SCOTT HECKEL / AP Enlarge
CANTON - Former police officer Bobby Cutts, Jr., was sentenced yesterday to up to life in prison with a chance of parole after 57 years for killing his pregnant lover and their nearly full-term unborn daughter.
The jurors quickly decided against a death sentence because Cutts had no history of violence, foreman Charles Gillespie said. They didn't buy the prosecution's argument that Cutts went to Jessie Davis' house on a summer morning planning to kill her over mounting child support.
"The jury believed it could have been accidental, it could have been on purpose, but he didn't go there with the intent to do that," Mr. Gillespie said.
Stark County Common Pleas Judge Charles Brown, Jr., reject-ed a defense request to combine Cutts' sentences, which would have allowed earlier parole eligibility.
Cutts, 30, sobbed on the witness stand when he testified during his trial that Ms. Davis, 26, died from an elbow to the throat in June in an accident during a quarrel at her northeast Ohio home.
He said he dumped her body in a park in a panic.
He returned to the witness stand after his conviction to ask jurors to spare his life during the sentencing phase of his trial.
Cutts hurt his case during the trial when he took the witness stand because most jurors didn't find him believable, Mr. Gillespie said.
Most damaging was how Cutts' sobs abruptly stopped when the prosecution began its cross-examination.
"It shocked me," Mr. Gillespie said. "Suddenly Mr. Cutts was no longer crying and it was a complete switch in demeanor."
Mr. Gillespie said another damaging comment was Cutts' testimony that he found Ms. Davis lying on the floor in her bedroom and asked her if she was having the baby.
It showed Cutts' awareness the baby was near full term. Mr. Gillespie said Cutts' doing nothing to try to save the fetus after Ms. Davis died weighed heavily in the verdict of aggravated murder in the baby's death.
"Maybe he lied, but his own lies worked against him because otherwise we would have had to guess about what happened," said Mr. Gillespie, 67, who was serving on his third jury, the second time as foreman.
Jurors found Cutts guilty of the lesser charge of murder in Ms. Davis' death in part because the medical examiner couldn't determine how she died, Mr. Gillespie said.
For more than a week after Ms. Davis' death, Cutts denied knowledge of her whereabouts as thousands searched in the area amid national media coverage.
He finally led authorities to the body, wrapped in a comforter.
Prosecutors argued that Cutts intentionally killed Ms. Davis and the fetus at her Lake Township home to avoid making child support payments for the child.
The couple's son, Blake, then 2 1/2, was found home alone and gave investigators their first clues to his mother's disappearance when he said, "Mommy's crying. Mommy broke the table. Mommy's in the rug," and later, "Daddy's mad."
During statements before sentencing, the victim's mother, Patty Porter, sobbed as she told the judge she was risking her family's disapproval but wanted Cutts to be sentenced in a way that would allow him to be free at some point to share life with his son, Blake, now 3.
"I hope and pray I can raise him to forgive you," she said.
"He knows what you did. You would not believe the stories he's told us."