After initially balking at a plea deal that would have capped his prison sentence at 10 years, James M. Davis agreed to take it because he faced the possibility of being convicted at his trial on child molestation charges and getting a sentence twice as long.
Davis preyed on a 6-year-old girl and her older sister while they lived in Augusta and in the Atlanta area beginning in 2002 and lasting for three years, Assistant District Attorney John O’Neal said.
To spare the younger girl of the trauma of testifying before a jury, O’Neal said he was willing to negotiate a plea and placed a maximum of 10 years on any prison term. Davis balked Tuesday morning in Richmond County Superior Court, however. He took a deal in Cobb County because his attorney said he would serve only five years, Davis said. He was innocent and the victim lied, he said.
Faced with testimony from the sisters, though, and the possibility of a conviction and additional 20 years in prison, Davis took the deal Tuesday and pleaded guilty to child molestation.
“I am not lying,” the younger girl, now 17, said during a victim impact statement. “I want justice. I want to be heard. I want to be believed.”
She thanked the detectives and district attorney staffers for not giving up on the case.
“It’s been really hard,” her older sister, now 24, told the judge. “Hopefully, after today my sister and I can finally be normal for the first time.”
Davis was charged with child molestation in Richmond and Cobb counties. In 2010, he pleaded guilty in Cobb County and received a prison sentence of seven years, followed by eight years on probation for the crime he committed there.
When Davis was paroled this year, he was brought back to Augusta to face the charge here.
Chief Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet sentenced Davis to 10 years in prison.
O’Neal explained after court Tuesday that the Department of Corrections is now responsible for determining what credit, if any, an inmate will get for time he spent in custody before pleading guilty. Because there are two separate criminal cases, he expects Davis to have to complete the 10-year sentence he received Tuesday and then begin eight years on probation that remains for the Cobb County sentence.