Defendant Gets Life in Prison for Role in Torture-Slaying
Calling the crime “unspeakably evil,” a Ventura County Superior Court judge Tuesday sentenced 22-year-old Billy Lyn Davis of Lawndale to life in prison without the possibility of parole for his role in a grisly 1996 torture-slaying that ended in the outskirts of northern Ventura County.
Davis, a pale, dark-haired man with a history of drug use, showed no reaction as Judge James P. Cloninger directed his harsh words at the defendant.
“Mr. Davis, before I impose sentence I have to say the crimes you’ve committed are among the worst I’ve seen in my career as a judge,” Cloninger said.
“Anyone who is capable of doing what you’ve done . . . should never walk free in society again,” the judge said. “The things you’ve done here are unspeakably evil. There is no other word for it.”
Davis was found guilty last month of first-degree murder, kidnapping and related charges for participating in the vicious killing of 20-year-old Anthony Guest of Redondo Beach.
According to court testimony, Davis and co-defendant Spencer Rawlin Brasure, 29, kidnapped Guest as a favor to a female friend who had briefly dated Guest and wanted him hurt as a result of their breakup.
Brasure and Davis, however, did more than just hurt Guest. Witnesses testified that for several hours the pair tied Guest to a makeshift electric chair, burned him, stapled wood to his ear and placed broken glass in his mouth, which they glued shut.
After extensive torture, they drove Guest to the Hungry Valley Recreation Area near Gorman and burned him alive using gasoline and a road flare.
Maintenance workers found Guest’s remains beneath a juniper bush on Sept. 13, 1996.
Brasure, a Hawthorne resident who had bragged to friends about the assault, was the first to stand trial. Last year a jury found him guilty of first-degree murder, conspiracy, kidnapping and related offenses, including witness intimidation.
Prosecutors sought the death penalty, and after a weeklong penalty proceeding jurors decided Brasure should be executed. He was sentenced to death in August 1998.
Davis, who allegedly confessed to his involvement in an interview with police, waived a jury trial. Instead, written evidence was submitted to Cloninger in a brief court trial.
The judge announced Oct. 12 that he found Davis guilty of murder and other charges. Defense attorneys plan to appeal the verdict, saying Cloninger erred by allowing Davis’ statement to police to be admitted as evidence. They contend that the interview was coerced.
Prosecutors decided not to pursue the death penalty against Davis, who was under the influence of drugs at the time of the crime and followed Brasure’s lead.
Cloninger acknowledged during Tuesday’s sentencing hearing that Brasure was the instigator. But the judge said Davis participated in the slaying and helped cover up a brutal murder.
“You certainly did nothing to stop it,” the judge told Davis.
After the hearing, Guest’s mother, Redondo Beach resident Lee Andersen, said she wished Davis had received the same sentence as Brasure--death.
Andersen said her son’s murder has destroyed her family and left a void in their lives that can never be filled. Fighting tears, she said she suffers frequent flashbacks on the death of her son, whom authorities say was homeless at the time of his murder.
“I see his face,” she said. “I will never get over what he suffered.”