisions are rare in Sacramento, but have been made in cases involving particularly heinous crimes, including the successful death penalty prosecution of Luis Bracamontes after he killed a Sacramento County sheriff’s deputy and a Placer County sheriff’s detective during a 2014 rampage.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has suspended use of the death penalty, but prosecutors continue to pursue capital punishment cases in the event that his decision is overturned by a future administration.
The Tibbitts slaying sparked widespread outrage, partly because law enforcement officials say Davis should have been in custody at the time of the slaying.
Davis was charged June 22 in a vehicle theft case and arrested but then released before appearing before a judge, court records say. Court records give no explanation for his release, which came despite the fact that he had a criminal history of two felony strikes.
Davis has a criminal history in Sacramento and Santa Cruz counties dating back to 2013 that includes charges of resisting an officer, battery on an officer, possession of methamphetamine, threatening an officer, misdemeanor sexual battery and assault and battery.
After his release from the Sacramento jail in June, Davis disappeared until his arrest in September following Tibbitts’ slaying.
His next appearance in Sacramento Superior Court is scheduled for June 10.